West Suffolk-based author Kate Sawyer has her second book out next month – and it promises to be an ambitious new novel about family life. Here, the award-winning novelist explains how life has been since her first book was published two years ago
You were last featured just before THE STRANDING came out – how has life been for you since?
So, that was two years ago…and it’s been pretty busy! THE STRANDING came out in hardback in the summer of 2021 and things were just starting to open up, so there was a little flurry of events and generally some lovely feedback from the first readers. Then, there was the most amazing surprise in November when I won the East Anglian Book Awards prize for fiction – which was an amazing honour. But then, things got even crazier…just a couple of weeks later I discovered I had been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, alongside Caleb Azumah Nelson, AK Blakemore and Emily Itami. My book was discussed on BBC Radio 4 Front Row! I couldn’t believe it! What else? Oh, shortly after that the screen rights were purchased by Afua Hirsch’s production company Born In Me in partnership with Fremantle. So, I started work on the adaption for that as Afua and I are co-writing. I finished my second novel THIS FAMILY and did all the editing on that. I started my podcast NOVEL EXPERIENCE, a weekly podcast where I chat to authors about writing, books and the experiences that led them to being published. Then THE STRANDING came out in paperback and was on the radio again, this time as an adaptation for the BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. My daughter is now three – so I’ve been quite busy with motherhood too!
THIS FAMILY is out in May – when can you tell us about this one? It’s about love and loss?
THIS FAMILY is a multi-generational family saga told over the course of one hot summer’s day in a Suffolk garden and punctuated by 40 years of memories from nine different family members. It’s about a family coming together, despite being fragmented. It’s about the moments that seem inconsequential that go on to change the course of our lives. It’s about how sometimes the relationships with the people we love the most can be the hardest.
Did you feel any pressure, writing this one, after the prize-winning success of THE STRANDING?
Erm, yep! Who wouldn’t? But I’ve put my heart into it. I am proud of it, and I love it. Of course, I hope other people love it too, but all I can do is be sure that it’s something I am proud to put out into the world. And I am!
Any future projects you can share?
As I said I’m adapting THE STRANDING for screen, so hopefully there’ll be more to talk about on that front soon. I am working on a third novel. And I am hoping to continue taking the podcast to new audiences too. Oh, and I’m getting involved with the Bury St Edmunds Literature Festival which is returning to Bury St Edmunds with a bang this year on 20-22nd October. It’s a lovely little festival and we are excited that there’ll be more authors joining us this year after a quiet couple of years because of the pandemic. So, I am excited for that and keen to enjoy all of the events that I’m doing for THIS FAMILY around East Anglia and further afield because I didn’t get to do a proper book tour last time round!
THIS FAMILY, by Kate Sawyer, is published on May 11, 2023. To pre-order, visit Hachette UK. The THIS FAMILY book tour includes: Browsers Bookshop, Woodbridge on Thursday 11th May, 7.30pm; and Bury St. Edmunds Waterstones on Friday 12th May, 6.30pm. For the podcast, visit Novel Experience on Apple Podcasts.
Featured image – supplied by Kate Sawyer