Interview with Catherine Macbeth, author of The Spirit of Silk

27 Jun 2018

What can you tell us about your new release, The Spirit of Silk?

I was inspired by a group of Chinese women who over a hundred years ago stood up against marriage especially when arranged marriages were the norm. Growing up in Malaysia I often watched Hong Kong -produced movies and often in family scenes there would be these ‘black and white’ domestic servants in the background. I didn’t realise until recently that they had actually rejected marriage to be independent. I admire these courageous women who refused to conform and I wanted to tell their story. I wanted to explore the issues surrounding such a stance. The Spirit of Silk is about one such lady working in British Malaya during the Emergency.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

As a girl I loved writing essays and reading, often carried away in Jane Austen and Agatha Christie’s books. Working as a Clinical Research Scientist my writing took the form of scientific papers until I retired. Then as a natural progression I opened my wings and flew into writing fiction which I love.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

This is a tough one and my taste is very eclectic but I would say

Han Su Yin’s Till Morning Comes

George Elliot’s Middlemarch                                                                                              

Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard

John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

John Milton.  In writing Paradise Lost and later Paradise Regained, did he hope/believe that he could persuade his readers to convert to his brand of Christianity?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

It has to be the research because I get to meet and talk to different people and find out interesting things.

What is a typical day like for you?

I start with a cup of coffee and straight on to my desk to write for as long as I can. Then it is off to play golf which I easily lose myself in. If I don’t meet friends I might read or do some gardening. I enjoy cooking especially baking. Then I vegetate in front of the television, often glued to Law & Order.

What scene in The Spirit of Silk was your favorite to write?

There are so many favourites -I have loved writing them all – but if I have to choose just one it would be the scene of the monsoon rain and rising water when James went out in his boat to rescue the locals culminating in gunshots heard. This is because I had a cameo role in it.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

Believe in yourself. Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.

Catherine Macbeth is the author of the new book The Spirit of Silk

Connect with Catherine:
Author Page

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