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A French Affair

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:05 02 June 2015

Best selling author Kate Mosse

Best selling author Kate Mosse

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As she celebrates the 10th anniversary of her best-seller Labyrinth, Kate Mosse can’t wait to meet readers at a special event in Titchwell, writes Rachel Buller.

There is an infectious joie de vivre about how Kate Mosse immerses herself in the writing process. As an author she is uncompromising in her research. Whether that is entrenching herself in a new town or city, revisiting every minutiae of its history, or - in the case of her last book, The Taxidermist’s Daughter - mastering skinning birds and the art of taxidermy.

It is 10 years since her breakthrough book Labyrinth - 
a historical blockbuster - was published. It has already sold millions of copies worldwide and is about to be re-released to mark the anniversary. Two sequels followed – Sepulchre and Citadel - and the books became known as The Languedoc Trilogy.

“Every time you deliver a novel to the agent you don’t know if they will read it and think this is the best novel ever or whether they all sitting in the boardroom looking at a telephone arguing over who is going to ring and tell you it is the worst,” she says. “You have no idea if it is going to capture a mood. A lot of the time it is entirely down to luck and timing.”

The Labyrinth books are set in and around her beloved Carcassonne, in southern France, where she and husband Greg have had a home for more than 20 years.

“Greg had a very strong connection with France and when we were struggling teachers and writers, we saved every penny in order to buy a small house in France. Carcassonne was a chance thing, we had never been but a friend of my mother-in-law told us about this house. The second I arrived in Carcassonne I thought ‘I get this place’. The local people have been so generous and treat me as one of their own. They use Labyrinth as part of their city tours, which makes me smile.”

This month she will be guest at Briarfields Hotel in Titchwell, near Hunstanton, as part of its series of Bookfest events to talk about Labyrinth.

“I love to know what people reacted to and why. No amount of social media can ever equal being in that live conversation with readers and getting something out of that connection; it is a real joy and for me what publishing is all about. When I listen to people’s questions, I feel I learn just a little bit more about the book I wrote. They often know it better than you do because as an author, you tend not to re-read what you have written. All of this helps you to be a better writer.”

Her latest project is another historical series – The Burning Chambers trilogy - and she has just returned from Carcassonne where once again, the first book will begin.

“The first book won’t be out until 2018, so I am really in that fantastic period of research which I enjoy so much. I am totally immersed in 16th century French history at the moment. The second book is in Amsterdam and the final one in South Africa – I planned that rather well,” she laughs.

As well as her historical fiction, Kate has also written a series of contemporary and gothic novels and, as founder of the Orange Women’s Prize for Fiction, now the Baileys Women’s prize, she is passionate about discovering exciting new books.

“For me, a day without reading is a day wasted. I read every night before I go to sleep, whether that is fiction or historical books, plays or poems for research. The prize is a celebration of creativity and fantastic writing, of interesting, imaginative books which will be loved by women and men. We look for excellence, originality and accessibility and it is not always easy to achieve all three. Although I am not a judge, I still read every single one and this year, every single book we long-listed had all three in abundance.”◆

Kate Mosse is at Briarfields Bookfest, Briarfields Hotel, Main Street, Titchwell, on Sunday, June 7. Tickets have sold out, but future Briarfields Bookfest events include thriller writer Sophie Hannah on October 11; www.briarfieldshotelnorfolk.co.uk

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