Meet The Author: Francesca Catlow

A bit about Francesca Catlow…

I am Francesca Catlow author of women’s fiction with emotional twists, love and a little suspense.

I’ve always been rebellious, living my life unconventionally. I was a performer and dance teacher. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I decided to undertake a degree with the Open University. Even then, it was only after writing the first draft of my novel that I signed up to take a Creative Writing module.

This is not the usual way around. But, my whole life I’ve been fiercely independent in how my life was to be lived.

Q – What inspired you to become a writer?

A – Lockdown. I was a performer and owner of a performing arts academy as well as expecting my second child when lockdown hit. In June 2020 with a one month old baby in my arms, I was reading a book and when I was done, I announced to my husband: “I could do that. I could write a book.” Something I’ve said in the past many times. So he told me I should, and so I did. I had written a few basic scripts before but nothing like a novel. I wrote my first draft of The Little Blue Door in four weeks. Only after that did I sign up to take my next Open Uni module choosing to move away from my previous studies in science to a creative writing module. That left me editing my first novel, looking after two small children and my husband who has severe epilepsy all while doing my Uni work. I loved every moment of it. Editing and taking that module was very hard work, but getting a distinction gave me the confidence to publish my book and pushed me to take myself seriously as an author.

Q -Who are your biggest literary influences?

A – I have to say Diana Gabaldon, because I was reading one of her books when I decided I could write a book too. I love so many genres and styles that picking out anyone is hard, but as I was reading her work when I decided to make the life changing decision to become a writer, she most certainly influenced me the most.

Q – How do you handle negative reviews or criticism of your work?

A – Usually I smile or shrug. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating when you feel someone hasn’t read the book you wrote (that’s not what it meant/said etc) or openly didn’t read past page 3 only to give a 1 star. I even had a 1 star review because my novella apparently wasn’t long enough. I find things like that funny if I’m honest. When something does mildly upset me (which is rare) I just head over to reread all my 5 star reviews and remember some people hate books I love too. I think some people can be very rude when they review books, but I just feel glad to be a happy person myself. I accept that not everyone will like me let alone my books, and I’m okay with that. I’m very lucky and I try my best to spread kindness and shake off any negative attitudes of others. That’s in life not just book reviews.

Q – What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A – Do it. Pick up a pen or your lap top (or in my case my phone as I wrote all of my first novel on my phone while breastfeeding). There are only excuses for things you don’t want to do. If you want to write, then write. Keep adding words every single day until you’re done. This is your life and it’s amazing to birth a whole new world – so give it a go and enjoy the process of creation.

Q – What do you hope readers take away from your writing?

A – Raw emotion and complete escapism. I like to tell stories with broken hearts and bones muddled in with hope and love. I set pain against beautiful scenery to balance things out a little. But, no matter what, I like to take readers on an emotional journey and to connect with characters enough that they feel like they’re on that rollercoaster with friends.