Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale ‘Enchantment’.
Her timeslip novel, ‘Some Veil Did Fall‘, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, ‘The Girl in the Painting‘ in February 2016 and ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ in March 2017. The experience of signing ‘Some Veil Did Fall‘ in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!
Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.
I asked Kirsty some questions based around the subjects of her books:-
What fascinates you about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?
Ooh, what doesn’t fascinate me? I think the thing that drew me to them initially was the whole Gothic incident of Rossetti digging up Lizzie Siddal’s body after she was dead, so he could retrieve a book of poems he’d buried with her. I know that’s a bit ‘urgh’ but you’ve got to admit it’s a good story.
I started to do some research after that on Lizzie and on the PRB, and the more I found out the more my jaw dropped. I did quite a bit of work on Lizzie for my Master’s Degree and if I ever progress to a Doctorate (ha ha) I’ll pick it up again. There’s so many layers to her whole situation, and above all that you have this overriding, quite dangerous passion between her and Rossetti. I was lucky that my tutor was as much of a Lizzie-fiend as I am, so we had some great conversations!
I also love the PRB artwork and the whole rebellious attitude. Rossetti’s pictures weren’t, in my mind, as brilliant as Millais’, but they were still ‘out there’ and must have caused quite a sensation in their day. A wonderful quotation that sticks in my mind is that Rossetti painted ‘pouting, inflated, over-sexed cream puffs’ – and that was from an art critic in 2012, so imagine how these rebellious young men were viewed in Victorian times?
Do you paint yourself?
I do, but I’m not brilliant at it! I like to do watercolours and pencil sketches, and have a love-hate relationship with coloured pencils. I think with me if I can’t write, I’ll draw or bake cakes to channel my creative side. Someone told me I draw like a ten-year-old, but I just happen to like doing sort of fantasy pictures with fairies and Gothic ladies and beautiful dresses.
I have done some really nice pencil sketches of people such as Marilyn Monroe and Louise Brooks, but I have issues with eyes and mouths and have put holes in the paper on too many occasions to be proud of. I lose my temper and attack the drawings with an eraser. My favourite pencil is about 3cm long. I’ll be gutted when it finally sharpens away to nothing…
Have you any art qualifications?
Ha ha – well now. I failed my Art O-level as I was too lazy to go in and stretch the paper for a watercolour. I ended up doing a really awful picture of a vase of flowers…with coloured pencils. My teacher must have despaired of me. She tried so hard to make me achieve what I was capable of. I remember walking back into the classroom to collect my pencil case after the exam as I’d forgotten it and just saw her shaking her head and staring at my picture. Whoops. Someday I will resit it, just out of devilment. I still cringe when I think about it! I also studied a bit of art history in my degree and found it incredibly interesting. I could have branched off and changed my degree to art history, but I stuck with the safer option of Literature.
You mention past lives in your books. Have you ever been regressed?
No, I haven’t! It’s something I’m very interested in, and would love to do it one day – but I’d probably be something really boring like a scullery maid. Or a cave-person. But perhaps that’s better than being someone like Anne Boleyn? I do have a horrible fear of drowning though, and hate even going underwater at the swimming baths. Maybe that’s something residual?
If someone painted a picture of you, what style would you want it to be and why?
Ohhh nice one. I’d go for someone like John Singer Sargent. He did some beautiful portraits, but I think that was also in relation to the beautiful outfits the ladies wore in Edwardian times. I can lose hours in research to get my characters in the correct clothing and particularly enjoyed searching for Lorelei’s outfits as I was writing The Girl in the Photograph.
I think if they could corset me up to make me look about three stone lighter I’d fit right in to those portraits. I love the clothes, I love the style and the Edwardians definitely had the edge in hourglass figures – much better than the twiglets women are supposed to unrealistically aspire to nowadays. I’ve never been a twiglet and I never will be. I happen to like my food too much.
Thank you, Kirsty, for some interesting answers. I look forward to reading your new book The Girl in the Photograph, which has another gorgeous cover. I’ve left it as a large picture, so that people can see the lovely detail.
What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group – an artists’ commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall – but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.
As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her – and they’re going to make sure she gets it.
Thank you for joining me, Kirsty. I hope the book sells really well.
You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk, catch her on her Facebook Author Page or follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry.
Have you any ghostly tales or stories of regression to tell? Please add them in the comments below.