kate atkinson

Literary Birthday – 20 December – Kate Atkinson

Happy Birthday, Kate Atkinson, born 20 December 1951.


  1. The beginning is the word and the end is silence. And in between are all the stories.
  2. Alternate history fascinates me, as it fascinates all novelists, because ‘What if?’ is the big thing.
  3. Why do cats sleep so much? Perhaps they’ve been trusted with some major cosmic task, an essential law of physics – such as: if there are less than five million cats sleeping at any one time the world will stop spinning.
  4. The great thing about writing compared to life is getting to tie things up.
  5. I don’t want to spoil the magic, but it’s a very curious thing that honestly baffles me. It’s the nearest we’ll ever get to playing God, to suddenly produce these fully formed creatures. It is a bit odd. Other aspects you work out more – you rework sentences, you rework imagery. But not characters.
  6. If you don’t have a unique voice, then you’re not really a writer.
  7. I need to be very isolated to write, and unfortunately isolation is often quite difficult to find. My ideal writing environment would be a country house hotel in the middle of nowhere, with full room service.
  8. I can hang on to a sentence for several years and then put it into a book that’s completely different from the one it started in.
  9. The cult of the individual is killing us. I think Twitter signals the death of western civilisation, but people have been saying that since Demosthenes.
  10. The legacy of the fairy story in my brain is that everything will work out. In fiction it would be very hard for me, as a writer, to give a bad ending to a good character, or give a good ending to a bad character. That’s probably not a very postmodern thing to say.
  11. When I’m writing, my neural pathways get blocked. I can’t read. I can barely hold a conversation without forgetting words and names. I wish I could wear the same clothes and eat the same food each day.
  12. In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense.

Kate Atkinson is an English author. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. Other critically acclaimed novels include Life After Life – winner of the Costa Novel Award, Human Croquet, A God in Ruins, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature. Visit her website: Kate Atkinson

Source for Image


TimDuncan, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Are you interested in more authors’ birthdays? Please click here: Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 20th December 2013