Blog Tour – Q&A
Welcome to Quercus’ All Rivers Run Free blog tour! I had the splendid opportunity to put some questions to Natasha Carthew about her latest release, the themes and concepts explored within and how she winds down from putting pen to paper. It was a great interview and I really appreciate Natasha taking the time to share some details about All Rivers Run Free. Please check out all the other blogs taking part this week and support their posts as you will be spreading the word about a top-notch read.
19.04.2018 / Quercus / Fiction / Hardback / 288pp / 978-1786488626
About Natasha Carthew
Natasha Carthew has been published previously as a poet and young adult writer and her books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for several national awards including the Branford Boase. She lives in Cornwall with her girlfriend of twenty years and spends most of her time writing outdoors in all weathers. Her identity as a country writer has led her to become a survival expert, a trained walking-guide and to teach Wild Writing workshops.
About All Rivers Run Free
A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life.
Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran – her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband – she’s never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia – bringing back a memory she’s lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver.
It will take her into the fringes of a society she’s shunned, collapsed around its own isolation. It will take her through a valley ravaged by floods, into a world not too far from reckoning. It will take her in search of her sister, and the dark remembrance of their parting. It will take her, break her, remake her, in the shapes of freedom.
Natasha Carthew is a startling new voice from beyond the limits of common urban experience. She tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in prose that crashes like waves on rocks; rough, breathless and beautiful.
What was your initial inspiration for All Rivers Run Free and its characters?
My intention was to write about the harsh reality of rural poverty and social deprivation set against the beautiful Cornish landscape. My inspiration is born from reality.
What are you trying to achieve with All Rivers Run Free and do you think you succeeded?
I wanted to write an empathy driven story about grief and guilt and isolation, a story that said something important about the human condition. I needed to evoke understanding and compassion for a cast of characters who might not seem likeable; they are all damaged, stained, at first they seem to have no moral centre. I think I’ve achieved this through subtlety and restraint; just as in life, people are complex, multifaceted. As a writer I am interested in exploring themes that are uncomfortable and thought-provoking in a way that is stark, beautiful, for me this is my main job and the reason I am a writer.
Can you give us a few details about some of the concepts and ideas that you explore within your novel?
In All Rivers Run Free mental illness is at its core. It is not a subject that many people find easy to read in fiction but it was important for me to explore it openly. It is something that affects us all for different reasons and at different times in our lives. It was my main priority to write Ia’s story truthfully and with compassion and it was really important to have her determination to get better a big part of her story. Through it all she never gives up hope, has faith that at some point things will get better or at the very least change. Importantly, this book is also about loss and the lengths that you might go to in order to heal that loss.
Is there a particular element in All Rivers Run Free that you especially enjoyed writing about?
I love writing about nature. I write outside in the Cornish countryside and for All Rivers Run Free I spent a lot of time writing by the River Tamar (which is the river in the book) and beside the River Lynher where I live, for me this is really important in order to get the descriptive parts of the book right.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing All Rivers Run Free?
I had one main challenge and that was the mapping of the River Tamar in detail and the logistics of what happened where. I managed to walk some of the river (where it didn’t include trespassing) but trying to imagine the characters walking the banks of the river from source to sea took a lot of time to get perfect, which eventually I did. The book has a beautiful hand drawn map of the journey Ia takes downriver, so as a reader there’s no chance of you getting lost.
Did you always know you were going to become an author/writer?
I have always been a writer; it was never a conscious thing because it was something I always did. I still have a box of ‘books’ that I wrote whilst I was primary school age and pre-school age before I could write, I told stories that went on for hours to keep from going to bed.
Are there any authors that influence your writing on any level, even after multiple books?
Cormac Mccarthy, Dorothy Allison, John Steinbeck, Daniel Woodrell – I’m a massive GritLit fan!
How long did it take you to plan and write All Rivers Run Free?
One year writing. One year editing.
Can you tell us in five words what being an author/writer means to you?
The alignment of my stars.
Did you take the time to celebrate finishing All Rivers Run Free?
When I finished writing All Rivers Run Free I climbed the highest tor on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall to celebrate and found a beautiful, small granite rock, I told myself when I got a publishing deal I would make that rock into a stone for a ring, six months later I did (it’s my lucky ring!)
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
Hiking, wild swimming, playing country music on my guitar. Any kind of adventure that ends with a log fire and an ice cold beer 🙂
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
An article Kit de Waal wrote for The Guardian: ‘Make room for working class writers’ 10th Feb 2018. As a working class writer myself, I think it’s really important that we discuss our backgrounds and the barriers that low social status can bring. The things that affected writers like us, we try to explore in our writing.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you for stopping by to check out my Q&A with Natasha Carthew. All Rivers Run Free is an exceptional read coming out this year and it deals with harsh themes, drama and taking a good look at our humanity. It was a great opportunity to ask Natasha about All Rivers Run Free and I hope everyone who leaves this post is feeling a little more informed about a fascinating read for 2018. Please check out the other posts going on this week and pop by again for more reviews, interviews and plenty of bookish posts.