I have been lucky enough to get the chance to ask Kate Weston a few questions about her successful debut novel, Diary of a Confused Feminist, and her writing process. The book is a fantastic comedy about 15-year-old, Kat, who is just trying to learn the ropes of being a woman.
I loved how it doesn’t shy away from discussing anxiety and the female body. Anyone picking this book up is in for a great treat.
15-year-old Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.
But the path to true feminism is filled with mortifying incidents, muddling moments and Instagram hell. And it doesn’t help that Hot Josh is just, well, properly, distractingly hot.
And when everything at school starts to get a bit too much, Kat knows she’s lost her way, and the only way forward is to ask for help …
Hello, First of all, I just wanted to ask how are you doing?
I’m good thank you! I hope you are too.
I loved your book, Diary of a Confused Feminist. It’s funny and felt very real. What or who inspired you to write this book?
I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was a teenager and I wanted to write something that was funny and relatable to help young people feel like they can talk about their mental health openly, and hopefully help other people struggling to feel less alone.
I also wanted to write about the things that as a teenager I was always told you never talk about, like vaginas and menstruation. These are the things that should be talked about the most in my opinion. I also wanted to raise awareness around period poverty and issues around menstrual health.
Feminism is obviously such a big part of the novel, what made you choose to write about this particular topic?
I think there were a lot of times in my life where I was made to feel like I wasn’t intelligent enough or womanly enough to be a feminist and a few years ago it clicked for me that that’s not what feminism’s about. It’s about supporting each other, lifting each other up, and working towards equality. I wanted to make sure young people knew that, and that feminism is inclusive. Anyone can be a feminist.
The format of the book makes it a really easy read. Did you always have it planned out to be written as a diary?
Yes, I really wanted it to be Kat’s deepest darkest thoughts and I think the best place for those to be is in a diary. Although I imagine she would have to keep it very hidden from her little brother Freddie.
Going into this book, I only expected the comedic elements and I loved laughing as I read it. But to me Kat came across as a real person who had real problems. I particularly liked how you wrote about anxiety and depression, how it impacts everything including friendships. Was it difficult to get into that mindset?
A lot of the feelings that Kat experiences are ones that I’m quite used to feeling. I suffer from BPD which means that my mood can fluctuate quite a bit, and on days when things are trickier for me it was definitely easier to get into that mindset. Less so when I was having a good day, those are the days when I would focus on the comedy a bit more though.
I loved Kat’s personality a lot and particularly liked her close relationship with her family. Are any of the characters based on people you know?
No, everyone’s completely made up. I do have my own crew of amazing friends though and we definitely support each other in the way that Kat and her friends do. I’m very lucky in that respect. I absolutely loved creating Kat’s friends and family and then checking in with them every day. They all felt like my friends by the end.
What is your writing process? Do you plan out the entire plot first, or do you make it up as you go along?
Generally I’ll think of funny scenes or scenarios that I want to write and things will come from there. Something will make me laugh and I’ll progress it. I’ll plan a plot loosely and then by the end I’ve generally taken it off somewhere completely different.
I’ll never forget the day my fiancé went to work and came back to post-it notes everywhere – the cat was strutting around with one on his tail that said “menstrual rage.”
Writing a book can seem very daunting for many. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Just start. A friend of mine told me “You don’t have to start at the beginning, just start.” Start anywhere you like. And keep going. It’s very tempting to let self-doubt take over, but don’t. Take some time away, have a cup of tea and some cake and then come back to it.
Are you working on another book at the moment? If so are you able to say anything about it?
I’m currently working on Diary of a Confused Feminist 2! I can’t share the title or much else about it yet unfortunately, but it’s due to publish next year and I can’t wait for you to see what Kat and her friends get up to next!
Finally, I think a lot of people would be interested in knowing your opinion. If you had to choose, what Hogwarts house would Kat fit into?
Unfortunately – and I worry I’ll disappoint people here – I’ve never read Harry Potter. Oops! But I’d love to know which house you think she’d be and why!
What house do you think Kat would belong in? Comment below or Tweet/ Instagram on @bookwormgirl_24