Born in north-west London, Katharine studied English and Drama at Bristol University because she wanted either to act or to write. In the end, she taught herself to touch-type on a 21st birthday-present, a portable type-writer, and wrote her first novel in a gap year following university. She then qualified as a teacher of English and Drama and spent a couple of years teaching in a Hertfordshire comprehensive school. Thus began a career in which her writing has been fed by a hugely diverse range of other activities, which have in turn been fuelled by her writing.
And this diversity is reflected in the lives and adventures of her characters. Evelyn Gifford, the heroine of The Crimson Rooms and its sequel, The Woman in the Picture, though born at the end of the nineteenth century, is a thoroughly modern woman in the way that her career and her domestic life collide – sometimes to the detriment, usually to the advantage of both. In writing these books, Katharine found herself immersed in a world in which Evelyn is deeply engaged both with personal relationships and professional crises. This, Katharine believes, is typical of the richness of experience enjoyed and bemoaned by many modern women.
In order to fund and inspire her writing habit, Katharine has had a job taking breakdown calls at the RAC, run a volunteer bureau, tutored writing skills with the Royal Literary Fund in the universities of Hertfordshire and Warwick, trained as a magistrate, and in turn written training courses for magistrates and has served on the Sentencing Council of England and Wales, and the Judicial Appointments Commission. She has run the Guardian Masterclass on Historical Fiction and written an e-book to complement that work. Even though she writes historical fiction, much of her writing is based on first hand experience: Confinement , for example, is a novel about life in a Victorian School and its modern counterpart; her knowledge of family life, of friendship, of working on committees and in court, all seep into Katharine’s understanding of how relationships work.
The past, for Katharine, provides a rich canvas. She loves to see vibrant characters emerge, particularly women whose historical role has often seemed, for the majority at least, one of domesticity and acquiescence. But above all she wants to share with readers her own lifelong love of stories and to create worlds in which they can be challenged, invigorated but above all deeply entertained.