Kathryn Williams’ first novel The Ormering Tide – a brooding and astonishing debut from the Mercury Music Prize nominated singer-songwriter – is published on March 22, 2021 by Wrecking Ball Press. Ahead of publication, we caught up with Kathryn to discuss her move into writing fiction and to find out more about her novel.
You’re making the transition from musician and songwriter to author. How does that feel?
Well, I’m still a songwriter … but yes, it’s been a big learning curve and a long time not telling anyone while I worked that out in my own head. The imposter syndrome I had for years in my musical career has returned for a second series!
How does the creative process of writing fiction differ from and compare to songwriting?
Size is the biggest thing. I can write a song in a day , three or four songs even. With a book there has to be a commitment and a work ethic that has to last longer than the initial spark. Even then when you’ve got things creatively going there are edits, more edits and re-writes.
Making music is clearly a very collaborative process, compared to the solitary existence of a writer of fiction – how do you feel about the latter?
I started writing songs in secret – just the same as writing this novel. But yes the routine of the workload does make it solitary in the real world. When I finished the book, however, I really missed the characters.
Can you tell us more about your writing process?
I did a lot of the early stages when I was travelling on tour, on trains, in hotel rooms, backstage. I would write notes and email them to myself. As it grew I then started taking my kids to school, getting into bed and then realising I’d written all day and it was time for school pick up. A writer friend recommended Scrivener to use to write, as I could move scenes around in there and it has an archive and places for research.
How and when did the idea for The Ormering Tide come to you?
The first idea for the story started when I visited a bay where my husband’s grandparents lived and he mentioned a woman that used to live on the cliff. I started to get down my idea of how she got there and then the characters just started speaking and doing things.
Why this story, now?
I can’t really answer that because I didn’t have a plan or preconception of what I was writing being in the world we are currently living in now. But now we are here in this strange predicament, I think it’s like a dream, and it brings focus to the small beauty and the unseen we take for granted around us.
What experience do you want readers of The Ormering Tide to have?
I want them to feel they they are standing in front of the sea, taking deep breaths and imagining the sky is inside them.
Who do you think the audience for your fiction is?
I think it has a poetic way of seeing the world through Rozel’s childlike eyes. It’s a small book that you can dive into and stay enveloped in … so I would say even busy people can be whisked away by it.
You’re undoubtedly a strong female role model in the arts – how important is this to you?
It means more to me now than it used to. Mainly because I now have the opportunity to support and promote other women in arts.
Do you have any thoughts about your experience of independent publishers?
I know that they are willing to take a chance on something they love. They have to be inventive and creative in finding ways to reach people and survive. Having had my own music label, as well as having been signed to a major label, and now with an independent record label, I’ve seen the different corporate worlds in music which I think could probably translate to book publishing. I’m overjoyed to have my book’s first home with an independent publisher with such a great roster.
What more can we expect from Kathryn Williams, the novelist?
I’m working on my second novel but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. More generally, what else are you working on and what does the future hold for you as an artist? I’m finishing a project I’ve been writing with Carol Ann Duffy, which is an album of Christmas songs. It’s been a joy to make. I have a solo album in the works produced by Ed Harcourt. I’m writing a theatre and television piece with Kit Green and Mark Davies based on a gay bar in Liverpool in the 60s called The Magic Clock, which is in development with the Liverpool Everyman. I have also been co-writing songs for artists in Sweden and Norway. I do a live Instagram request show each Thursday which has been keeping me sane in lockdown and keeps me connected to fans. But also I’m home educating my kids and keeping on top of the wash loads!
Pre-order now directly from Wrecking Ball Press at http://wreckingballpress.com/product/the-ormering-tide/