Writing life

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Kate Richards

headshot of Kate Richards
Kate Richards

Writers Victoria interviews Kate Richards about her life as a writer.

When did you first know that you were a writer?

Reading has always been a great joy and a great comfort, and I think writing for me evolved from thinking about what I was reading. As a child I gave my parents an illustrated short story for Christmas each year. (The illustrations were terrible). At school I read and wrote poetry mostly, because I loved how poets could say so much in so few words. It amazed me, and still does.

What’s your daily writing schedule like? Where do you do most of your writing? Do you ever handwrite or only use a computer?

Evenings are the best writing time for me – as the sun goes down and then into the night. I’m happy writing anywhere – in cafes and pubs, libraries, on the train, in bed. I always carry notebooks for writing away from home and cart the laptop around from room to room at home. What do you write about? Notes and ideas for the novel, bits of dialogue for the novel, “what if?” questions about characters in the novel and snippets of poetry that may or may not find their way into the novel.

What does creativity mean to you?

The joyous thing about creativity is that it probably means quite different things for different people. For me, it’s about making new connections between ideas, objects, events, and people, to give new kinds of meaning and new ways of understanding. There’s also an element of exhilaration in creativity, that “wow” moment, something beyond the ordinary, something beautiful (or devastating).

Have you set boundaries for how much of yourself you reveal in your writing?

Yes, absolutely. Everyone needs a private self as well as a public self, even when writing autobiography or memoir.

How has your life changed since your memoir was published last year?

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many different groups of people about living well with mental illness, in particular, with groups of health professionals about the experience of mental illness from the inside, and the importance of there being a real human connection between professionals and patients. What are you working on at the moment? A Penguin Special (extended essay) called ‘Is There No Place for Me?’ about how we care for our people with mental illness, and a novel set in the alpine wilderness of south-eastern Australia.

What are some of your favourite books?

‘A Girl is a Half-formed Thing’ by Eimear McBride, ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison, ‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson, ‘The Sound and the Fury’ by William Faulkner.

About Kate Richards

Kate Richards is an award-winning writer of narrative non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Her memoir, Madness, was published by Penguin Books in February 2013. Kate has a Medical Degree with Honours from Monash University, a Diploma of Writing and Editing from RMIT University and is an advocate for living well with disability and long-term illness.