Kirsty Capes’ first novel ‘Careless’ was released on 13th May to rave reviews. Gillian caught up with the debut novelist to find out more and why she feels it’s important that fiction holds ‘up a mirror to the world around us.‘
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Is ‘Careless’ the first novel you’ve written?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I was a big reader as a child and I loved getting lost in a story. I kept a diary, and wrote short stories and poetry throughout my teenage years, and went on to study Creative Writing at university, which is when I started writing Careless. It was my first attempt at a novel, having only written shorter work before that. But a lot of my shorter work ended up getting incorporated into the book.
You’ve mentioned in interviews how few books feature protagonists growing up in care. Why did you decide to focus on this in Careless?
I think it’s really important for fiction to hold a mirror up to the world around us; everyone should be able to find themselves represented in what they read. I couldn’t see myself in any of the fiction that I was reading and it bothered me. I felt that it was vital to tell a story that felt like I was being true to myself. I found the experience of writing the book incredibly cathartic for this reason.
What was it like working with Bernardine Evaristo?
Having Bernardine Evaristo as my PhD supervisor was an incredible experience. Bernardine is unbelievably generous with her time, especially when it comes to writers who are just starting out in their careers. Having the benefit of her knowledge of the craft, and her years of experience in the industry, was priceless. I wouldn’t be the writer I am now, and Careless wouldn’t be the book that it is, without her.
How do you hope to leave readers feeling at the end of the novel?
I hope the novel leaves readers with a little bit more of an insight into the realities of the care system. I also hope that it leaves them feeling hopeful: kids in care start out life at a disadvantage. But I want to show that their lives are just as valuable, and they are just as deserving of their dreams, in spite of this. I hope that that’s what readers take away from Bess’s story.
What do you plan on writing next?
I am currently writing my second novel, which is all about learning to love yourself in a world that isn’t always the most loving place to live. Like Careless I think it is a very hopeful story; and all about becoming comfortable in your own skin.
Kirsty Capes is the author of Careless, published by Orion (hardback, £12.99) and out now.
You can buy Careless here, via The Motherload®’s Amazon Affiliate Store.