Writers In Isolation: Katherine Mezzacappa #Isolation #Writers #Authors#Historical #Fiction

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How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Katherine Mezzacappa coping with this enforced isolation?

At time of writing, lockdown here in Italy is easing, but I am still wary of emerging into the sunlight. To begin with, it wasn’t isolation per se that was difficult to cope with from a creative point of view, but the fear of all the unknowns around the pandemic – I’ve got a little better at living with them. I had the advantage of having worked from home for years so I was used to not having the routines of a commute and a shared office. However, my job is paused at the moment until later in the year, which meant I had to think about how best to use that time. Time is what writers often complain they don’t have enough of, but when you’re suddenly faced with lots of it, the prospect is daunting, and you feel guilty if you don’t take advantage. I know from my writing network that I’m far from alone in feeling that. I had final edits to do on two books, The Gypsy Bride (Katie Hutton) and The Casanova Papers(Kate Zarrelli) so having the space for them was a boon, though revisiting a book set in Venice when I could see that city on webcams, silent and shuttered, was also heart-breaking. Writing did pick up though, as well as other ‘writery’ activities. I’ve co-presented at a virtual litfest with an old friend from MA days, though we’re thousands of miles apart. I am now an assessor for a writing consultancy and a proofreader for a new Italian publisher. Writing predominantly historical fiction is an advantage in lockdown, as the writer must perforce go in her head into a vanished world, and the less interference from the modern one there is, the better (provided that for research purposes, Google works, and ABEbooks still deliver!). Frustration as a writer lies in not being able to do field visits for future projects – a first world problem, and those places will be waiting for me afterwards. The virtual company of other writers has become more important than ever before. There have been some stellar online opportunities, like the Society of Authors workshops, and the Arvon at Home readings. I hope these persist alongside conventional offerings once the pandemic has passed, as they represent real accessibility and democratisation of the business of writing.

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction now living in Italy. She also writes as Katie Hutton and as Kate Zarrelli.

Her début historical novel as Katie Hutton, The Gypsy Bride, was published May 2020 on Kindle and Audible by Zaffre Books, with the paperback to follow in June.

A sequel, The Gypsy’s Daughter, is in preparation for June 2021. As Kate Zarrelli, writing for eXtasy Books, she is the author of Tuscan Enchantment (2019) and The Casanova Papers (June 2020). Her short fiction (as Katherine Mezzacappa) has appeared in Ireland’s Own, Erotic Review Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Turnpike, Asymmetry and in anthologies with the Bedford International Writing Competition, Henshaw Press and Severance Publications. She’s a member of the Irish Writers Centre, the Irish Writers Union, the Society of Authors, the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists Association. She was awarded a Cill Rialaig residency by the Irish Writers Centre in 2019 for the writing of a Renaissance novel, Giulia of the Albizzi. Katherine regularly reviews for the Historical Novel Society. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Canterbury Christ Church University in addition to an MLitt in Eng Lit from Durham and a first degree in History of Art from UEA.

You are never alone with a book; that’s as true now as it was when I was a lonely teenager. Historical fiction allows us to escape into a different world, and without being preachy about it, can help us realise that we’ve been through terrible times before without the advances in healthcare and communication that aid us now. I do not believe that writers of historical fiction should offer nostalgia to their readers – more perhaps a realisation that human beings are often more resilient than they realise.

Author Links:

 @katmezzacappa
 @KatieHuttonAut1

Thank you so much to Katherine for being my guest. It is interesting to hear her thoughts from a historical fiction perspective.

It’s been wonderful featuring such a variety of authors and bloggers in this series. All have shared such interesting and perceptive thoughts on lockdown and isolation for writers.

We truly are living in history at the moment. No doubt future generations will reflect on this time period in their studies to come.

I have to agree with Katherine, the human race will find a solution. It will take time but we will get there.

For now, this is the last in this series. Thank you to all that have taken part. I am currently working on my COVID19 diaries, flash fiction and poetry collection which I hope to release soon. And I will also be finalising my YA fantasy The Curse of Time #2 Golden Healer.

More about that soon.

Please comment below, I’m sure Katherine would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well.

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13 thoughts on “Writers In Isolation: Katherine Mezzacappa #Isolation #Writers #Authors#Historical #Fiction

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  1. Thank you Prashant. Thank you for reading and stay safe in these challenging times.

  2. I think a lot of us find ourselves writing historical fiction these days. Unless you want to revise your WIP to account for shelter-in-place protocols, you have to set it before 2020.

    1. Agree! There are certain things I avoid writing about simply because I think they’re too ‘big’ and attempting to do so would be cheek on my part. I can, I think, still write about the aftermath. So I tend to avoid WWI and WWII, and the Irish Famine, but find enough fertile material in how people – survivors in effect – manage to get on with their lives afterwards. I’ve never written anything dystopian anyway, and that’s what this time feels like.

  3. It’s good to hear what other writers are doing and how they feel under the Covid situation. Thank you, Katherine. I heard about some feeling depressed with the isolation and not motivated to write, and some don’t get bothered by it and make good use of the time. Thank you for sharing.

    Thank you, Marje, to have Katherine here!

    1. Thanks Miriam. Yes, we all cope differently during a crisis. My way to cope is to stay super busy and try to take my mind off everything. It’s such a difficult time and so easy to get depressed, if not careful. Take care. x

      1. Your welcome, Marje. I make to-do list as long as I can remember, especially during this time, and it feels good to check off the finished items. I also try to alternate mental and physical activities throughout the day. The gardening helps a little bit. Yes, take care!💖

    2. Thank you, Miriam, for your kind comment. I am wondering now what we will make of this time when it is over, when it is history. On one level I am too angry about how it has been mismanaged by those who should be in charge to write anything coherent about it, and on the other I wonder if it will be one of those big things from history that I will steer away from as being too much for me to handle. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write about WW2 or the Irish Famine, for instance, though I can I think find something to say about how people cope with the aftermath of terrible events (I’m writing about the post-war years at the moment). Keep safe and well, Miriam, wherever you are.

      1. Hi Katherine, there are perspectives from so many walks of life. In our local paper earlier, I read a lot about how people are reaching out to people with basic needs. I got quite a few calls to ask how I was doing and if I needed help going to the grocery stores. My daughter said her friend made some masks and gave them a few, even made one for my two and a half granddaughter. When her friends go to the store, they call to see if she needed anything. By the way, she had a new baby two months ago. Her husband goes shopping. She hasn’t gone to any store yet.
        I only started on April 9, tracking the number of cases and deaths both in the world and in the US. I’m afraid it’s getting out of hand right now. I don’t watch news anymore. I have CNN and LA Times coming to my inbox. For me and my circle of family and friends, we just do our part to stay safe.

        The scenes we see with our eyes could only thought of as in Sci-fi. Many people started writing something the way they see it. It would be too overwhelming to capture the essence of the scope right now. I’m in southern California! UK was from #8 on April 9 to #4 yesterday, but it’s because Spain, Italy, and Germany are doing better to reduce cases and deaths. Stay safe, Katherine.

      2. Miriam, it is hard to believe all that is going on with this virus. Every now and then I read the latest news, and find it all so overwhelming. There are so many sad stories. I wish it would end, so we can all go back to ‘normal’ with a better sense of what the new normal should be. Hopefully after this is over we will all appreciate and care for each other and the environment more. Take care, Miriam and Katherine.

      3. Hello Miriam, hello Marjorie,
        I wholeheartedly second Marjorie’s plea that afterwards we do care more for the environment and for each other. Your news, Miriam that people are reaching out to those who are in need, and that example of going to the trouble of making masks including for your little grand-daughter (how, on earth, do we explain a crisis like this to a little child?) gives us hope for the future. I hope that kindness goes on when all is back to ‘normal’, but that ‘normal’ also means a greater understanding of how we hold this planet in trust, to keep it safe for our children and grandchildren and everyone else’s children and grandchildren. I agree that it’s a bit of a balancing act to keep abreast of the news whilst not allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by it (something which reduces me to incoherent rage at those who are meant to be leading us). Things are much, much better in Italy than they were, and I have been impressed not just by the marvellous health care service, but also by some (not all!) politicians local and national who seem to have risen to the occasion and given a best of themselves I didn’t know they had. Thankfully, we are in a much better place than we would have been 20 years ago to deal with this, and not only in terms of medical interventions. We are better connected virtually, and though this means we can be both bombarded and overwhelmed by news true and false, it also means that we can maintain friendship and support. I had a three hour zoom call with six writers in Ireland I was on a residency with last year. This was incredibly nurturing. We have to grasp these opportunities. Wishing you both a restorative weekend with those whom you love and who love you. Katherine

      4. Hi Katherine, thank you for your lovely message. Yes it is indeed a balancing act. And I am so grateful for the means to stay in touch with family, friends and the writing community. I am so glad to hear things are improving in Italy. I’m not convinced that we are there yet in the UK. I fear there may be a second wave. I hope my fears don’t come to fruition. Stay safe and well Katherine and Miriam and enjoy your weekend. x

      5. Yes, it’s so true, Marje. I hear so much from people having the same sentiment of what they learn from this virus, and they’ll appreciate and care for each other and what we have that we might have taken for granted. Take care, Marje and Katherine.

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