Woking Writers Circle member Catherine Rogan published her first novel, Mighty Like a Rose, under the pen name Kitty Campanile, back in January 2015. Set in the fictional West Yorkshire mining town of Thornethorpe at the time of the 1984-85 miners’ strike, Mighty Like a Rose follows housewife Mary Ryder on her journey from neat detached house to the frontline of the UK’s longest-running national industrial dispute. Catherine, who is a rights adviser for a charity, said: “The miners’ strike is a huge part of the cultural background where I come from, and while it is passing into folklore many of the lessons of the strike still have relevance today. There is a parallel between the work of the women’s groups in 1984, setting up communal kitchens to keep communities fed, and the growth of food banks today. The miners’ strike may have ended in defeat for the men, but it did give a voice to the women who formed groups to support the miners – many of the women are still active in politics today.
“From start to finish it took me around 15 months to write the book. The story was completed after about six months and then there was a long period of editing, getting feedback and editing some more. It was tapped out on an elderly laptop on the dinner table over weekends and evenings. I self-published the book through Amazon Createspace. It’s a straightforward process, although there were a few hiccups. Createspace expects a margin of error in printing the covers, so there mustn’t be any important information too close to the edge. Neither I nor my cover artist realised this so it was initially rejected. I had to copy and paste individual roses to make a border – I can still see roses if I close my eyes! I’m indebted to friends who beta-read and proofread the book – if you are going to self-publish you really do need fresh eyes to spot any mistakes or clumsy phrasing. I also recommend getting professional cover design – Amazon is a crowded market and you want your book to stand out. It’s a little strange seeing my words in an actual book, but it’s exciting too – I’ve already been asked to sign a copy!”
Since then, Mighty Like a Rose has received five star reviews, been made into an audio book, and Catherine has gone on to release a book of short stories – Forget Me Not. Catherine says: “Many of the short stories are ones I’ve read out at the writers’ circle and I’ve received valuable feedback on them. It’s an opportunity to put out a different style of writing.”
Catherine is working on the sequel to Mighty Like a Rose and also on a new project. “I’ve got an idea about a story set around the Northern Soul scene in the mid seventies – I’m going to release it chapter by chapter on my blog and get feedback as I go. It’s going to be an interesting experiment!”