I had an opportunity to have a littke chat with amazing Katarina West. She is a novelist living in Italy and recently came out her new book – Absolute Truth, For Begginers. I haven’t read it yet but when my schedule is not so busy will get cosy in the sofa with my favorite cup of tea and her new book.I’ve reviewed her debut novel, Witchcraft Couture.
Let’s get cosy and see what we discussed about writers block, finding inspiration and favorite fashion trends. Oh, and did you know they have ghosts, too?
Katarina West is the author of Witchcraft Couture, her debut novel. She was born in Helsinki, Finland, into a bilingual family that in addition to humans consisted of dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, canaries, rabbits and – thanks to her biology teacher mother – stuffed owls and squirrels.
She spent time travelling in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and went on to study at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the European University Institute in Florence, where she completed a PhD in political science and published a book based on it, Agents of Altruism. During those student years she started work as a journalist, and continued writing for various Finnish magazines and newspapers for over ten years, writing on various topics from current events and humanitarian issues to celebrity interviews and short stories. She also briefly worked as a university lecturer on humanitarian issues in Northern Italy.
What inspired you to become an author?
Reading, reading and reading. My father gave my sister and me an old typewriter when I was about ten years old. That’s when I started to write my first novel!
In the beginning of this year I read your novel Witchcraft Couture (and preparing for interview I reread it). What inspired you to write it?
The Finnish mythology Kalevala and the legend around the occult machine Sampo have always interested me. Another reason why I wanted to write it was that like Oscar, the anti-hero of Witchcraft Couture, I have suffered from creative blocks. I kept destroying my writings, and re-writing, and destroying them again. Then one day I saw creative blocks in a larger context. I realized that I wanted to write about them.
How did you complete your research of the fashion industry?
I read a lot, especially about fashion history – for some years it was my favourite bedtime reading. Plus, I interviewed fashion designers. Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing in Florence was really helpful, and I remain grateful for that.
What is your favourite designer (and why) and what is your least favorite fashion trend?
Italy is full of absolutely wild and creative designers, and unfortunately only a few of them are famous. One of my favourites is Roberto Capucci, because he is an artist, in the true sense of the word. But his costumes (because that’s what they are, costumes) are something you admire in museums. You wouldn’t wear them in real life.
My least favourite period must be the 1980s. I hate that glitz, and the padded shoulders. I mean, what on earth was going on, back in those years?
Oscar in Witchcraft Couture had a creative block. What advice can you give to anyone who has creative block?
To take a break, to see a good film, or go to see an interesting art exhibition. To do something else, but only for a limited period of time. The important thing is to not to give up.
In December comes out your new book Absolute Truth, For Beginners. Can you tell us what is it about?
It’s a story about a twenty-something art history graduate Elisa, who falls in love with Judith Shapiro, a famous mathematician thirty-two years her senior. She becomes her mistress for sixty-eight days, and those days change her life. It’s a desperate love story, and a coming of age story.
Can you share with us where did you found inspiration for two very different stories?
It’s hard to tell where inspiration comes for a book. You hear something, or read something, or something just flashes in your head. Each time, it’s a unique process.
Could you tell us one interesting fact about you?
I might be a novelist of the Twitter and digital age, but up here, in the hills of Chianti, we live life that goes back centuries. Each morning I carry firewood and light a fire in stoves and fireplaces, and each evening an unperturbed silence settles around our farmhouse. Oh, and by the way, did I tell you that we have a ghost too?
Thank you for finding time to answer these questions and letting us to know you a little bit more. Can’t wait to read to your new book Absolute Truth, For Beginners.
Thank you, it was lovely chatting with you. And yes, please visit my Facebook fan page or my website, just to say hello! I’d love to hear from you!
Have read any book from Katarina West? What is you favorite book?
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