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Kate Gould

Kate Gould
Kate Gould (MA Gender, Literature, and Modernity 1999-2000) is an editor, writer, teacher, and reviewer. In 2009 she set up The Fine Line, an editorial consultancy and publisher. Its first title, The Pocketbook of Prompts: 52 Ideas for a Story, was published in December. Adapted from her dissertation on the subject, her book on flashers, Exposing Phallacy, is to be published by Zero Books.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a cowgirl riding the plains, or a doctor fixing people. Then I realised I wasn’t exactly a great rider, there aren’t many plains to ride in Scotland, I didn’t have a horse, I was pretty hopeless at science, and the reality of being a doctor was nothing like bandaging teddies or dressing my brothers as nurses.

What was the best careers advice you were given?
Never having had any advice on careers or running a business, I asked my entrepreneur great aunt if she had any. She said, “Do the things no one else wants to do. At the end of every job description, add: “And anything else that needs to be done”. When you have finished a job, a letter, an illustration, a speech – whatever task you are working on – instead of asking “Will this do?”, ask “What will this do?” Will it accomplish what I want it to accomplish? Will it annoy? Incite? Encourage? Motivate? And treat everyone, from the parking attendant to the president, with the same respect.” I think I manage to incorporate most of that into what I do.

Describe yourself in three words
Funny, determined, kind.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?
While most writers are pleased to get feedback, I do get the occasional diva response, no matter how constructive or considerate my comments. It’s only via email, though. Coming up with ideas and material – like the creative writing course, The Perfect Word, articles about writing and writers, and the writing prompts for the book – is a challenge, but it’s an exciting and interesting one so it never really feels like work.

What are the most rewarding parts of your job?

It’s rewarding seeing writers I’ve worked with getting published and winning competitions or just becoming better writers. I’ve made some good friends amongst them, too. I start off as their editor and become their confidante, muse, agony aunt – whichever role they want me to fulfil.

What have you done that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of the company that I’m building up and of the fact that, instead of staying in the safe, boring job I had with a creep of a boss, I decided to set up on my own. Also, it makes me proud when writers tell me I’ve kept them going when they might have just given up. On my last visit to the vet, it made me feel very proud to be told I was the best rat owner he’d ever known.

What drives you?
Impatience, curiosity, the excitement of new projects, an aversion to boredom, coming up with ideas to keep The Fine Line fresh and exploring new directions to take it in, the buzz of working with good writers and seeing their work on the shelves and winning competitions, and the need to pay the vet bills for the rather expensive pet rats I keep buying.

What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?

The ability to click my fingers and instantly sort out anything instead of having to wait for other people to do so.

What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?
My bed, sunblock, and Matthew McConaughey. I realise he’s not an object, but he’s so pretty I could have him purely for ornamental purposes. I’d like to take my rats, too, but I don’t think a desert island would be a very nice place for them to live.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
The Fine Line has just launched as an independent publisher, so I hope to have built on that and our involvement with educational resources and talking books for the blind. I have a book on cowgirls that I’ve been working on for a while and, sometime between now and a decade away, I’d like to have spent a while travelling all over the States, living the life of a cowgirl, publishing their remarkable tales. They’re astounding women. Also, I’m intrigued by the Middle East, either to write about or just for travel, so I’m planning to spend some time there when I’ve found a good travelling companion. A friend and I have been talking, forever, about writing novels for Mills & Boon so, if we ever get round to it, maybe I’ll be a queen of romance writing.

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who tried, wherever possible, to make things fun.

What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?
A lot of laughter. A trip to Venice in winter when it was eerie and freezing – we laughed for a week just to keep warm. Sitting in a friend’s room drinking “designer gin”, as we called Tesco value gin. God knows what it had in it, but it made us find everything funny. I had Germaine Greer as a supervisor for my dissertation on flashers so I had some fun meetings with her, usually talking about everything but the dissertation.

Do you have any advice for new graduates and undergraduates?
I would encourage undergraduates to have the courage to come up with their own ideas instead of reiterating what lecturers and textbooks say – a Freudian or Marxist analysis isn’t the answer to everything. New graduates I’d advise to spend time deciding what sort of life they want to have, whatever it may be. Get married and have kids, start an online business selling horse bling, run a rat sanctuary, have ill-advised affairs in faraway places – do whatever you want. Even if you have to spend a while without much money, it’s worth it to create a life that makes you happy instead of dying of boredom in some job you hate because you did what you thought you were supposed to.

Kate Gould: the facts
Career Lacking a plan, as such, it’s meandered through editor, book critic, columnist, slush pile reader, writing competition judge, hotel critic, magazine editor, English teacher, and research assistant to Shere Hite and Germaine Greer to where I am now, Chief Editorial Consultant at The Fine Line, writer, and reviewer.
Education BBA Journalism 1996-99, Edinburgh Napier University
Diploma in Documentary Filmmaking 1998, Windesheim University, Zwolle, Holland
MA Gender, Literature, and Modernity 1999-2000, University of Warwick
Interests Rats, Beethoven, reading, Helen of Troy, flowers.



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