Kate Weston is the author of the novel Diary of a Confused Feminist. It tells the story of Kat Evans who tries to find out what being a ‘good feminist’ means, whilst also negotiating the perils of high school. Here at Women’s Writes we were so lucky to be able to interview Kate.
Hi Kate, thank you SO much for agreeing to do this! We cannot wait to hear your replies, both about your writing journey and just generally all things book related. Firstly, I have just found out that you were a stand up comedian! What made you transition to becoming an author, and has it helped you in your book writing adventure?
I was and still gig occasionally as I miss it terribly, but stand-up comedy is a very tough on your mental health and standing on stage night after night for people to judge you/tell you if you’re funny enough can take its toll. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a few years back and my relationship with comedy and performing became slightly difficult as I started to realise that in doing comedy I was very much trying to get other people to like me because I didn’t like myself, and that I was trying to find who I was by a process of whether other people approved of me or not.
Performing has certainly helped me on my writing adventure though, specifically with my subject matter. I was always amazed at the attitudes towards people when women talked about their vaginas and periods on stage compared to men talking about their penises. I was told so frequently that no one wanted to hear about ‘women’s business’ while men talked freely about willys, wanking and jizz. I wanted to level things up a bit, and contribute to the conversation, making it easier for everyone to talk about their genitals, no matter what gender they are!
Have you always wanted to be an author or has it been something that you have thought about a lot more recently?
I always had dreams of being an author but always believed I wasn’t clever enough to do it. When I first suggested this book to someone it was more of a ‘someone should write this book.’ And then they suggested I should be writing it myself. It was only through other people’s encouragement that I persevered with it. I still struggle to see myself as a proper author or as someone who deserves to be an author but I’m starting to get there!
What is your favourite (and least favourite) part of the writing process? I am so in awe of anybody who can sit down and have the stamina and perseverance to go through edit after edit!
I think my favourite part was probably after I handed in my first set of edits and I felt like it actually looked like a book. Apart from that though, I’ve learned that I love plotting, getting lots of coloured pens, big sheets of paper and post it notes, making something that looks like a crime investigation board, that’s really intense and intricate, and then writing something completely different. As if the planning and plotting never happened. I basically procrastinate in a very dramatic fashion.
Least favourite part is probably the bit right before your book goes to print and you know it’s the last time you look at it. That was quite scary!
Diary of a Confused Feminist is written in a slightly different format. What made you decide to use dates and times to break up the narrative instead of traditional chapters? (I really love how this works!)
I wanted to make sure that as many people related to Kat and felt close to her as possible, and I felt like doing it in a diary format helped people to feel like they’re really there, along for the ride with her.
The book states that Kat wants to be a “better feminist” but are there parts of the book that you could relate to when you were writing it?
SO MANY. I could write a list but I’ll stick to the basics. When I was a teenager I really wanted to be a feminist but:
- Worried that I kept shaving my legs and that was naughty
- Wore a lot of make up and worried that I’d get expelled from feminism by whoever was in charge. As if Mary Wollstonecraft would come back from the dead and haunt me for digging into the concealer.
- There were girls I didn’t get along with and I worried that if I was going to be a feminist all women had to like me and I had to like them. But that’s just impossible.
What made you proudly say, I AM A FEMINIST? It seems so hard in the current climate where feminism seems an almost dirty word!
I’m an intersectional feminist. It’s very important to make sure that the feminism we talk about now is intersectional. To me it’s not feminism if it isn’t open to and supporting everyone, and it’s certainly not feminism if it doesn’t include LGBTQA+ and trans people. I think it’s very important to constantly be learning and trying to do our best. I admit that I’d got complacent and I’ve learned a lot from Black Lives Matter, but I’ve still got so much more to learn. I know that I have to do better and I will do better. Feminism should be something to be proud of and something where we all support and lift each other up and everyone should have equal access to that.
And finally, what are the best reading conditions for yourself? (Mine are having a cup of tea and some dark chocolate while I am curled up in bed. Ideally, it will also be raining and cold outside which will make me feel even cosier).
A cup of tea definitely features in mine. I love lying on the sofa with my cat Angus and a book, usually he’s curled up around my feet somewhere. Another place I do a lot of reading is in the bath. I worry I may be a bath addict.
P.S. I could not let this opportunity pass. We have had a large debate here at Women’s Writes over the last few days. Do you use a bookmark or not?
I use a bookmark when I have one but when I don’t, I end up using a receipt, or whatever I have to hand. No corner folding over here though. RESPECT THE BOOK.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! We love your book, and we want everybody to read it! Best wishes, Women’s Writes.
Photo by Sophie Wilson.