Katharine Orton – Q&A

Katharine Orton

Katharine Orton

After gaining an English degree and an MA in creative writing, Katharine Orton worked for Barefoot Books in Bath before leaving to focus on her writing and her young family. She signed with her agent after taking part in the brilliant WoMentoring Scheme. Nevertell was Katharine’s first novel. She currently lives in Bristol.

Katharine can be found at:
Twitter: @KatharineOrton
Instagram: @katharineortonwrites
Website: www.katharineorton.com

Tell me what inspired you to write your most recent novel?

Mountainfell grew out of a big old mix of things. My grandparents were mountaineers, so mountains themselves have always fascinated me. On top of that I’m a massive nature lover, and I’m so interested in the relationship between us humans and the world around us – how we can mistreat it, even fear it, and how we (weirdly, I think!) see it as something separate from ourselves. I also wanted to write about feeling a bit different, or a bit out of place, and that journey of self-discovery that so many of us (if not all) end up going on at some point in our lives. All these different threads wove together to form Mountainfell.

What came first the characters or the world?

With some book ideas the characters come first, and in others it’s the world, but with Mountainfell, it was the mountain! Everything else – both the world and the characters – evolved around it and, in a way, grew out of it. The more I learned about the mountain, the more it influenced how Erskin – the main character – developed, and vice versa. So they were always kind of linked from the start.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

Nevertell was my first published book, and it was also the one that got me my agent too. Writing it and getting it into shape took me a really long time (a solid couple of years, if not more). I’d also written other things before Nevertell that sadly just didn’t get anywhere. These now sit forever in the hypothetical cupboard drawer (i.e. files on my laptop). That said, I was actually very lucky with my debut book, because it picked up attention from several publishers very quickly after being sent out!

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

Sadly I can’t listen to music when I write, because it’s just too distracting. If I were to pick a song to partner up with Mountainfell, however, I’d probably choose Mountain of Bone by Clutch, as the lyrics line up nicely.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Oh, definitely. I’d absolutely love to give writing sci fi a go… !

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’ve had lots of jobs, from being a copywriter where I did strange things like naming cheese, to working with traditional stained and fused glass (something which helped inspire another of my books: Glassheart).

Which author(s) inspire you?

I’m a huge fan of (and therefore massively inspired by) Max Porter, Madeleine Miller and Alan Moore.

Which genres do you read yourself?

I love to read anything and everything! From children’s books to sci fi and fantasy to what sometimes gets called ‘literary’ fiction, and everything in between. Basically, if it’s book shaped, I’ll give it a go.

What is your biggest motivator?

The promise of cake.

What will always distract you?

The promise of cake.

What were your favourite childhood books?

I was very much into the Narnia books as a child, which I would listen to repeatedly on audio. (And when I say audio, what I actually mean is my tape player, which I know makes me sound really old). My favourite childhood book of all time is one that my Nan gave me, called The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll. It has everything: epic adventure, humour, thrills, tragedy, and a talking beaver. I still love it to this day.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

Storysmith in Bristol. It’s my local, and it rules!

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Enough that, if I were to stack them into an actual pile, I would fear being crushed beneath it.

What is your current or latest read?

At the moment I’m reading The Legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood, I’m getting stuck into The Expanse books after loving the TV series, and I’ve just finished (and LOVED) the audiobook of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. I’ve just started the audiobook of The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd on the tail of that, and NEXT I’m looking forward to beginning Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh and Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez. (Once upon a time I was really good at reading just one book at a time. That seems to have fallen apart slightly).

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

I can’t wait for Max Porter’s new book, Shy. Lanny and Grief Is The Thing With Feathers are two of my absolute all-time favourites.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

I love writing children’s books, particularly middle grade, because I think 12 is about the age where my interest in reading books actually started to take off. Before then I hadn’t been that bothered, and would probably have been classed as a ‘reluctant reader’. I just didn’t see the point in reading, because I had an imagination full of my own stuff all going on that I didn’t want interrupted. Then I learned that reading isn’t the process of a book imposing something on you from above. It’s more collaborative than that, and you, the reader, are a vital part in creating (imagining) the world of the book. And after that, there was no stopping me.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

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Mountainfell

Katharine Orton. Walker Books. (320p) ISBN 9781529503296

Mountainfell

Mountainfell

This was such a brilliant book I finished it in a day, not even eating until I’d found out what happened to everyone.

It has everything! Dragons, adventure, family, friendship, discovered magic, dastardly villains, ecological crisis, and much more.

At it’s heart there is a tale of Erskin searching for her sister who has been taken by the cloud dragon after an earthquake disturbs the equilibrium between the village and the monsters beyond the wall.

But as we and Erskin find out there is far more to the story than that simple sentence.

In the end Erskine and her friends not only find her sister but find out a lot more secrets about the world they inhabit and the peril that they all face.

Written with a pace that pulls you through this gripping adventure whilst also describing the wonder in enough detail that you are amazed by the animals and scenery that you travel through, this is a book I really couldn’t put down.

There is also a deep story of what people can do to nature in the name of profit and progress and the ruin it can cause.

I really didn’t want this story to end and would love to see a return to this world in the future.

I especially loved the fish…


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

The Boy Who Grew Dragons

Andy Shepherd. Templar Publishing. (224p) ISBN 9781848126497

The Boy Who Grew Dragons

The Boy Who Grew Dragons

The Boy Who Grew Dragons had (shamefully) been on my TBR list for a long time, I initially got it to join in with #PrimarySchoolBookClub but in the end didn’t have the time to join in.

From the start of this wonderful book I was gripped and really wanted to know what happened and was disappointed that it was finished so quickly, Tomas is a bright, imaginative young boy and the other characters are all so full of life with the interactions feeling so real.

As the title suggests Tomas discovers a Dragon Fruit plant, but one with a difference. Dragons!

The addition of the sheer destructiveness of Flicker, especially the nice (squishy) addition to the poo part had me laugh out loud at a couple of points.

I am so looking forward to the books to follow the continuing misadventures of the crew, as the end of the book is something you have to read yourself.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Dragon Mountain

Katie & Kevin Tsang. Simon & Schuster Ltd. (336p) ISBN 9781471193071

Dragon Mountain

Dragon Mountain

I’ve loved Katie and Kevin’s Sam Wu series and was really looking forward to reading their foray into the fabulous Realm of Middle Grade and I wasn’t disappointed.

A fabulously fast-paced adventure including dragons, super powers, friendship, and an ancient evil, Dragon Mountain has it all!

I was gripped from the start when the main character Billy was introduced along with the rest of the main cast Charlotte, Dylan, Ling-fei, and ‘Old Gold’. It follows their adventures into the Dragon Realm to save us all from the Dragon of Death and the nox-wings.

There is a strong theme of cooperation and understanding others throughout the book, and having a group of main characters so that there is someone most readers can relate to (Dylan) is important.

Dragon Mountain has done a great job setting the series up, great heroes, dastardly villains, and a series of worlds to explore make me really want to read the follow up, Dragon Legend, now.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.