Kate Holden is the author of In My Skin: A Memoir and The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days, both best-selling non-fiction memoirs published by Text. She is also a longstanding columnist for The Age. Some of her essays and interviews on memoir are also available on her website.
What inspired you to become a memoirist?
I never intended to be a memoirist. What I wanted was to explain things that I’d found surprising to other people who would perhaps find them surprising. The best way, it turned out, was to explain how I found them in the first place, and for that I had to explain who I was. It turned out that memoir was yet another surprise; I’d been imagining a kind of coffee-table book about brothels.
How have readers responded to your two published memoirs? Did you ever consider framing your stories as fiction?
People appreciated the candour I brought into my books, and that I offered such an intimate voice. I did conceive of my second memoir as a novel originally, because I thought it had drama that wouldn’t be believed in real life. Some readers do still get a bit confused, but it’s all quite true-to-life.
What’s your key tip for people beginning a memoir project?
I’d say that the first thing is to write your story FOR YOURSELF. Worry later about what other people – your family, your enemies, the public – will think of it. Plenty of time for worry! Just enjoy it from the start.
Join Kate and discover your own story in Breathing on the Mirror: Writing Memoir. Saturday 30 July, 10am-4pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.