By Elaine S Moxon Katharine D’Souza is a Birmingham writer. Her novel ‘Park Life’ features locations in and around the south of the city, such as Moseley and Kings Heath, and charts the story about two very different people thrown into each other’s lives because they become neighbours. Katharine attends the PowWow writers’ group in Moseley and is involved in organising the PowWow LitFest - a festival for writers to be held in Moseley September 2013. In addition to her writing she works for a university, sings in a community choir, reads for a talking newspaper for the blind and enjoys theatre and cinema trips.
1) What inspired you to set your novel in Birmingham?
I came from London to Birmingham over twenty years ago and stayed because I like it so much. There’s loads going on. Everything is more accessible and cheaper than equivalents down south, plus the people are friendlier; it’s that in particular that sparked the train of thought, which ended as a novel. ‘Park Life’ is a celebration of the things I like most about Brum: the people, the independent businesses (especially the cafes!) and the parks. We like to throw facts around about Birmingham: second city, more canals than Venice, etc, but the fact I’m most fond of is that we have more parks than Paris - one reason why it’s nicer here!
2) Do you have a favourite landmark in Birmingham and why?
That’s a tough one. I’m fond of Old Joe, the University clock tower (tallest free standing clock tower in Europe, fact fans!). It caught my eye when I first came to Brum to see my brother graduate from Birmingham University and I see it on a daily basis. I love driving past Selly Manor; Brum has so many new buildings and I like the reminder that people were busy here even before the Tudor period, which is when the building dates from. If I have to pick a favourite it would be the new library. I know others disagree with me, but I think it looks great from the outside, although I reserve the right to change my mind if the inside turns out to be a disaster when they finally let us see it!
3) Are there any places you mention in 'Park Life' that are particular favourites in relation to the story?
Definitely the parks; Highgate Park is one of my favourites because it’s that little bit wilder than the others, although if I still lived in Moseley the ‘secret park’ would win. If my fictional café Tall Trees actually existed, I’d have to pick there. In its absence, I indulge my need to eat cake in many of the other great independent cafes we’re lucky to have.
Contact Katherine via Twitter @KatharineDS or visit her website to find out more: www.katharinedsouza.co.uk