I am a Glasgow-based author with a degree in History from Manchester University and previous careers in marketing, politics and teaching English Language and Literature, including persuading reluctant teenage boys into a lot of creative writing! After years of talking about it, I finally started writing seriously about 3 years ago, researching and writing my debut novel, Blood and Roses, which is a work of historical fiction set in the medieval Wars of the Roses. I am passionate about telling stories centred around characters: whatever time period people are in, we share many of the same challenges and responses, it is very often just the mechanisms we have at our disposal to deal with them that alter. I am particularly interested in strong female characters – placing voices that have been too-often lost back centre stage and re-imagining (well-researched) historical events through different perspectives. I am looking forward to sharing stories and experiences with prospective readers and new story-tellers.
About writer's work
My debut novel, Blood and Roses, was published on 11 January 2016 by Yolk Publishing. The novel tells the story of Margaret of Anjou and her pivotal role in the Wars of the Roses, exploring the relationship between Margaret and her son and her part in shaping the course of the bloody political rivalry of the fifteenth century. This is a feminist revision of a woman frequently imagined only as the shadowy figure demonised by Shakespeare. Blood and Roses examines Margaret as a Queen unable to wield the power and authority she is capable of, as a wife trapped in marriage to a man born to be a saint and as a mother whose son meets a terrible fate she has set in motion. The main conflicts in the novel reflect both the issues of the age – the challenge of holding onto a crown in a kingdom riven by dynastic struggle in which loyalties shift like quicksand – and the personal price to be paid by being a woman outside her time.
I also write short stories and have had some success with this - I was recently 3rd prize winner in the 2015 West Sussex Writers Short Story Competition and a finalist in the Scottish Arts Club 2015 Short Story Competition. My most recent story, Still Waters, can be seen in the January edition of iScot magazine and is the first which an author has illustrated – this has been fascinating to see how someone would visualise my words. All the stories have a dark element and, sometimes, a comically dark aspect – I describe them as twisted and, like my novel, they are very character-driven.
To give me another voice, I also regularly blog as Heroine Chic, casting a historical, and often hysterical, eye over women in history, popular culture and life in general. One aspect of the blog is a recast of novels/tv shows/films with historical characters – they also include a lot of video clips and music so they are great fun to do.
Finally, from 2016 I will be one of the authors on the Scottish Book Trust author-mentoring programme to develop my second novel, another historical work featuring Chaucer and a lot of political spin. This is a great honour and will be invaluable to my own growth as a writer.
Websites featuring the authorCatherine Holkin's Website Catherine Holkin's Facebook PageCatherine Holkin's Blog
Current events and projects
I am happy to work with adults or teenagers 15+ and can offer readings and practical workshops either solo or as part of a collaborative group/panel. Themes/topics that could be explored beyond readings and discussions of the writing process:
Turning history into stories – where fact and fiction meet and finding the stories in the gaps. I am particularly interested in ‘hidden voices,’ particularly bringing women to the fore.
Creative writing top tips - overview.
Writing a successful short story.
Bringing characters to life.
The power of setting.
Making a structure work – clues and smoking guns.
Word play – the building blocks of stories.
Workshops can be tailored to a variety of ages and situations but would all have the outcome of producing a piece of writing – a sense that everyone has a voice, they just need the tools and confidence to find its expression.