KATE BLACKADDER The Family At Farrshore Ulverscroft Linford Romance Library

Kate B at Penrith

Kate B at Penrith

Kate Blackadder, Edinburgh based author of Family at Farrshore, is a well known writer of short stories and her name will be familiar to many readers of large circulation mags such as People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly. In 2011 Kate’s first serial for People’s Friend, The Family At Farrshore was published in seven weekly instalments. It has now been produced by large print label Ulverscroft in their Linford Romance Library and is available from April the first.

Kate and I are both members of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club.Together with a third member, Jane Riddell, we have our first novels coming out this Spring. Novels Now may refer to this as the Edinburgh Three, but only while editorial sense is switched off. An interview with Jane, author of Waters’ Edge will appear later this month.

I took the chance to ask Kate Blackadder a few questions about this exciting future for Family At Farrshore. I’m sharing her answers here.

You’re a well established short story writer, Kate, with People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly among others. How challenging was it to write so many more words about your characters?

It was certainly a learning curve. The serial came about because I won The People’s Friend First Instalment of a Serial competition at the Scottish Association of Writers Annual Conference. But that’s all I had written – the first instalment. So when The People’s Friend asked me to write a scene-by-scene synopsis before they gave me the go-ahead, it was like walking into a roomful of people I’d barely met. But in writing that synopsis (which took me weeks …) I got to know them all very well, especially the five characters who had viewpoints. Each of their stories had to be interwoven and I ended up with seven instalments rather than the six I thought I’d have.

I know you read widely. How does the magazine serial differ from a ‘normal’ novel?

In a People’s Friend serial each weekly instalment of around 5000 words is divided into ‘chapters’ with headings.

This is how it looks in the large-print edition too. And of course the end of every instalment has a cliff-hanger!

The writing process though, in my experience, was certainly different from ‘normal’ writing because I submitted each instalment to The People’s Friend and waited for their comments before proceeding with the next one. This meant that I couldn’t go back and change anything I’d written earlier – which might sound an impossible way to work but, in fact, it was great and I really enjoyed it.  The People’s Friend staff were very supportive and encouraging.

Are you working on anything at present?

I’m very good at starting things … so, yes – a pocket-novel-length story, a longer novel which will involve lots of research, and short stories.

How about a short extract to tempt readers along to their local library?

Kate's First book

Kate’s First book

This is how The Family at Farrshore begins:

“Cathryn’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. She could hardly see through the windscreen although the wipers were working overtime.

It had been fine in Lancaster when she left just after lunch, anxious to put the miles between herself and Daniel, but the weather had got steadily worse and the road more narrow. She’d hoped to get to Farrshore by six but the dashboard clock told her it was almost eight when all of a sudden a figure loomed up at the side of the road, an arm held out.

At home she wouldn’t dream of stopping for a stranger, and the May evening was still light, but she couldn’t leave someone standing in all this rain. It might be hours before another car passed.

As she came nearer she could see that it was a man, tall and fair-haired. He bent down and wiped the window with his hand and smiled. Just for a moment she was reminded of Daniel and her heart jumped.

She pressed the button to open the window a fraction and leaned over to hear him.”


Actually, I know what happens next, but for those of you who don’t, I highly recommend The Family At Farrshore and local libraries.

Thanks for dropping in, Kate, Novels Now wishes you every success with your first book and all those projects.

Kate is Membership secretary of Edinburgh Writers’ club. edinburghwritersclub/




Susie Medwell tagged me in her post, The Next Big Thing. The Next Big Thing invites writers to answer ten questions about their next project. Thanks, Susie. Susie’s post is here:http://susiemedwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop-text-me.html

I am tagging Pamela Kelt, Mary Smith and Audrey Reimann.

Here are my takes on the questions posed.

Qu One: What is the title of your next novel? MARIAH’S MARRIAGE. It’s also my first novel.    Mariahs Marriage

Qu Two: Where did you get the idea for the story? There’s a sort of mist of ideas in my head and occasionally things distil out. I suspect the idea for Mariah came from a visit to a large country house in Scotland called Fasque. They had an integral schoolroom on display where the estate children were taught. Then the questions come. Who taught them? And that’s where Mariah gets her cue.

Qu Three: What genre is your book? It’s historical romance with a lot of dialogue and a lot of humour.

Qu Four: Who would play your hero and heroine in a film of the book? Oh, that’s hard, but can I have Ashley Jensen and Richard Armstrong please?

Qu Five: Give a one sentence synopsis of the story. When Mariah is knocked over by a pig her world of service to education collides with the privileged world of aristocrat, Tobias, and nothing is the same thereafter.

Qu Six: Are you self-published or represented by an agent? Neither. I sent Mariah out with her visiting cards and she was invited into the MuseItUp drawing room. She’s been made very welcome there by editors Judy B Roth and Greta Gunselman who were both incredibly patient and helpful with this newbie.

Qu Seven: How long did it take you to write the first draft? That’s really hard to answer because there are so many things happening at once and when you’re still seeking publication, you’re spread very thinly. I wrote the first chapter for New Voices although it has changed so much even I struggle to recognise it. I finished the book for the New Writers’ Scheme of the RNA. There was a lot of lie time. Maybe 12-14 months.

Qu Eight: What other books would you compare this story to in your genre? I think it comes out of the Jane Austen, Susan Ferrier, Georgette Heyer, Louise Allen tradition. Lots of story, humour and dialogue.

Qu Nine: Who or what inspired you to write this book? All those young women who struggled as assistant teachers in the early days of education for the masses. It must have been so hard to secure recognition for themselves and to educate children who were hungry and whose parents wanted them to be out earning.

Qu Ten: What else would pique readers interest about your story? Well, he does the chasing.

Mariah’s Marriage is e-published by MuseItUp of Canada on 3rd May. There’s a Notify me button here:https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore1


Mariahs Marriage

Clicking open the file containing the cover for your very first novel, is an exciting moment and Mariah’s lovely portrait is a delight. The cover is by Muse artist, CK Volnek.

Mariah’s Marriage is available from Muse on 3rd May, but you can press that Notify Me button on the site, so you don’t miss out. Details of the book are here:


Where Do You Get Your Ideas? No 3 Other People’s Memories

Other people’s memories are a rich source of ideas. It’s easy to see why. You can only live one life. You may live it in several spheres and so have personal memories of being, for example: behind a launching ship; delivered of a first baby; responsible for burying a parent; in the queue to matriculate at university; treated for a stab wound; in a crashing a car…

On the other hand, it’s likely that if you’re familiar with cars and how they crash, you’re not too hot on how to survive on a Scottish moor after the pony collapses and dies beneath you. There’s probably a relative, though, who heard such a story of life in the Highlands during their grandparents’ lifetimes. Listening to the elderly and the very old is a rich seam to mine, but it does need checking.evacuees house This photograph was taken in temporary accommodation used by evacuees during WWII. They were bombed out of Clydebank. The memories will be different for each family member and for each member of the host family too. I remember visiting a tied cottage on Pumpherston farm where the household cooked on a stove just a little more modern than this one.

Raw information will have been edited in the person’s brain. It’s only natural that good acts will be attributed to their friends, their Church and their chosen political party. It’s likely that criticism will be reserved for those they disliked, the Church they didn’t attend and the politicians who were of a different persuasion. Even so, raw information resonates with the experience of escaping a riot, a flooded pit, an explosion. It tickles the fancy with little details about how much ribbon was stitched to the younger sister’s Easter bonnet or how no brother ever washed a dish.Manchester night out The shoes to the left were abandoned in Manchester city centre. Which will be the true memory? ‘The strap broke and I fell. Lucky I didn’t break my neck.’ Or ‘She was so drunk, she fell down the steps. Lucky we were there to catch her. Never again!’

Not only the technical world, but lifestyle has changed so much in my own lifetime that it is sometimes difficult to persuade people your memory is sound. When I was in Febfest’s playwriting workshop in the 1990s, it was impossible to persuade a student that local authority houses had been rented to the male in a marriage and not to both partners. When I was discussing gun ownership in the UK, it only slowly came back to me that as a child I had seen a villager with his shotgun over his arm, cracked, and a string of wood pigeons dangling from his other hand. Useful stuff. He was filling the pot in straitened times. I’d buried the memory because it is now very unusual for anyone to do that. There are a lot of oral history archives and projects. Schools do invite grannies and granddads to visit and discuss what they did in their youth.

Create Your Own Memory

 Many small museums have artisans who will assist you to operate, for example, a spinning-wheel. I have a small ball of wool full of knots and rough bits that I spun under supervision in the West Highlands. I loved the experience: the movement of the foot pedal is rhythmic and soothing. The rough bits and knots would have taken much more experience to smooth out. but – now I know how a person spun and what it felt like.

Cherish Your Own Granny

I never heard my granny talk about spinning, but she taught me to knit. She had been a seamstress and over time we owned several foot operated sewing machines although I never made any headway with dress-making. Till very near the end of her life, Granny would order a parcel of remnants. Her prime was a very different world: finding a shilling in an old jacket during the miners’ strike, keeping a pig at the end of the garden and ordering a bale of remnants from which you might make a rag rug – we had at least one – or even a blouse. Her memories are gold dust.

MUSEITUP’s Month of Pet Peeves: Barbara Ehrentreu

I checked into the MuseItUp blog this morning to find out who was posting and what their Pet Peeve was. It’s Barbara Ehrentreu and her plea is partly from the point of view of an editor. so if you want to please your ed, read this:



Publishers, MuseItUp of Canada – the lovely people who are publishing Mariah’s Marriage in May – have a blog and I’ve made my first ever guest post there today. So that’s where you’ll find my words of wisdom this week folks, although I might pop back to let you know how my first ever public reading went. It takes place at Polwarth Church’s Spring Fling tomorrow, Sat 9th March. 11.30 am.

Links for those so minded are :

http://museituppublishing.blogspot.co.uk/ and


Beyond The End: Jane Austen Forever

Edinburgh Writers’ Club is hearing a talk by Maureen Kelly of the Scottish Branch of the Jane Austen Society tomorrow night, Monday 4th March. I feel I can take a tiny bit of credit here as I met Maureen just when the Club were looking to find a speaker to talk about a classic writer. Maureen goes all over to talk about Jane. There are pictures of her on other blogs at a Conference in the US where she talked about whether Marianne would sing Scottish songs. We are privileged.

So why do we find some writers so fascinating that the end of their books, or their output, is not and never will be enough? I remember my own first encounter with this phenomenon. I deliberately did not read the final chapter of Anne of Greengables until I had to because the book was due back into the library. It’s not difficult to work that one out. Why wouldn’t a red-haired girl with freckles not entirely empathise with a heroine who was red-haired and freckled – oh, and downtrodden, but resilient etc, etc? Other examples are easy to find – how about James Bond?

Jane Austen’s works are different. I really can’t see myself living without toothpaste and horses scare me witless at close quarters, so it’s not exactly empathy. Her magic, however, is in the language. She is for me the first truly modern writer in terms of her language. She also concentrates on domestic and social comedy and interaction without troubling this reader over the politics, warfare and philosophy of her times. Maybe I just want to be entertained. I read a lot of British History at Uni, and European, so I haven’t got my head in the sand.  I know about the evils of life in Regency and Georgian Britain.

Beyond the end, many other writers and commentators have helped to lessen our withdrawal symptoms. There are sequels and prequels galore. The wonderful Mr…Diary books. PD James’s take in Death Comes to Pemberley. Emma Thomson…. and of course the scriptwriters bringing us many and varied interpretations.

So what will Maureen Kelly have to say about one of our most loved writers? Can hardly wait.