by Margaret Chrystall
WHEN we speak, Kate Mosse has one of the best views any writer can have - looking out on the world from the summit of a newly-finished book.
Kate had just been writing the final words her readers will find at the end of The Taxidermist’s Daughter when it's published in mid-September.
"I’m in the mood for giving lots of interviews – it’s all fresh and exciting!" she laughed.
For Kate’s Inverness Book Festival event on Friday (tonight), early copies of the the gothic thriller – set in Kate’s home area of Sussex in 1912 at a rundown taxidermy museum – will be rushed north by her publisher for fans to snap up.
And since the success of her number one bestseller Labyrinth published in 2005, there are many millions of those across the world – reading in 37 languages.
Kate enjoys the hands-on approach of the Big Book Event that will be hosted at the book festival by Craig Melvin – and the chance to have fun with her fans.
She explained: "I did an event with him in Brighton, Christmas 2012, when my short stories The Mistletoe Bride was out.
"It was one of the most fun events I’ve ever done in my life.
"Lots of people were there, lots of book groups and it was just such a laugh.
"So when he said he wanted to do one in Inverness – but the publisher said ‘The book’s not out’ – I told them I’d love to.
"And I’ve always wanted to go to Inverness."
Places are a big deal to Kate, an OBE, instrumental in founding the fiction prize for women, with a career in publishing and four books out before she started Labyrinth.
Made into a TV series shown on Channel 4 starring John Hurt, Labyrinth – which has gone on to become become a trilogy with Sepulchre and Citadel – was inspired by the medieval town of Caracassonne in France’s Languedoc.
"The thing about The Taxidermist’s Daughter is people think it’s a big departure, but I quote the American writer Willa Cather at the beginning of the book ‘Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet’.
"That’s what I’ve always done with my French novels and now my English novels and short stories. The landscape is always the jumping off point for me.
"When I first went to Carcassonne, I just fell in love with a completely new landscape. And I had to be away from home to learn how to write.
"But now I’m a writer, I can write about home."
At her home where "the mums" – her mother in mother in law live – Kate reveals they are less than keen about having her newly-created taxidermy treasure, Connie the crow, in the kitchen.
"I knew I wouldn’t write my lead character properly without having learned how to do taxidermy, so put feelers out and found a wonderful young artist in taxidermy called Rose Robson.
"She was happy to give me a private lesson, but I was absolutely useless. Cack-handed, clumsy. I disembowelled my poor crow within about three minutes of being given the scalpel and it meant that everything stank to high heaven."
But having finished the book, Kate decided she’d like a piece of modern, ethical taxidermy and commissioned Rose who gave new life to a bird – Connie – found dead by a local road.
Now everyone coming to her house, Kate revealed, has to have a selfie taken with Connie!
Both blonde, English and with almost identical names, Kate Mosse the writer has sometimes been mixed up with Kate Moss the supermodel.
Kate laughed: "Truthfully, since Labyrinth, not so much, because obviously my name is spelt differently.
"But in the early days, quite often the BBC would send a car to take the other Kate to an appointment and the poor driver’s face was just a picture.
"I remember we had got a long way into arranging an interview before Labyrinth came out – when their PR said ‘And would Kate be prepared to talk about Pete Doherty?
"And now the thing that makes people giggle is that my agent in America is called George Lucas – like the Star Wars film director. So we sometimes have bookings in a New York restaurant for Kate Mosse and George Lucas and they are obviously doubly disappointed when we arrive!"
"There was a lovely cartoon in the Sunday Times when Citadel came out of the other Kate Moss getting into a taxi and the driver saying his wife’s favourite book was Labyrinth.
"My publishers bought me that cartoon!"
Kate Mosse’s Big Book Group comes to Inverness Book Festival at Eden Court tonight (Friday) at 8.30pm. For more details,: www.invernessbookfestival.co.uk