Kate has stopped by for a Q&A on Skylarking, to tell about her new novel and the inspiration behind it.
Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape. As the daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.
When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. An innocent moment in McPhail's hut then occurs that threatens to tear their peaceful community apart.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a spellbinding tale of friendship and desire, memory and truth, which questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.
Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
A remote lighthouse. Best friends growing up. A fisherman. A gun…
What inspired you to write Skylarking?
While on a camping trip with my family and best friends, I stumbled upon an old grave. It belonged to a young woman who had lived at a nearby lighthouse in the 1880s and I was immediately captivated by the information that hinted at a bigger story, including her friendship with the daughter of the Head Lighthouse Keeper, and a terrible event that occurred at a fisherman’s hut nearby. I began to dig into the history of the lighthouse and eventually became obsessed with imagining the lives of these two best friends and what became of them.
Where do you do most of your writing?
I occupied a corner of the lounge room by surrounding it with bookshelves so I have a little nook with a sunny window and a desk amid towering piles of books. But, as I have two young children, I also write wherever I can – on the train, in the car outside dancing class, dictating notes on my phone while waiting at traffic lights!
What is your favourite book?
This question is like asking which of my children is my favourite! As a child, Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, as a student Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, as a writer The Writer’s Room: Conversations About Writing edited by Charlotte Wood.
Which part of Skylarking did you enjoy writing the most?
In the beginning I had no idea I was writing a novel, let alone that it would be published – so that was incredibly liberating. I avoided writing the climax of the novel for many, many months, and when I finally did, I sobbed all the way through. That part wasn’t enjoyable but it was certainly an experience I’ll never forget.
Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Again, so many! But Anne of Green Gables and Grace Marks from Margaret Attwood’s Alias Grace influenced me both in my life and writing.
Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Keep reading widely and voraciously! And sit down and DO the writing. Your novel can sound wonderful in your mind but you’ve got to take the risk to actually put it down on paper. Be brave!
Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I’m in the middle of writing my second novel. It’s a more contemporary story and as part of the research I’m hitching a ride on a yacht from Darwin to Indonesia. I’m enjoying pushing myself to take new risks in this work!
You can find out more about Kate Mildenhall by visiting her website, Facebook, or by following her on Twitter.