Today I welcome Kate Belle , author of ‘Being Jade’ and ‘The Yearning’ to my website to talk writing and gardening with me. All I ask of a book is that it takes me between it’s covers and makes me cry a little, laugh a little and think a little, but mostly it whisks me away to someplace else. I think you’ll find both Kate’s books will do this for you. I loved them. Kate is a Melbourne author whom I met at the RWA conference this year.
Hi Jane, wasn’t the conference a blast this year! I came home on a huge high. And as one of the co-conveners of next year’s conference in Melbourne, really inspired to create an event that equals it. Thanks for having me over today!
1 What do you like starting with a seed, a seedling or an advanced mature tree?
I have great admiration for gardeners who start with seeds. That’s true dedication to the art of gardening I think. Sadly I don’t have the patience– unless they’re big easily planted seeds like corn, beans or zucchini.
I tend to leave things in the ground for awhile, to see if they have what it takes to survive, before I give them the nurturing they need to thrive. It’s the same with writing, I prefer to put my energy into something already viable. I don’t have enough time in my day for weak plants or ideas that need lots of time and effort and may not survive in the long term.
And I find it so satisfying at the end, to stand back with a beer in hand admiring a flourishing vegetable garden rich with produce. Or a manuscript layered with deeply real characters and complex plot lines.
2. When you create a path is it a mystery tour, or a definite plan to get from A to B?
A satisfying path incorporates a little of both, don’t you think? Like a book, a garden path needs to be entertaining, beautiful, take a few unexpected turns, but in the end it has to take you somewhere and not end nowhere. A garden path (or a book) that ends suddenly, that gives you nothing for the journey you’ve just taken, is just plain disappointing.
3. When it’s time to prune do you get out the secateurs or the chain saw?
I don’t think my over protective partner would let me near his chainsaw, mores the pity!
There is a dangerous lure to chainsaws I find appealing. I put them in the same category as motorbikes – big, noisy, slightly risky but exciting. As with my writing, my garden pruning is usually of the secateurs variety, although when necessary, I’ll break out the big machine and chop chunks off things to let more light in.
In Being Jade I had the unenviable task of chain-sawing out an entire point of view – all 30,000 words of it. It takes a special kind of bravado to do that. But the book is vastly better for it.
4. How easy is it for you to let people loose in your garden to weed and plant – even to dig holes where you tell them?
Like writing a new book, maintaining a garden alone is a big job. It’s easy to become fond of a plant that has outlived its place and as its creator of the garden you can be reluctant to remove it. It’s important to share the load both in the garden and in writing. It’s important to find other gardeners you trust, who can help you identify the parts of the garden that need renovation and even give you some ideas for improvement you might not have otherwise thought of. Gardens and books are always better for the contributions of other like minded souls.
5. Can you layer?
Is there any other way? A one or two dimensional garden, like those neat square patches of lawn bordered by daisies, might be practical and functional but they are so very dull. They don’t inspire anyone to dream. They don’t provide sustenance or pleasure (unless you are a neat freak). Gardens like those barely warrant a second glance. Layered gardens (and books) are truly enriching and we can discover something new every time we enter them
6 Would you rather put a plant in a pot, or in the garden, or out in the paddock?
Plants in pots are lovely to look at but they are high maintenance. They need help to live because they exist outside of their natural environment.
I’m all for plants in paddocks, but given I live an urban environment (albeit a leafy one) they are too far away for me to look at and enjoy.
A plant in the garden, however, has the freedom to grow into itself. It doesn’t require constant attention to survive, but can be enjoyed from a window or decking or a chair set under the shade of a tree. It doesn’t require constant attention, is close enough to be enjoyed, and is able to be what it is meant to be.
7. What stage would you say your newest work is at – in gardening terms?
Seedlings everywhere. I have about four of them at the moment, in various stages of health and growth. I’m having trouble deciding which one to put my energies into.
Most of my time is being spent on writing the first book in my erotic romance series, Master of Love, featuring the charismatic and masterful lover, Ramon Mendez. Ramon hit the digital platforms last year in the form of two novellas, but I got the rights to him back this year and now I’m redeveloping his story from beginning to his happy ever after ending. With some intensive fertilising and watering over the next few months I hope he will be a strong, fully grown, flowering tree by the end of this year.
8. Do you have a favourite, flower, leaf or tree?
I don’t consider myself a romantic, but I do love roses. The must be scented though. And big. And dramatic. No ordinary little bush rose for me, oh no! I want an eye catching rose with a mouth watering scent. The kind of rose you can’t walk past without sticking your nose in the centre and breathing its essence deep into your lungs. The kind of rose that leaves you feeling wistful and sad when its petals shrivel and fall away.
Thank you so much Kate for joining us today. That rose reminds me of the Peace rose that my mother loved so much.
Thanks, Jane, it’s been great fun. And reminded me I must get out and clear the winter weeds from my poor vegie patch and get planting for a summer crop!