Kirsty was taken into care aged two. She had a positive experience, staying with the same family until she ‘aged out’ at 23, but she’s aware of the system’s downside.
“There are always social workers reviewing you, documenting you and checking up. And when you go through a rebellious stage, it gets pathologised. The normal becomes abnormal.”
A born writer, Kirsty’s started with TV and film reviews for a website. Then she wrote poems and short stories.
“Some of them were published in small magazines.”
She wrote the first draft of her debut, Careless, for her PhD.
“I needed the accountability and I work well to deadlines,” she says. “During the PhD I applied to different mentorship schemes. I got a year’s support on the Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme, and I won a scholarship for the Curtis Brown novel writing course. That was an amazing support.”
Meanwhile, Kirsty worked at a small independent publisher part-time, and when she needed a fulltime job, she moved on to Mills and Boon.
Who is Kirsty Capes?
Date of birth: 1993, in Chertsey, Shepperton.
Education: Thames Meade School in Shepperton; Strode’s college for A levels; Brunel University, BA, MA and PhD in Creative writing.
Family: Foster Mum, Dawn. Dog, Dougie Golden Retriever.
The Day Job: Senior Marketing Manager at Mills and Boon.
In Another Life: “I’d love to live in a cottage somewhere outside London with my dog; I’d like to write and work as well.”
Favourite Writers: Miriam Toews; Lemn Sissay; Elif Batuman; Sally Rooney; Anna Burns; Patricia Lockwood.
Second Novel: “I’ve finished my first draft.”
Top Tip: “Don’t give up. Grow a thick skin, and go for every opportunity, even if you think there’s no chance you will get it.”
The Debut: Careless. Orion: €15.99. Kindle: €9.02.
When 15-year-old Bess discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t know where to turn. Her social worker is useless; her foster mum won’t understand, and she hasn’t spoken to Boy in weeks. When her best friend Eshel tries to help it ends in an unholy mess. And Bess learns, yet again, that love is never unconditional.
The Verdict: A funny, visceral, tender book that makes you look at the world anew. I loved it.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 29th May.
© Sue J Leonard. 2021