Cathryn Haynes was born in Camberley. At the age of seven, her family moved to a house by the seaside in Sussex. She has always felt the sea beautiful, even on the greyest, coldest days.
When she was fourteen, her Father bought a holiday home in the depths of the countryside in St Weonard’s, Herefordshire. (Anybody heard of St Weonard? He was an Anglo-Saxon holy man who was buried in a golden coffin, beneath a Tump next to the church that bears his name. Not many teenagers can boast that their parish church has its own resident saint.)
She read English Language and Literature at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she was lucky enough to be tutored by the literary biographer Lyndall Gordon.
In her thirties, completely out of the blue, she developed Epilepsy; the rarest form, with wandering fugues.
This has been a nuisance, but she has not allowed it to crush her.
Cathryn now lives on the edge of the river-valley, in a flat with two small cats, a miniscule garden, a lifetime’s accumulation of books and music, and a laptop that keeps on crashing.
Cathryn can’t remember a time when she wasn’t able to read and write, so it has been part of her life for just that; a lifetime.
She loves fairy-tales, myths and legends, and also the works of women writers like Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and Angela Carter.
She had never thought of writing ‘properly’ until last August, when she met the sculptor, painter and novelist Sara Banerji at an Artweek’s open-house event at her home. Sara invited her to join the Creative Writing class that she runs every Tuesday morning at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Walton Street. Since then, under Sara’ watchful tuition, Cathryn has completed many new short stories. Cathryn also attends a creative poetry-writing group held by the poet Penny Boxall at The Old Library of the University Church of St Mary The Virgin’s on the High Street.
This February, Cathryn sent in a story to the Chipping Norton Literary Festival Short Story Competition, and to her amazement it won Third Prize, out of 270 entrants. Since then, she has been working hard on writing enough good stories to put together in a collection.
Q: Do you have a good luck writing talisman?
A: A sealing-wax seal I found in an antique stall in Monmouth market when I was 18. It bore the initial ‘C’, and the synchronicity seemed delightfully appropriate. I still use it to seal special letters.
Q: Do you have a favourite quotation?
A: ‘Comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.’ Angela Carter.
Q: If you could teleport anywhere real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: Mervyn Peake’s Castle of Gormenghast. Written with an artist’s visual sense, and such vividly poetic language. The characters are so marvellous; I want to seize Fuschia and cry ‘Don’t trust him!’