I always enjoy reading the Proust Questionnaire in my local newspaper, as it gives a delightful insight into all different types of people, without actually telling you anything useful. So, I’m hoping to mimic this fine art of quizzery, but with authors in mind, in this newfangled thing I like to call 20 questions! It’s a feature where I ask authors… well, 20 questions (and hope they answer them).
Obviously, this is a highly scientific questionnaire (awaiting international accreditation) created by a writer for writers, that will probably not determine anything much at all, but will give us all a jolly good laugh at each other’s expense. *No authors were harmed* Much.
So let’s get behind the books and meet our first
victim author, ladies and gentlemen may I present author extraordinaire – Cat Hogan.
1. Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Where the hell do you find the motivation to stick at it?
2. Which would you prefer: monetary success or literary acclaim?
If I can swap a box of Pulitzer prize winning books for a house in the country I’ll go for literary acclaim. Otherwise, pass me the money please. Somewhere in between would be the perfect balance.
3. How do people typically respond when you tell them you’re a writer?
When I first told people in Wexford I was writing, no-one raised an eyebrow. Writers are common down this neck of the woods- Colm Toibin, John Banville, Eoin Colfer and Billy Roche are all from Wexford.
However, I do get the odd raised eyebrow, particularly when my partner is with me. He’s a musician, so the response is generally, “Oh, how creative, but what is your real job?” The other response is “Oh, I’d like to do that, I just don’t have time to write, or read for that matter.” It’s not a hobby, it’s WORK!! On occasion, I think people just think I’m mad 🙂
4. Social Media – Love or hate?
LOVE it. Social media is your friend if you know how to use it properly. It can become consuming- moderation, a thick skin and a sense of humour help.
5. What would you classify as a bad review?
A bad review for me is one written spitefully- where the reader/reviewer has a problem with the author and writes a bad review because of personal opinion or allegiances to other authors . It’s a rare occurrence but it happens.If I get a negative review and it’s an honest opinion or constructive in its criticism, I will take it on board. If it’s arsey for the sake of being arsey, I ignore and laugh about it to my friends.Luckily for me, the vast majority of reviewers I deal with are fantastic people. A lot of them don’t get paid for what they do but their hard work really helps an author get their book out there. It’s very seldom to find one who isn’t professional.
If a book is not to my taste- I won’t review it. If I love a book, I will. I don’t think its fair to be negative about a book that is not to my liking. It’s a subjective thing at the end of the day and everyone has an opinion- including the author of that book.I would say one of the worst books ever written is 50 Shades- but EL James is laughing the whole way to the bank right now and my opinion on her book sure as hell won’t make a difference!!
8. What book do you wish you’d written?
50 Shades of Grey. No- I’m joking.
I would love to have written ‘I Know This Much is True’ by Wally Lamb or ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris. The Bible might have been a good option too- I have my eye on the New York Times Best Seller list so any thing that has been there for a while.
I wish I was born Steven King. He’s my hero.
Well my favourite author is Steven King. I think he is a genius in every sense. My question to him would be-
‘Steven, when would you like to start our intensive one on one year long training course? You know the one we were planning where you are going to teach me everything you know about writing.’
Seeing the book in my hand for the first time was magical. It took a few days to register with me that it was a proper book. The whole process is surreal- especially the first time. It’s not something I take for granted.
I did tell my publisher that my friend was a journalist with the Guardian and she was really excited about doing a piece on me. That was true but it wasn’t the Guardian Guardian- it was a local paper of the same name. Technically I didn’t lie- it was more a case of misrepresentation of the facts.
12. If money were no object, where would be your ideal place to write?
If that’s not possible immediately, I’ll happily swan around any of the Condé Nast recommended Spa destinations in my robe and write in between treatments.
13. Do you think readers still value books in the same way?
Yes. Absolutely. Readers will always love the feel of a real book in their hands. I think buying books on Kindle appeals to the notion of instant gratification. If someone recommends a book to me- I will buy it on Kindle and if I like it, I will buy the paperback to add to my collection. No one want’s their childhood favourite books on Kindle- they are on a bookshelf at home. I can’t resist a pretty book cover. My house is filled with books. I can’t part with them.
14. What genre are your books and do you find genres restrictive?
My genre is hard to define as I don’t fit into any box neatly. They All Fall Down is a psychological thriller/ domestic noir/ grip lit. When I started writing, I thought I would be lighter and full of humour. That didn’t happen- the story turned dark very quickly.
I don’t think genres are restrictive per se. I won’t shoehorn a story to fit into a genre- I will write the story and see what happens after that. From a marketing perspective, maybe being strictly in one genre means you are missing out on a whole host of potential readers. It’s a hard one to call.
15. Do you have any unpublished books, buried at the bottom of the garden and doomed never to see the light of day?
Luckily for me the answer is no. I finished They All Fall Down in June, got picked up by an agent in August and had a 2 book deal by November. Come back and ask me that question this time next year and I might have a different answer for you!
16. What was your favourite childhood book?
17. Do you have any other hidden talents you’d like to brag about?
I am a sh*t hot cook. I love food and everything about it- LOVE to cook and bake. My background is in hospitality and I spent a few years training in kitchens. You are lucky if you get an invitation to one of my dinner parties. 🙂
I had two launches for They All Fall Down. In Dublin the book was launched by Rick O Shea and at home in Wexford it was launched by Eoin Colfer of Artemis Fowl fame.
They were both a huge success- I trended on Twitter, dominated social media for days and hit the Irish Times Best seller list the week after the launch.
A good launch is crucial. It’s good business.
20. What would you like your epitaph to be?
Here lies Cat. She was a great mother to her wonderful little boys, A good friend who always had the kettle on and she deserved her place at the table with the great writers and story tellers in Ireland.
Cat Hogan’s debut novel, They All Fall Down is available here and you can tweet her @kittycathogan or follow her on Facebook. When she’s not drinking her own body weight in tea or stalking lighthouses, Cat can be found writing in her native Wexford, where she lives with her family.