Five questions for: Katherine Woodfine

Five questions for: Katherine Woodfine

Author Katherine Woodfine talks about her new book and relocating to the north of England. 

What is your new book about and how do you feel about bringing the series to a close?

Nightfall in New York is the final story about intrepid Edwardian “young lady detectives” Sophie Taylor and Lil Rose, taking them across the Atlantic to New York on a grand ocean liner for one last, high-stakes mystery. I’ve written eight full-length books about these characters, so I do feel sad to be saying goodbye. But at the same time, it feels right to draw their adventures to a close. I hope readers who have been following the series all the way through will enjoy the grand finale.

When did you leave London for pastures new, and why did you make the move?

I’m a northerner originally—I grew up in Lancashire and worked for several years in Manchester before moving to London. I returned north to Lancashire in 2018, mostly to be closer to family. In London we were living in a small flat, but here we have got a lot more space and a garden for our daughter to play in—and access to some incredibly beautiful countryside.

Is the north an exciting place to be in terms of writing and literature, and if so, why?

I think so. There is a real sense of possibility and opportunity here. The north has a rich literary history, and there is lots of excellent arts and cultural activity. There are brilliant northern publishers, such as Manchester’s Comma Press and Leeds’ Peepal Tree, and amazing festivals too, such as Manchester Literature Festival, Lancaster Litfest and Harrogate’s Crime Writing Festival.

As publishing is gradually becoming a little less London-centric, it’s been great to see new initiatives starting up, such as Children’s Books North, as well as publishers opening up new northern offices. Growing up in a Lancashire village, publishing felt very remote and inaccessible to me: we never had an author visit our school, and I’m not sure I fully realised that writing was a “real” career that was actually possible for someone like me. I’m glad to see that beginning to shift a little, and I’m excited to see what will happen next.

Is there anything you miss about literary life in London?

Absolutely—primarily friends and colleagues. But I also miss the ease of dropping into a publisher’s office for a meeting, or popping into an event or book launch. We also had a wealth of brilliant bookshops on our doorstep when we lived in London, though one of the great pleasures of moving back to the north-west has been discovering amazing independents such as Storytellers, Inc, Ebb & Flo and Sam Read, as well as some fantastic branches of Waterstones.

What are you planning on doing next, in terms of writing or events?

I have a couple of projects in the works, including something new for Barrington Stoke, which previously published my books Rose’s Dress of Dreams (illustrated by Kate Pankhurst) and Sophie Takes to the Sky (illustrated by Briony May Smith). I love working with them and I’m very excited about this new book, which will be out next year.