One of the first things to do as a writer, so we’re told, possibly before you write a single word of your book, is to create your Author Brand. I fell at the first hurdle here. Can an unadventurous, ordinary person be believed as an author of exciting, magical tales? Some authors have used their powers of invention to create a far more interesting persona for themselves than their real lives merit. A spy? An intrepid explorer? A round the world yachtsperson? All great stuff. Although, of course, you may be called to account: your first book signing will be a grave disappointment to the buying public if they turn up expecting a cross between Scott of the Antarctic and Captain Bligh, only to find an introverted individual apologetically mumbling that the publisher thought it would be ‘better branding’. Unless you can live up to this kind of fabrication you are certainly wandering into dangerous waters. I shan’t be doing that, then.
So what’s my brand? What’s brand Kathy? I’d love to say I’ve run up the ratlines of a tall ship, or fought off a polar bear on an ice floe. Or been the spy who came in from the cold. But I haven’t. The nearest I’ve come to true adventure was a rather rough voyage in a small boat to the Channel Island of Herm. Oh, and getting stuck in a flood near Dorking. But I wasn’t in any danger, honestly. I need to establish my brand and all I can think of is cabbages.
Allow me to explain. Brand Kathy is a little lacking, I reckon: I live by the sea, I like plants, I enjoy singing, I dabble in photography and I read a lot. Not good enough, I suspect. What can I add to beef it up a bit? I know: I once owned a small toucan, how about that? Is it getting exciting yet? No? I won a ladies’ rowing race as a teenager – but the other participants didn’t actually know how to row. Hardly a sporting exploit, then. But – wait for it – I have been to Lundy Island and seen the famous endemic Lundy Cabbage – and
that was a pretty magical moment, at least to me. Rhynchosinapis wrightii. A rare plant – nothing much to look at – but I loved making its acquaintance. Surely that counts for something? No? Are you serious? Oh, dear.
The truth is I’ve had a pretty quiet life. I haven’t travelled extensively. I haven’t had any exciting jobs. I’ve never met anyone famous. I just love to tell adventurous, magical stories, that’s all. They don’t reflect my life, not really. I make it all up.
So in the end, perhaps it’s about magic, not about me. It’s not about exciting travel, or famous friends, or glamorous jobs. It’s not even about cabbages. Brand Kathy, such as it is, is about the magic I see in nature, in the seaside life, in making music with my choir friends, and in the creation of stories – and all those things find their way into my writing, seasoned with a big dash of imaginary adventure. I guess that will just have to do.
For full details of all my (magical) books, see my Amazon page: tinyurl.com/mygx77l