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Media Kit : Media Kit 2013
cover story cover story delving into dark corners You only have to look at the beaming face of bestselling author CATHY KELLY to know that she has been blessed with a sunny disposition. But in her latest novel she veers off from her usually optimistic outlook to examine darker aspects of human behaviour, as LIZZIE RILEY reports. Cathy Kelly loves to knit. ‘I’ve gotten totally obsessed with these scarves,’ she says and it is very easy to picture this effervescent Irishwoman up to her ears in wool, a bemused smile on her face as one of her Jack Russells attempts to run off with a thread. ‘Having a dog on your lap while knitting is not ideal, but it is possible,’ Cathy says. ‘I’m a very bad knitter, but I am determined to crack knitting. I can’t actually make anything except scarves.’ When I ask her if she ever donates her scarves to charity she crackles with laughter in response.‘Oh God, I’d be mortified to give them away for charity!They’re pretty mediocre.’ Cathy is not the sort of person, however, to give up easily. ‘I ’ve decided I need to try something bigger, so I’ve got the pattern and ordered the wool for a cardigan. It’s a really simple one; even someone who has never seen a cardigan will be able to knit [it],’ she says. ‘I am determined I am going to do it.’ Cathy K elly When she’s not tackling the complexities of knitting, Cathy can often be found writing – and maintaining her reputation as one of Ireland’s bestselling authors.Her last novel,Homecoming,topped the Australian bestsellers chart when it was released in 2010. Cathy’s latest novel,The House on Willow Street, is the story of four women, each strong in their own way and learning how to face their past in order to move into the future. Like many of Cathy’s novels,The House on Willow Street is a gratifying balance of heartwarming tales and topical issues — although at times it’s a little darker than her previous work. Mistreatment of women, whether through physical violence or psychological abuse, features strongly in the novel, bringing to light its often long-lasting effects on its victims. One of the novel’s characters, Danae, is the friendly but reserved town postmistress who struggles to overcome the guilt and shame of her abusive past, and it’s only when her heartbroken niece, Mara, comes to stay that she begins to heal. The mistreatment of women is an issue that Cathy is passionate about, and her work as a UNICEF ambassador only increases that passion. ‘I am absolutely a feminist and I have always been a feminist,’ Cathy says, dismissing the assumption that her label of chick-lit author automatically means otherwise. She tells me how frustrated she was after once reading a review that stated she was clearly not a feminist. ‘It made me so mad. I was so offended.’ Cathy also tells me about the alarming number of women in Africa who are subjected to violence and cruel inequalities:‘When you look at the women and children, they are almost always the victims. And they are the people in whom the HIV rates are growing all the time.’ But as Cathy highlights in The House on Willow Street, the problem of violence is not limited only to poorer countries. The World’s Women, a report published by the UN in 2010, found that 48 per cent of women surveyed in Australia had experienced some sort of physical violence during their lifetime, compared to only 13 per cent in Hong Kong.The report also found that more than 25 per cent of Australian women who had been in a relationship had experienced physical violence at the hands of their partner. Domestic abuse can have severe psychological consequences because it often recurs over long periods of time. ‘It’s appalling and it’s still a huge part of life all over the world.This belief that violence against women – emotional or physical – is some sort of lower socioeconomic thing [is false],’ Cathy says. ‘People who have worked in journalism will know that women from better socioeconomic backgrounds can hide abuse better.’ It’s a difficult topic to write about, and while Cathy is uncertain how it will be received, she felt compelled to write on it. ‘I don’t know why I was drawn to write about it this time. I worried that it was very dark, but I knew at the time that this was the story I just had to write.’ The current financial hardships facing much of the world – and Europe in particular – are also touched upon in the novel. Considering at the moment that a news story appears almost daily about impending financial doom within Europe and the possible collapse of the euro, this is not surprising. ‘I was conscious while I was [writing the book] that not everywhere is experiencing it the same at the moment,’ she says. ‘It’s been quite difficult for Ireland, particularly because we had the years when ever ything was absolutely fabulous but we didn’t really know things were going wrong with the banking situation. It’s been rather horrible over here and I think people went through a huge period of losing hope, which is a terrible thing.When a nation starts to lose hope in things we are done for.We say,“How will we ever get out of this problem?” But we have a new government now and I think we have hope for the future.’ Despite the dark undertones of The House on Willow Street, Cathy manages to keep the story light. ‘I don’t want to depress people,’ she says. ‘I want there to be a warm connection, because that’s what I need when I read.That’s what’s in me and I hope that’s what I transmit.To me, books are like little gifts that you send out and they’re little parts of you. I’m a good counsellor for my friends and I like to think my books are little counsellors going out into the world.’ And Cathy truly is the right type of person to be sending out little packages of hope to the world. Not only is she a humble knitter, bestselling author and UNICEF ambassador, but she is also an unofficial spokesperson for neglected and abused animals. Danae in The House on Willow Street owns a bunch of clucky battery hens, a small detail that reflects Cathy’s own love for the feathered creatures. She tells me of a woman who recently adopted hundreds of battery hens to save them from slaughter due to new laws in the European Union. The laws were designed to improve the conditions of hens by phasing out the use of cramped battery cages, but they have also resulted in the culling of thousands of hens by farmers unable to meet these new conditions. Cathy says she would love to adopt some herself but can’t because of her dogs. ‘We should’ve gotten hens before the dogs; the other way round wouldn’t work.’ At the mention of them, I ask Cathy how her dogs – Licky, Dinky and Scamp – are doing.Their influence is evident throughout the novel – which is dedicated to them – in the fact that many of the characters own dogs. Her three mischievous Jack Russells have grown and seem to be better behaved than the last time we spoke. ‘They’re completely fabulous and adorable,’ Cathy says, describing how they all fight to sit with her. ‘Everything has hair on it. Only Licky has white hair, and yet the house is covered in white hair,’ she continues, confirming that although she is a bestselling author she, like the rest of us pet owners, is familiar with the endless battle against pet hair. The House on Willow Street by Cathy Kelly is published by HarperCollins, rrp $32.99. When you look at the women and children, they are almost always the victims. And they are the people in whom the HIV rates are growing all the time. www.goodREadIngmagaZInE.Com good rEAding maRCh 2012 8 good rEAding maRCh 2012 9 Play read first chapter or view more books any digital features can be viewed online including audio and video editorial paGes online - diGital features link to ... link to ... link to ... hover ... video link ...
Media Kit 2012
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