Posted by: Natalie Hatch | November 9, 2009

Author Interview: Kathy Charles

Today’s guest is Aussie author Kathy Charles with her new book “Hollywood Ending”.

  • You were the recipient of a Varuna scholarship with Peter Bishop, can you tell us a little of how that helped you develop as a writer? Would you recommend it to others?

I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of the Varuna Harper Collins Award for Manuscript Development in 2007, however the novel I was working on at the time was ultimately never published. Staying at Varuna gave me the validation I was desperately craving, that someone felt like my writing might actually go somewhere and was worth investing time and effort in. Varuna also has a fantastic reputation, and got my work looked at by more people in the publishing industry. One of the best aspects of staying at Varuna is being given the opportunity to become part of the Alumni program. The Alumni community are so generous and supportive and run a fantastic blog site that I recommend to all writers (http://varunathewritershouse.wordpress.com/).

* Your story is quite dark at times, and follows two characters who have an obsession with hollywood stars (the dead kind), have you ever stalked a dead celebrity like they do? Or if you haven’t who would you stalk if you could? (promise we won’t tell the authorities)

I have a bit of an obsession with John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont in 1982. John Belushi was a famous comedian who started his career on Saturday Night Live, then went on to star in films like Animal House and The Blues Brothers. He was going to play the Bill Murray role in Ghostbusters when he died, and it’s rumored that the character of ‘Slimer’ was largely modeled on Belushi and his hard-partying ways. On my last trip to LA I got to see the room at the Chateau Marmont where he died, and in ‘Hollywood Ending’ the characters have a party in this room in Belushi’s honor. He was only thirty-three when he died, and his death had a massive effect on a generation who had grown to idolize him.

* Hank and Hilda hit it off as if they were old friends, which at first seemed strange because most teens I know aren’t at ease around the elderly, the friendship they form is refreshing where did your

Taken from The Age newspaper

inspiration come from?

I’ve always been interested in tales of ‘unlikely’ friendships: relationships between two people who on the surface appear to have nothing in common but end up connecting on a deeper level. One of my favorite movies is ‘Harold & Maude’, a love story about a teenage boy and a woman in her 80s. ‘Ghost World’ is another movie that features an unlikely friendship between a teen girl who is into punk and a man twice her age who collects gospel records. Hank and Hilda at first glance have little in common, but as the story goes on we discover they are both harboring terrible secrets about their pasts, and are desperate to connect with someone who understands their pain. There is a need in human beings to connect that transcends gender and age.

* Do you ever act out any scenes as you are writing them just to see if they add up? Which would be your favorite scene to do if you haven’t?

I work in the film industry so I often visualize my novels as movies, complete with opening credits and a soundtrack. I’ve actually visited many of the locations mentioned in ‘Hollywood Ending’, like the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, Marilyn Monroe’s crypt, and the site of the Twilight Zone Movie accident. In the novel Hank and Hilda go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to watch a movie, something I have never done before but would love to do. They run movies there during the summer and people bring blankets and fold-out chairs and sit amongst the gravestones, watching horror movies like The Shining and Suspiria. It sounds creepy but it’s meant to be a lot of fun.

* What advice would you give teens who are in the middle of writing their first Great Australian Literary debut novel?

Write what you are passionate about. Writing a novel takes a very long time and an enormous amount of dedication, and you have to live with that same story for months, even years. If you are successful in having your novel published, that story will be with you forever, so it’s important that whatever you write about is important to you. Don’t try to write what you think will get you published or what the latest trends are. Vampire novels might be hot at the moment but that could all change tomorrow. A lot of people thought I was really weird for writing about dead celebrities, but it’s an area I am really passionate about, and since ‘Hollywood Ending’ came out I’ve found plenty of like-minded people who are fascinated by exactly the same thing (there are still plenty of people who think I’m weird, though!).

* How has becoming a published author changed you?

When you’re unpublished you think if you could just get that one book published everything in your life will finally be okay. Then, when your book is published, you find a whole heap of other things to worry about, like if it’s selling well, if the stores are stocking it, how much publicity you are getting etc. You get to a point where it all becomes a bit overwhelming, and that’s when you realize that all that stuff doesn’t really matter, that it’s the actual process of writing that’s important and enjoyable. I’m starting to rediscover that joy again, but for a while I was really distracted by things that were superfluous.

* What story are you working on now?

I’m working on a manuscript about people who collect serial killer art, then after that, I don’t know. I’m eager to start writing in a different medium, perhaps a screenplay. I like the idea that in a feature film your characters can come to life in a way they don’t on the page. I’d love to write something in the horror genre, but I’d also love to write something about rock n roll mythology. But I’m still in that dreamy state where I’m waiting for the story to come along and convince me it has to be written. Until then I’ll just space out in front of Beatles Rockband.

Thanks so much for being part of our blog today. Kathy’s book is available at all good book stores.

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Responses

  1. Lovely interview, thank you for sharing. 🙂 Some good tips there for aspiring writers to soak in.

  2. Thanks for a fab interview, Kathy and Nat. Hollywood Ending sounds like a terrific read. I totally agree with writing what you’re passionate about rather than chasing the market.

  3. Amber if you can grab a copy of Kathy’s book. Vanessa passion is important, otherwise on the third edit you’ll be bashing your head against the table… oh hang on I do that, darn.

  4. i still in student

  5. […] Michael Gerard Bauer, Melanie Nilles, Kim Miller, Richard Harland, Kirsty Eagar, Tania Roxborogh, Kathy Charles, Scott Monk, Jacinta di Mase, Rebecca James, Jack Heath, Paul Collins, and Gwendolyn […]


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