Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Back from holidays...

I'm back to the blog after sneaking away for a week to Poland for holidays. And back to the great news that The Lady Soldier is at last available through amazon.com.

I also came back to a letter from Hale asking me to draft the blurb for Perfidy & Perfection so I'll be racking my brains about that on the trains for the rest of this week I think. Then... as it's nearly September... I need to get back to some semi-serious writing. It's been a great summer off, and now I'm really itching to write again. I need to have a think though what's realistic so I can set acheivable deadlines.

New authorblog
Fellow RNA author June Gadsby has started a blog. Welcome to blogland June!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pictures vs words

Pictures can tell a story, as can words. To save on the words I've just posted a few pictures from the weekend's Jane Austen Fayre activities below. What you can't see which was also going on were the regimental activities (infantry, naval and dragoons), dueling displays, period music, singing, dancing and crafts.

I had a great time (as you can probably guess) swanning about in my new sprig day dress (contact me if you'd like me to put you in touch with its fabulous dressmaker), talking to people about Regency things, The Lady Soldier and my Regency-set novels out next year.

I provide some entertainment by reading excerpts from The Lady Soldier
(c) K Allan

Stephen Bowden (of Wenlock blog and University Challenge fame) visits the Jane Austen Fayre
(c) K Allan

Regency lady (aka me) at the Jane Austen Fayre
(c) K Allan

Regency Punch and Judy
(c) K Allan

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jane Austen Fayre

At the Jane Austen Fayre all this weekend, reading excerpts from The Lady Soldier in costume. Scary stuff but looking forward to seeing what 'Mr Punch vs Napoleon' is all about!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Where ideas come from

The pleasure of writing fiction is that you are always spotting some new approach, an alternative way of telling a story and manipulating characters; the novel is such a wonderfully flexible form. Penelope Lively

This morning, on the train, several disperate thoughts came together, and from them an idea for a scene in the wip was formed. Often writers are asked, 'where do your ideas come from?' and I always thought I couldn't answer. (Or that the answer was 'my imagination.') I see now that this is only half the answer. The genesis of ideas come from things around you. Not necessarily things that happen to you personally, but from things you witness, or read about.

This is how:

Portraits. I've always been a fan of portraits but on Friday evening I went to the National Portrait Gallery in London. 'You notice things in portraits,' my friend said to me, ' that I've never noticed before.'

Details. And this got me thinking how these details can show just as much of the artist perhaps, or the zeitgeist, as the sitter.

In the wip there is now a portrait, and in this portrait is a significant detail.

Colour. There was a discussion last week on an email list I'm on about how some people visualise words in their heads in colour. It doesn't happen to me (actually I can't even visiualise words in my head - I have to write then down) but I started to think about the significance of colour.

A portrait with a detail that gives a clue. And the significance of the clue is in the colour.

Appearance and identity. It's an old question but one which came back at me as I tried on my costume for next weekend's Jane Austen Fayre where I'm reading extracts from The Lady Soldier. How far can the dress disguise the person. How far can I really become a 'Regency lady' by wearing a Regency lady's day dress?

A portrait with a detail that gives a clue, colour that confirms the clue, and dress that shows the sitter's alternative identity.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone. The radio interview on John Pilgrim’s show on Monday went quite well but if you’d seen me ten minutes before I shut myself in the small room ready to be telephoned up for it, you would have thought I was a nervous groom on his wedding day. I was pacing up and down, shaking, feeling slightly sick and faint, even – wringing my hands. (I never wring my hands).

Part of it was simply not knowing what to expect. Now I do, I know next time will be easier.

It’s the same with writing. We can write what we know we can write – what’s easy because we’ve done it before. But to move on, perhaps we have to do what it takes to try and write what we don’t yet know we can write.


Join in The Lady Soldier book group online

Sunday, August 07, 2005

(c) K Allan

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Online bookgroup, radio and money

One of the really exciting things about being an author is the fact that people actually read the story you've made up. With luck, they enjoy it, although of course not every story is every reader's cup of tea. When the opportunity arose to have an online bookgroup discuss The Lady Soldier I jumped at the chance. I want to know - what do readers like about it? dislike? Does it work in the way I hoped, or did we miss the mark? I'm hoping that I'll be able to get a lot out of this reader feedback to help with future writing.

The discussions are taking place at the UK's largest internet book forum, Book Group Online - the brainchild and project of TV producer Bill Matthews (who co-devised Nevermind The Buzzcocks and They Think It's All Over). It's a very friendly place and all are welcome to join in the discussions about The Lady Soldier (or any of the other myriad of book discussions going on frankly). I hope a few people will turn up and share their opinions about The Lady Soldier or I might get kind of lonely. :)

I'm going to be interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio on Monday around 4.15pm on John Pilgrim's show. This came about after local writing group Watford Writers kindly sent him the details of the writing workshop I'm giving to them on 15th August, and a bit about me and The Lady Soldier.

My advance cheque for Perfidy and Perfection arrived. It still seems strange to get paid money for doing what you love.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

London - 3

I was quite glad I'd had a couple of glasses of wine in the pub last night. I'd needed a large glass of white to help me get through the trauma of reading out the rough draft of the passionate opening to the new wip.

'So what do you think?' I asked the guys in our informal writing group.
'Think? Er... we were too busy enjoying the bodices being ripped.'

The wine also helped me sleep as I wasn't looking forward to getting up this morning to do the commute into London on the Thursday two weeks after the two weeks after 7/7.

There was a police van parked outside St Albans station and I counted at least eight officers inside the station and on the platforms. My train seemed empty. It wasn't empty, but it's usually sardines-in-a-tin and I managed to get a seat. Lots of people avoiding coming in today then. As we drew into London the sounds of 'copters filtered through. And sirens.

No one on the train was smiling. The usual bored-commuter look was absent. On faces instead a vague unease or apprehension. When a young man with a bag swayed through the doors from another carriage into ours everyone looked up. He had a too-many-beers-last-night look, unsteady, unfocused. The fear wasn't rational but it was there. I was glad to see him leave the train at the next stop.

I reached the office as my colleague was busy closing all the windows and doors. The sounds of 'copters and sirens were so loud but we exchanged glances and passing comment and we knew that some of it was psychological. Shut the noise out. It reminds us.

We've opened the windows again now. There is still at least one 'copter overhead but it seems more distant and the sirens are more intermittent.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A new blog created a second

Blogosphere has doubled in size in the last five months, and there's a new blog being created every second according to new research out yesterday. However, the question remains, how many blogs are ever actually going to be worth reading? Surely only a fraction. Will the big blogs get bigger, and more mainstream? Will...

Here's two great blogs outside the worlds of reading and writing which I always enjoy because they make me smile:

The Policeman's Blog
Norfolk Village Life Exposed

Can anyone recommend any more?