A night with Kate Mosse


On Wednesday evening, Kate Mosse came to our Hawthorn shop to talk about her latest release, Citadel, a wonderful, spine-tingling story of a time when teenagers took the law into their own hands and fought back. The third book in her Labyrinth trilogy is set in the south of France in the 1940s, and chronicles a group of French female resistance fighters during the Second World War. Kate wrote this book, she said, because throughout history, so many women’s stories have been forgotten, written out or have simply vanished. Yet Kate has ensured this will not happen now, certainly not on her watch. She is the co-founder of the Orange Prize, now simply known as the Women’s Prize for Fiction (http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/).

Kate spoke at length about how the Prize started, explaining that there was no anger in the decision to create a literary prize for women, merely a sense of integrity and fairness. Now, of course, the Prize is acknowledged internationally and has changed the lives of so many, securing the careers of several female writers as well as having a profound impact on readers. Kate told us about a letter she received from a reader in Iraq, who looked out for the winner’s book last year. The letter-writer told the committee how important it was to read about other women and see other ways of living.

Kate also told us about the work being done by women in Canada to set up their own women’s literary prize, The Rosalind. She spoke encouragingly and with such grace to Louise Swinn and myself as members of the Stella Prize committee, and was so articulate about the principles of inclusion and equity, as well as how action in the end speaks volumes.

Chris Gordon is the Events Coordinator for Readings and is a committee member of The Stella Prize.