Childhood: Spent most of it in Tanzania in East Africa where her parents were English missionaries. ‘We four kids were allowed to do anything we liked, as long as we avoided getting bitten by snakes, or eaten by crocodiles or other wild animals. We fished and hunted and swam in rivers.’
Best known for: The Rain Queen which sold more than a million copies.
How many books published: 14
Most recent book: Congo Dawn
How Katherine became a writer: ‘When I was 10 the family moved to England. I felt the loss of my homeland very deeply. I was fortunate as my class teacher taught me how to write free verse. I poured out my emotions, filling an exercise book with poems. Writing became my way of relating to the world and to myself. I’ve been doing it ever since, first through diaries and short stories, and now novels.’
Star Sign: Cancer
Quotable quote: ‘Everyone I’ve met who has set foot in Africa has been captured by the place. It seems to have an almost inexplicable power. I’ve heard it suggested that since all humans originated in that continent we feel a sense of homecoming when we go there.’
Past-times: Swimming in the sea, wandering on beaches, travelling just about anywhere – and reading novels of course!
Did you know? Katherine was once a devoted horse-rider. Along with her two sisters, they built an odd collection of mounts including a very dangerous ex-stock pony that broke Katherine’s nose and blackened her eye. She abandoned horses when she discovered boys. But ‘like any old love, the passion for horses remains inside you.’ Katherine is the patron of the Christopher Strong Education Trust which supports training teachers in rural Tanzania.
Favourite Book: There are so many but the latest one I enjoyed was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. And I always read Anita Shreve novels.
Katherine likes: Her dog Darcy, a Staffy-whippet cross. She sits at her feet while she writes and always let’s her know when it’s time to stop.
Dislikes: Navigating around cities – Katherine confesses she’s hopeless with maps (even Google maps confuse me). She often gets lost in a shopping centre.