Welcome back for another fun interview. Today, we have Kathryn Hodgson with us. She’s coming in from down under, though she claims she’s from Warwickshire, England. (I’ll take her word, even though since I’ve met her she’s had some stunning reports from different places around Australia and New Zealand.)
Kathryn, why don’t you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you grew up?
- I grew up in England and always had a love of writing, nature and exploring the world. I have a Master’s in Environmental Biology and my fiancé and I run a marine conservation cause called Friends for Sharks. We are currently touring the world for 10 months to provide educational shark conservation events for adults and children across the globe whilst also raising money for two charities, The Shark Trust and Project AWARE.
Sounds like you are a busy lady! Was finding the balance between writing and your other activities your greatest challenge, or did you have something else that challenged you more?
- I find it challenging to fight the inner-voice that I am not a good enough writer to be doing this. I think that is a challenge for many authors, so I just keep on trying to soothe and ignore it as best I can.
- [But] the hardest part was recalling the losses I went through. I wanted my writing to be heartfelt and so I literally lived the entire fiasco a second time as I wrote it all out. That was incredibly painful for me and there were many times I almost quit entirely. I am so glad I didn’t though, as the messages of thanks I have received from readers have been wonderful.
- I learned that there is nothing in life that absorbs me as much as writing does and that writing is something I can do and will do for the rest of my life.
What started you on your writing journey?
- I suspect it originated as a young child when my dad read to me every night. He used to make up these fantastic stories for me at my bedside and they helped me sleep. That escapism and hunger for stories has never left me and my dad and I have often swapped book recommendations as adults.
- I began writing when I moved from England to South Africa during the spring of 2013. I was moving overseas alone to pursue a career working with Great White sharks and I was looking for a way to become more creative and to inspire others to create the life they want and pursue their own dreams. I had been through an incredibly difficult time prior to that move, including being left at the almost-altar not once but twice! I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and to uplift others with a story of survival and hope. I just knew I had to write No Damage and share it with the world.
- When I was going through those difficult years of my life I was desperate to find a book which would provide me with reassurance that I was not the only person feeling the way I did and experiencing the problems that surrounded me. I wanted to find a book that would comfort and reassure me, make me laugh out loud at those dark moments and inspire me to keep moving forwards. That book didn’t exist and so I felt inspired to create it myself. That was the beginning of creating No Damage.
I’m guessing from your answers that you’ve incorporated many of your own experiences into your work, and kept it as realistic as possible.
- Yes, it is the story of part of my life.
- All of it is realistic. I went to great lengths to ensure I didn’t embellish my story at all and have written about my circumstances with a complete lack of judgment for others’ actions – which was difficult to do when looking at abuse and other painful moments. It was a great lesson in letting go and developing compassion.
Are you at a point where you can share any of your latest news, or hints about your latest book yet?
- My current writing projects are a mixture of developing my scuba/travel article writing and also two book projects. I am writing my first novel at present, which is very exciting for me, and I am also writing a travel book about our 10 months on tour. I am lucky that my fiancé is a talented photographer and so will provide some stunning images for that project.
- I also write scuba diving/travel articles for the Friends for Sharks website and for The Scuba News. We are living in a tiny yet cosy camper van at the bottom of New Zealand at present and I am writing whenever I can find mains power and a table!http://www.friendsforsharks.com/
- In terms of novel writing it would be difficult to share much of my latest work as I have only written the first chapter. It is a little too early to share it just yet.
[For the released book]Book blurb:
No Damage is an inspiring and uplifting look at one woman’s journey to survive two runaway grooms whilst coping with cancer, the loss of her career and more.
Kathryn’s optimistic tale of hope, adventure travel and an unexpected stint in a South African prison explores how, as a single 30-something woman with just one suitcase and a head full of emotional baggage, she conquered her fears to pursue her passions.
This memoir is both a hilarious true story of the power of positive thinking and a self help guide to overcoming loss, following you heart and creating the life you want.
With everything going on in your life, do you have a moment in time when you turned to your work, and knew you had become a writer?
- When I finally finished the last chapter of No Damage and began the process of editing and proof reading. That was the moment I sat back and realized I had become a writer. I still have moments though when The Fear gets the better of me and I think ‘I can’t do this, I’m not really a writer.’ I try to ignore that voice as best I can!
What about your title and cover? Do these tie into your journey as well, or do they have their own story to tell?
- I was standing in my bedroom one day as I considered writing my memoir and I was mentally searching for a title. As I reached for an old packet of hair bands on my dresser, the cardboard holder of those bands fluttered onto the floor. I turned it over and there was the name ‘No Damage’. From that moment onwards I knew it was the title of my book and it was very apt for that story.
- My fiancé and I designed the cover together.
Is there a message in No Damage that you’ve left for your readers to find?
- Absolutely! Firstly I should point out it is not a novel, it is a memoir and so has a different message. The main thing I want readers to grasp is that life doesn’t go exactly to plan BUT we can all survive with our sanity and hearts intact if we choose to adopt a positive attitude and simply refuse to give up. Anything and everything is possible if you believe in it enough and life is far too precious to waste it doing anything other than smiling.
Growing up, what books influenced your life the most?
- Now that’s a tricky question. It is difficult for me to list all of the books that have inspired me (there are so many!) but I can say that Elizabeth Gilbert, Marianne Cantwell and Eckhart Tolle are authors that inspired me greatly during my move to South Africa. For comfort I always return to Goodnight Mister Tom by M Magorian and I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult’s novels for easy reading. I also can’t get enough of discovering new indie authors at the moment – there is such talent out there.
Are any of these your favorites?
- It would have to be Elizabeth Gilbert. I adore her writing style and her general approach to life. She is truly an inspiration.
- What really strikes me about her work is the emotional honesty she brings to her writing and also the fantastic characters she creates. Her writing is from the heart and always uplifts me.
Are you reading any of her work now, or does someone else hold the place of honor in your reading stack?
- I have just started to read Random Lucidity by Dave Adair. I am only one chapter in and already I am smitten with his writing style and the two characters I have met.
How about new authors? Any interesting ones you’ve discovered?
- At the moment I am keen to read more of Natalie Gosney and Connie Stephany’s books. They are both great writers with a real talent for drawing readers in from the start. I definitely recommend them both.
Has your reading influenced the way you write, or do you let the story influence your writing style?
- I think my writing style is very open-hearted and honest yet also witty and uplifting. I am a huge believer in the power of words and a genuine voice when conveying emotions as well as stories and I do my best to bring that into my writing style.
With the wide ranging discussions we’ve had, I’m going to go back to an earlier point. You mentioned that bringing up the losses you’d experienced was difficult for you while you were writing No Damage. Did you have anyone outside your family supporting you along the way?
- That would have to be my physiotherapist in South Africa, Brett. He was an incredible support to me when I herniated a disc in my back last year and faced the prospect of spinal surgery. He came to the practice out of hours to help me almost daily and he was the first person to read No Damage outside of my family. He has always been a huge supporter of my writing and literally helped get me back on my feet. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help and friendship.
That definitely was above and beyond. Had you decided to make writing your career by that point, or are you still debating about it?
- [Writing is] very much [my career]. I don’t yet know how to make it pay enough to be a full-time career but I certainly see writing as part of my career and intend to pursue it for years to come.
If you were to start over then, knowing what you do now, would you change anything you’ve done so far?
- I could give the obvious answer of saying yes I wish ALL of those circumstances hadn’t happened to me but that would be untrue. I wouldn’t change a moment of it, as I have learned and grown a great deal as a person through those times.
And the question everyone loves asking, and most authors enjoy answering: What advice would you give to other new authors who are just starting out?
- Never give up. We all have fears and doubts and the key is to just keep moving forwards regardless. Show up at your desk and just write whatever comes to mind. Yes there will be days when the page is blank and you question your abilities but they will pass. Be sure to take a break and do something else until your creativity returns. Also don’t judge the quality of your writing – leave that to critics and readers. Your part is to just enjoy the process and create the books you long to read.
Kathryn, thank you so much for stopping by today. Before we close out your visit, is there any last words you’d like to leave for our readers?
- I would like to say thank you for sharing your, often painful, stories with me and for the incredible 5* reviews No Damage has received. It leaves me speechless to think I have inspired you and made you laugh out loud with my words. I am truly thankful for your kindness and support and I hope your futures are full of possibility and hope.
There you have it folks. Kathryn Hodgson – the writer who started in England, and has begun to travel the world. If you enjoyed her interview, and wish to connect, you can find her over on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), or on her Website where you can find her memoir No Damage in paperback for less than Amazon has it listed; she also keeps her blog there as well.
If you enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you, please stop by my Offered Services page and send me a submission. I will get back with you soonest to discuss details.
Until next time… happy writing!