« Desert Island Discs

Kate Mosse, writer

2023-07-22 | 🔗
Kate Mosse OBE is a British novelist and broadcaster. She is the author of ten novels and short story collections, including The Joubert Family Chronicles and the best-selling Languedoc Trilogy. She has also written four works of non-fiction including her memoir about caring, An Extra Pair of Hands. In 1996 she co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Born in Chichester, she studied English at Oxford University and had a very successful career in publishing before writing her first book about pregnancy. Her novel, Labyrinth, published in 1995 and set in Carcasonne, became an international bestseller which enabled her to give up her publishing job and write full time. Kate lives in Chichester with her husband, Greg Mosse, and her mother-in-law, Grannie Rosie. She is a Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, a Patron of the Chichester Festival for Music, Dance and Speech, and President of the Festival of Chichester. She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to literature and women. DISC ONE: Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens DISC TWO: These Boots Are Made for Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra DISC THREE: Station to Station - David Bowie DISC FOUR: Walls Come Tumbling Down - The Style Council DISC FIVE: I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor DISC SIX: Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83. Composed by Maurice Ravel. Performed by Martha Argerich and London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado DISC SEVEN: Dancing Queen - Abba DISC EIGHT: La chanson des vieux amants - Jacques Brel BOOK CHOICE: Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot LUXURY ITEM: A jukebox CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83, composed by Maurice Ravel and performed by Martha Argerich and London Symphony Orchestra Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music, radio broadcasts, hallo unlearn event, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for right. reasons them it is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening. I my cousin. This week is the writer kate, most she's known
best selling historical novels, her two thousand and five breakthrough labyrinth. So five million copies was translated into thirty eight languages and made her ass. She puts it an overnight success at the age of forty five on the page. she's an adventurer taking her readers on epic quests interweaving, her lifelong loves of history and landscape. With page turning action she is, she says, nearly as intrepid is her heroines though she is on a lifelong quest. She's made her mission to champion women stories. She joining a successful publishing career when she cofounded the women's prize for fiction and she's been the driving force behind it for almost thirty years. She also rights forgotten women back into history through plays short stories unknown action like last year's warrior, queens and quiet revolutionaries, a dictionary of a thousand women who helped create the modern world and like every adventure, it always starts with a single step.
She says my most inspiring research comes from my feet. I will grounded Is that inspires me and dream about the book for months kate. Most welcome to this island. itself later we hear so, let's start with you in full flow kate into fantastic days. Writing what does that looked like it's very early stop when I'm researching I'm out and about- and I can do lots of other things, but when I'm actually writing, even though my books are mostly really long, I'm a sprinter. So I write as my mum used to predict christmas, will raining, and I start every day about us three for when the morning with its strong coffee with it, never weaned myself of sugar and it's that much If that can eliminate time of the day when you are in a house where everybody else is asleep, and you see the light coming up and you start to hear the first bird singing and that's the time for me, the the right so I would write from well until I'm needed a start. Writing about help us three and I'm a kara, so that could be any
between eight and eleven billion, whenever law for my mother, nor now on previously for my wonderful dad and oversee before that for children, no, but they're, more predictable. Funny silhouette. Tell me a little bit more by this research on foot, then eve described, exploring a place on foot as inviting the spring of the landscape. I love that you so it starts with. place, telling you stories yet always I mean I grew up in sussex and I've had a long love affair with cock hassan in the south west of france and more recently with amsterdam. And with the canary islands, and it's that there are some places I love, but they silent to me. There's no story there and then other places, it's as if, when you walk him on the path that sense of all the people that the path before you and all the people, the book the path long after you're gone. But then there
It's that idea that it is like a whispering it is, is like wind, it's like come there's a story here, phew kate- and it's always that conjunction of landscape history and mystery and place in the idea that this story can only be told and set here it's time to get started on your music kate, eight tracks to take to the island what he first choice today morning has broken sung by cat stevens, and I I am absolutely sure that this is my earliest actual memory, which is my not one that I've been told by my parents or teachers, and I can remember very clearly, standing in the school haulage infant school in a small some address, like you did in those days and white, knee length, socks and those black mary, jane shoes, or maybe they were blue. I can't remember and singing that him in assembly I It because that is still how I feel when I wake up in the moon,
Whatever happened, whether you in good times bad times, your feeling, sad about things or thrilled about things that moment when you just look out and there the trees I've always been there and the grass is there, and you do here the first blackbird singing am. I still have that sense of a pretty amazing wild. No has brought to yes the. these graceful brings fresh youssef cat Stevens and morning is broken. So
aids. You were born in chichester, nineteen sixty one, the eldest of three sisters to which it in Bob and you say it's the childhood you might have read about in nineteen sixties books house. So they were those parents, they would just wonderful and my dad went to the office. He was a lawyer and he was home accord plus five every day and we all sat down on us five and talk, the day and had supper and soon picturing the parents. From the tiger who came to take the yes vote, you pay my most that girl, because I was the eldest and then my sister's very close together. There was never any doubt that the thing that mattered was a little family unit and when I was much older, I discovered. You know that my marred had some really bad experiences with pregnancy and I had been kneeling on the way of other children, haven't made it doable and very, very, very prematurely, and the only reason I made it was because my mom started it
started go wrong when she was in hospital. Not only was that traumatic, of course, for my poor mamma, but it was also why my dad, who was very traditional english gent, but at the same time He was completely hands on in a way that fathers ones where he was that, would you a boy he was cold and he helped me first because my mom was unconscious for him being present at the birth very unusual very, very unusual, but it meant that the first five days of my life, it was touch and go for both my ma and for me that was my dad and, of course it made sense, because I would everybody's fathers did all of these things. He changed nappies. We did everything together. He was like a much more modern father and, of course, as I got older, I realise that a lot of my friends that their fathers really have very little to do with them and they certainly didn't do anything.
mastic things, but for my dad on my mom, there was not made it and I think, that's part of it. I felt all of my knife unconditionally loved case it's time for a second piece of music today, disk number two. What do we got here next and wisely chosen? This is some by nazi Sinatra: a cold. These boots are made for king now, my parents had an old fashioned wooden turntable in the sitting room and they didn't have a lot of records that had a few beetles records. I had a few classical record and they had
this one album boots by Nancy Sinatra and my ma had a pair of lakes blimey in a mini mini skirts, but she at the same time could pull that off in a way that I have never been able to and she loved this song, and so did my dad and, of course, when I've looked at some of the videos, I thought- oh, my god, it's very much of his age, but at the same time it's just that brilliant introduction and then the way it does kind of clocks down and it starts the boot stopped click and it is without in the course of women's empowerment song. It's like you know what you ve been making about. All of the one you ve been a message when you shouldn't have been a method and my mom would put it on and my sisters- and I would just per hour in the sitting room to it doing terrible in a pan people, dogs, you been a method where
and now someone else is getting to know your best. These boots on a balk and then the fun of the day. The boots are gonna, walk all over you, nancy Sinatra and these boots were made for walking so Kate's life at school. How was that for you? I liked school. I was that annoying child that sat at the front and whose arm was always permanently up in the air. So will you tell the class that I know I was I've worked hard. It wasn't that I was the top of the class actually bought it
his work and I loved doing a project like you know, even coloring. In round the outside. You know I liked all of that sort of stuff, and I went to a very big, comprehensive school and there were two thousand girls and there was some really cool girls and there were some very sporty girls and there were some. You know, and I was just kind for you. I was kind of a quite geeky girl. I did a lot of music and but see what added value on the piano, but I would go in early so as to avoid being in a court by the cool girls and go home late to voice ping court by the call girls who had now been joined by cool boyfriend, equity hanging around the bus station. Nobody fitting everybody thinks that dead one and that is different, but nobody quite knows who they are, and it takes you a while to discover that actually, all the people that are doing all of these things and smiling the most since even the most popular may be aren't very happy with that either, and I think it's just.
It was a slow time. The seventys and it gave me time just quietly, grow up and find out who I was its time via third disk cates. What you want to take with you to the island next station to station by David by reading, the title track. I think all young people spend a lot of time in their bedrooms. Teens imagining a meal big world. watching emotions that you'd have never really felt worlds that you really can't possibly imagine and- and you sing along to these words and that they mean nothing really. But you know the words but David Bowe, who was a very constant presence, all the way through my teenage years. And station to station. In particular, I can remember I used to put it every morning and it was winter and I dont know what year it was. Maybe I was sixteen may be. I was fifteen and that very slow, build up as you The train just rattling along is not actually a train, of course,
then building up to the introduction of the character. Now I didn't know any of this at the time. But of course now I know concept help him the idea of taking a persona, the thing about both I would say is that he just was a genius in that sort of way and it's what I think music and plays and theatre, obviously novels, and everything can do, which is create an entire world and, of course, ten minutes long, and it was exactly the amount of time that I would put it on my bedroom that it took me to get my school uniform on get my bag sorted when they travel initrd down oh boy,
the David Lee station to station so after school, you spent a year in london tempting before going to oxford university to study english and you the first two new family to have that kind of education. Did it live up to expectations? I loved it and I've never been to oxford. Until I went to have my interview, it was just an image from you and all of those films and books and and stuff like that, but I just it always wanted to go there and my lovely doubt when you took me out for the interview
and he just said remember: he said if you walk around looking as if you belong here, people will think you do. I was brilliant piece of advice, rice, The thing that I learned when I got there was the church. What matters is that we supported and that your loved- that's it if you have that Then you can give anything ago and if it doesn't work out, you can do something else. Is the great samuel beckett for which is always misquoted, but the bit that's missing is the bit that matters and its try again fail again never mind fail better and a few. How you feel supported by your family, then you can give we think ago, because you know that if it doesn't work out, then you'll do something else, and that will also be fine following you see, went into publishing what was the ambition most by no ambition at all. Everything that I've done has been some.
things come along and I've taken advantage of it or not, rather than having a plan so because I had tempting in london in those days. That's what happened if you are a girl a young woman. You did a secretarial course and people went and had secretaries in the way that there isn't that kind of entry route any more, and I had tempt in publishing companies before particular company called Hodder and Stoughton, and so I went back there when I finished because I didn't know what I wanted to do most of university. I was doing theater and discovering feminism, but neither of those seemed a plausible career choice as they offer. So I just went back to temping and went to temp at this same company, hodder and Stoughton and so but he's secretary was leaving and they said when I was there in reception. They said you want a job, so I said: okay, ok, yeah I'll, do it. I dunno know what I want to do yet and when it came to, discovering feminism was that in the classroom or outside of it, when I got to university, I discovered that they were groups of people sat and went in.
In my day, it was consciousness, raising group see all groups and that idea, zilch the people don't have equal opportunities, and I hadn't had that experience. Really as a girl growing up in the family that I had grown up in, so I started to become active in terms of just thinking about it know what it. What? What's the the other f word, while it's fair that's it it's about. Surely anybody whoever they are should be able to do what they feel that they can do. Regardless of what look like where they come from. Their parents are not without some stuff, and so for me, this became. A very important point of my university experience, and I went to green in common a lot because it was clear close by and took bought. It was first her mother, had taken part in marches in every time, the night marches and all of these things, and it just but- came a framework of how'd you what my parents always did witches
you, make a contribution. You try to expand opportunities for yourself and for everybody else, kate. We've got to make time for the music. What a fourth track. I loved the idea of music, in particular as a driver for change and a way of engaging, but you might not otherwise be engaged, and so the next choice is walls come tumbling down by the stall council, and this was very much part of protest music and I used to love the seventies protests, music and I loved the eighties protests music, and I think this song pull well as voice d c lee's voice, and that really I dared that you know change things in her. Stand up and be counted, don't be a bystander, and this is one of those epic banging note starts with that fantastic sort of hammond
Let them beginning brilliant, some, the style council and wolves come tumbling down. So that's your protest case and ninety. Ninety six, you are one of the founders of the women's prize for fiction, originally known as the orange prize still going strong twenty eight years later, but it didn't receive an entirely rapturous reception when it first started life. How do you remember that time when we that's it. We were getting in the end, it was millions of pounds of sponsorship. I thought everybody who loved amazing books would just think it was brilliant
genuinely. I was very naive. It didn't occur to me that it would be seen as a political act or an anti male act, no cause for me Feminism is about men and women. Together, we built the world. Together, we can change the world together, we can make the world fairer to get men and women together, but it was interpreted absolutely as an anti male thing and I gave my very first speech announcing this prize- was gonna happen. It was at the idea, a in london and honestly thought it was gonna. Be if the sprinkle painting that everybody was going to throw their hats in the air on a gear and a tweedy arm went up at the back of the hall I didn't know any journalists, then so I didn't know who this plus most a man was attached to the treaty of rome and he said all your life span, and that was the first question asked on record that the women's price- and I mean my answer was nowhere you and then everybody laughed, but it was it an indicator and then so for the next five months it was just permanent attack really, and there were two things: one moss
if women were any good that when the real prizes now, the only thing that you can do with that kind of comment is you need to have your facts straight, and the facts were very straightforward: that sixty per cent of novels published were authored by women. Seventy five percent of the was published, were bought by women. Yet fewer than nine percent of all has ever shortlist of literary prizes were women, so that was just a disconnect and the turning point was at the first award ceremony and I'm not Shy about going to introduce myself to people or you know doing all of those things, but irish murder came and it's the only time in my life that I have been too shy to go and introduce myself some. But I can remember thinking. Ok, iris murdoch is here and therefore everything that happened over the previous five months. I didn't care It's time, few fifth choice today, Kate, what's he gonna be well? Obviously I had to have a big ol feminist bank did not in the end. I have gone for
I will survive by glory Dana everybody, here's that piano does it. You know the arpeggio right beginning, everybody knows, and its from discos at school There could be nobody on the dance floor that starts and every single girl and lots of the lovely boys straight on the dance floor and of course it is like you know, you thought you'd do me down, I'm back now, I'm stronger than ever, and you single these lines, having no experience of love and also being betrayed or any of these things. But it's just one of those bangers and when I was doing my one woman show, I had a playlist a preset playlist in the wings and for the rest of my life. Now, whenever I hear Gloria,
I will be. Thinking of this is the moment that might microphone gets put on and I would stand in the wings every night and have a little do you think I'm glory again, and I will- survive so came lost your novel labyrinth published in two thousand and five and seven cock a zone was at best seller, its it shift grail quest set in the middle ages and in present day, france and it reached number one in the charts- something that I imagine
every right at dreams of you'd written for books already you have a sense that you had a hit on yarns before it came out. No, you don't I really believe that anybody who isn't your mom is going to read. It is that kind of thing and also been writing in my spare time essentially, and it can go. one for really long times. It was one of those things particular with our friends. In some people go. You know eight years on house and africa and cape grape, you can see they were thinking. She's been alluded to gain changes the paper back and it was being on the richard and judy show, and so I can remember very clearly. It was January was five o clock in the afternoon, and my daughter who I must have been ten as both as I said, durham mum, we're gonna watch it with you to think you need to class of. Why did you say? nicholas what the class for what we sat there on the floor, leaning on the sofa with television on holding hands
my son one side, my due to the other side, my husband was at work and we just sat there because they were young, but they understood that this was some thing. It was absolutely extraordinary that the power, If that show at that time the book went to number one the next day and it stayed there for six months, and it was that moment- and I will probably never have that moment again, but have had it once I've written better books, the labyrinth, but even now, when I'm traveling about always somebody will come up with a copy of book on tell me that they went there for the first time last year. All they were on honeymoon, and now I'm travelling all over the world to other countries. A meeting it is all over the world and I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts, and luckily, I've been able to carry on its time phoenix track case well I very much enjoy what I always think of the dreamy fantasy, heckler atmosphere of
late eighteen, eighty and ninety and nineteen tens and france was produced. Extremely amazing composers- and one of them of course, was to be seen I do but were val second panic concerto in g, the second movement, it's his love letter. The piano? I spent a lot of time in the last fifteen years with older people and p, at the end of their life, and this piece of music is one of those piece of music, which I kind of feel is. The sort of piece of music that, in the background, at the end of life, gentle pooh poignant, complete hmm the hmm
the the the The
part of this second movement from reveals. Second piano concerto in G major performed by marta augury, with the london symphony orchestra conducted by claudio abortive kate, one of your most recent books and extra pair. hans was about the years that you ve spent is a kara, firstly to your phone, and now to your mother in law known to everyone in chichester. I think as grannie rosy and, of course, what you ve done, love and its rewarding in it. It is a privilege to do that for some one, but it is incredibly tough, as many listeners will. Of course, no What made you sure you wanted to take that role on that an interesting way of asking it. I'm not sure that it ever felt It was a choice, it just seemed, Well, this is what needs to happen rather than a choice to do it and it was it thinks
mary thing because politically with my dad was very very close to my dad and very very close to my mom, my dad was a quiet man when he died. We had hundreds and hundreds of letters. Most of them using word. He was a real english gentleman and telling me things that they have done to them. The never heard of never boasted. He never talked about things. He just was a quiet revolution, my daddy, does good things very unassuming. He left me a list of the hymns had likened. I should like to look at the bottom, which still brings tears to my eyes. I think about he. Just put thank you had now, my ma she didn't want to About anything like that, of course, and and human, hello, grannie rosy. You ye, currently careful she's in a mid nineties, known as being grew up. Knowing her she's, even your husband, it all together and dated when you were very young. I wonder decision to write about carrying, because we don't here.
harris stories alot there are so many people out there who are in that rule. The reason I did it is precisely, as you say that carers are everywhere and invisible. A woman has a fifty fifty percent chance of being carried by the time she's. Fifty nine and a man it wasn't until there, maybe seventy five, which carrying organizations think probably means that husbands, careful wives and partners and women care for ever hear us and because its women it is the lowest paid of all these such tree benefits and without women. The whole of such care will collapse, and it matters because every government has promised to deal with this and has not, and so that was part of my decision, To this end, I obviously I have support my husband in my brother in law and also my sister's step My children are incredible in this area.
as well. So I'm not doing it on my own actual many people are. I would say that it gave me. with both my mom and my dad. I had to the conversations with them that I wouldn't have had otherwise and grow the ways he became a complete media star during lockdown she was absolute, brilliant. My daughter filmed her playing her piano out on the street for classier and clap for carries she would accompany and it went viral. It went viral and she was on all the shows was on good morning, britain the rain and all of these things and granny rosy has recorded her own funeral music and it will bring the house down hup her singing and playing wish me luck is to wait MC goodbye, Kate us take a minute for some music next track. What's it going to be well the next track, I so tried not to do this, but it would have just been dishonest for me not to choose apis, don't
increasing, because for me this is the ultimate multi generational women dancing in the kitchen song and from my fiftieth birthday party, it was the first one and some friends had got ahead in a hair brush ism we and hide those costumes, and we did the whole thing and my sixtieth, my daughter, organise this incredible night of my son, compared it and the first song again was dancing queen and there it was. I was dancing with my son and my daughter and grannie rosy, burning up the dance floor in her wheelchair she's, the dots important
other dancing queen with that not one to twenty rosy. I think so moss. You are visiting professor of contemporary fiction and creative writing at the university of chichester. Wonder what your best advice is to aspiring rights. As this is legibly attributed to because near the end of his life, didn't want said to him. You know why do you stay go to your studio every day, and he said
inspiration arrives, I wanted to find me working. That's the point you I don't always feel in the mood you don't always feel that the words are gonna come, but you go to your desk every day or you treat it seriously and often it's complete catastrophe. People forget if they saw any of our first draft compared to the books that are published, they'd be thrilled. You know, and everybody who wants to write. it's got time to write. You haven't got time to write that novel you're doing a million other things and you're working and traveling and caring and whatever it is. But you do have time to write the description of what steam looks like coming out of the kettle and if you do a tiny bit writing every day, so your muscles are ready for it. It means that take away the fear of the blank page, the blank screen, so that when you do have time to sit down and right that novel or that biography or that history you ready to go. I'm about to send you away to your own desert island how'd, you cope with
isolation. It's not straightforward is, is it? Would I be able to cope on my own? Yes, because I would get em that would I want to know if I couldn't have my son of my daughter, my husband and now my grandson and other family members and friends. They wouldn't be much point for me actually I would miss people and I would be lonely. So I do. I don't think I would enjoy being cast when on the island while you'll have your discs to keep become a world, and you can have one before we send you away what you're gonna be your final choice today. Well, my final choice, of course, has got to be one for my husband. We, he met at school when we were fifteen. We were together for a couple of years and then we went separate ways and then extraordinarily and truly we met on a train out of the blue, having had any contact with each other for eight years. I think, and it was very straightforward
had been right in the first place and we ve been together ever since We ve known each other now more than forty five years and gregg. He is still the boy who rewrote the lyrics to Elton John, your song when we sat by stream in fish, born where I grew up, that boy is present in the man when I was doing my tool drove half way across the country so that I could always come home on my day off so. The song is wonderful. A song by jacques. Well, national soon vs m, which is about two lovers that have been together for only twenty, is that their babies compared to us but the song is, of course we ve had all storms and of course we ve had this that in the other, but from the first light entered the day. I still love you. You know that I still not use this is for craig. That is all
me. The flower degree bug me the flows of police, This, we are. Those solemn bill is jack brown lessons on the view so kate most the time has come, I'm gonna send you away to the islands, I'm giving you the bible and the complete works of shakespeare, and I know this is gonna, be very tough, for you warn other work, what they do not yet know. Actually, oddly it isn't and ts Elliot's full quartet's has been a sequence of poems that have kept me company for all of my kind of grown up life. If you like it's a sequence of poems, that can be
I didn't any single way and mean a different thing at any moment, but I think that if was on my own, therefore, to have in some of them useful lines you know in my beginning is my end and you would slip side parish. Decay cannot stop strain they're, just so much beauty in the language and description in the language and thought and philosophy. and you know religion is not faith, and this is a poem of faith and, I think I would be in reflected mood- and I would be thinking of all all the things that happened in my life and would be very much looking out for the ship on the horizon rescue me, but for quartet's it is the perfect met, taken on what it means to be human. It's yours, you can also have a luxury item. What are you gonna take? I decided I would take the jukebox
wurlitzer? You can only have you re, disparate there's, no reason we can't stack them up into jukebox eggs around. It is a beautiful kind of mc. nicole magical, I and it's that pressing the button. You mentioned the letter and then you press the number and you watch it full down on. I would remember all the people not listened to the meat at the theatre of the duke box would be what I needed. I would feel that all those ghosts were there with me step and they would help people my island, and that is I would need, while the not is yours and finally, which one track of the eight that you share with us today. Kate, would you saved from the waves if you have to. even coming on the train it at this more risk undecided. But do you know in the end, I think probably I would choose the rival, because that sense of quietness, of completion in that piece of music,
the idea of the full stop. I think if I was on the island, I would be thinking you know. If I'm not getting off this island, I'm gonna just gently quietly fade away, and I think the revival would be that piece of music. Kate moss. Thank you very much for letting us here, you're desert island discs. Thank you. the hello, I hope the hates happy on our island playing without jukebox there more than two thousand programmes in our archive, which you can listen to, including many writers have been cast away as kate atkinson. Deborah levy and my angelou, you can find their programmes if you search
the BBC sands on. Our own desert island discs website studio manager for today's programme with Sarah hotly and the producer was Sarah Taylor. Next time my guest will be the actor stanley teaching jason humphrey. I thought I'd stay that way. We just wanted to tell you about new podcast for radio for a bbc sounds best man. It's called and it's all about one of the most important jobs a fellow can face in his lifetime being the best man. We were each other's best value for money,
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Transcript generated on 2023-07-25.