I love good science fiction films. (With plenty of popcorn. Salty and sweet).
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I didn’t begin writing seriously until I was in my forties. By which time I’d had a successful career in business in London, had my children and moved to the country. The move from city to country was very important to me as a way of slowing down and tapping into my creativity. Up until that point, my life had been a bit of a roller-coaster ride and I wanted a different pace – and peace!
I’d waited a long time to write, and perhaps that’s why I more or less wrote two books at the same time. Because my second published novel, The Memory of Lost Senses, was written before my début, The Last Summer. I spent years researching my period, and then another few years writing and rewriting The Memory of Lost Senses. But The Last Summer was different: it was written in the first six months of 2010, sold later that same year, and published in the UK in 2012 - the same year I turned 50!
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Well, it certainly wasn’t science, which was in itself something of a black hole to me. But that’s perhaps because it was a subject first taught me by nuns. And nuns and science don’t really go together, do they? And Sister Aiden, the nun who introduced me to physics, chemistry and biology (the latter, allocated the least time, never went near the Human aspect), was not very Godly, good or kind. But that’s another story… which in turn leads me on, because of course stories were my favorite thing, and the greatest thing I learned at school was a love of literature, and the power of imagination.
In English lessons, I could nearly always see the book we were reading. I was there - inside the pages, amidst the drama. And, once transported, once immersed, it wasn’t always easy to reengage with the real world, or with Sister Aiden and her science.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Dithering about words.
Did you learn anything from writing THE ECHO OF TWILIGHT and what was it?
The power of memory. And that our childhoods, those early landscapes and people, remain with us and do not fade. We carry endless snapshots and slow-reel films with us into the future. And later, if we wish to, they’re there for us to draw on, piece together, and sometimes find meaning and comfort.
What part of Pearl did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved Pearl at all stages! In fact, she’s possibly my most favorite of all my characters. At the start of the novel, I loved her innocent view of the world, and her determination and ambition. And I had fun writing her in the first person: seeing world events unfold through her eyes; telling silly lies, making high-handed and hasty judgments, falling back on Kitty’s old proverbs and superstitions; trying to figure it all out – that way we do when we’re young. And I particularly enjoyed taking her to Northumberland, where I grew up, and then to Scotland – where I spent so much of my childhood.
If you could introduce Ottoline to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
If I had to introduce Ottoline to a character from one of my own books… I think I’d introduce her to Mabel Forbes (The Snow Globe). The two women have a lot in common and I can see them forming a great friendship, and sort of liberating each other; taking trips to Italy together and perhaps even meeting up in Rome with Cora (The Memory of Lost Senses).
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
To narrow it down to only one is almost impossible, because via my reading I’ve had quite a few. And I have to look to those writers who captured me as a reader to know who shaped me as a writer: The Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Rosamond Lehmann, and the wonderful and for so long forgotten author, Elizabeth Taylor. Each of them – and more besides – have influenced and affected me through their work. Each of them have inspired me - lifted me, plunged me, and sometimes left me breathless by the seemingly effortless beauty of their prose. I know I’ll never be able to match their brilliance, but the impetus to try is there!
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
To read those authors I’ve just mentioned.
Who was your first boyfriend?
Ha, the man I’m married to! But although we dated in our teens, we later broke up and spent about decade apart, and with other people. So it wasn’t until we were a bit older that we got together again and got married. Which just goes to prove, timing is everything!
What are you most passionate about today?
My children, all of our children: their wellbeing and safety in an increasingly troubled world. As I get older, I’m less sure, less opinionated and more considered. And though it’s hard to be contemplative and philosophical about life in a world that demands opinion, demands minute-by-minute updates and reaction on social media, I think the internet and social media are the greatest threat to our wellbeing, and to our ability to engage with ourselves as human beings, and with nature.
If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
To not be so honest! Particularly in my early career. (I had internship at Vogue – organized by the then editor Beatrix Miller, who later set up numerous interviews for me, and then chastised me for making clear what I did not have – including typing and shorthand: “You should have said yes, and then done one of those crash courses on Oxford Street!”). Ah, the benefit of age and hindsight!
Where can readers stalk you?
On Twitter - @judithkinghorn – where I love to connect with readers and talk about books, or via my Facebook page, where I post news about my own books. Readers can also message me directly via the ‘contact’ page on my website. I reply to every message personally.
As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.
In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer.
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...
“A gripping tale of family secrets and a comedy of manners...Historical fiction fans will not want to miss this gem!” –Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl
“Those who love the blockbuster show Downton Abbey will find much to enjoy.” –Historical Novel Society