After school Kate set off for London pursuing the early music scene. Working in temp secretarial jobs, she took singing lessons and took part in amateur music making. Then, after a spell with the Royal Aeronautical Society, working on one of the magazines, Aerospace, she took a course in journalism at the London College of Printing, and was hooked.
“That was 1979. Since then I’ve been working for McGraw Hill Financial, editing books and as a specialist writer in energy and commodities.
“I wrote in my twenties, not good stories, but I missed writing fiction. In 2012, I took an Arvon course; I started working on an idea I’d had for years, and I applied for the Faber Academy. During the six months, I learned so much technique.”
In 2014 realising the book wasn’t working, Kate had a new idea. The debut took six months to write.
“I wrote it on the tube in longhand. I put it away for the summer, then started layering it.”
It was accepted by agent Nicola Barr, who helped her improve it then got a deal.
Who is Kate McQuaile
Date of birth: Dec, 1954.
Education: Convent of Mercy, in Drogheda. Birbeck, University of London: Diplomas in Opera Performance, and Concert Singing Studies.
Home: Notting Hill, London.
The Day Job: Journalist and writer.
Interests: Singing. “I do concerts and recitals.”
Favourite Writers: Edna O’Brien; John McGahern; John Banville, “but I prefer him as Benjamin Black,” Bram Stoker. “Jane Austen’s Emma is the book I constantly reread.”
Second Novel: Set in North County Louth, it’s about a friend who, skypeing, goes to answer the door, and is never seen again.
Top Tip: Keep writing until you have finished the first draft, rather than keep perfecting everything.
The Debut: What She Never Told Me:Quercus: €17.99. Kindle: €4.99.
When Louise Redmond’s mother dies, she is distraught. The grief is bad enough, but what’s worse is that her mother took her secrets to the grave. And Louise is desperate to know who her father is.
As she starts her quest, strange memories surface sending her into a tailspin. Meanwhile, her marriage is teetering on the brink.
The Verdict: An engrossing study of identity, secrets and the damage done in Ireland’s past.
Published in the Irish Examine on 19th March.
© Sue Leonard. 2016