Susan E. Kaberry and Beth Cox

Susan E. Kaberry

Didsbury People

An interview with journalist, Deborah Grace from 2015

Author, Sue Kaberry, on sex, lies and religious persecution in fourteenth-century France.

Where is home?

I’ve lived in Didsbury (south Manchester) for 20 years, but these days I spend as much time as I can in France.We started going there to see my youngest daughter and her family. Now she is living in Sri Lanka but we’re still going to France.

How long have you been writing?

I worked in the NHS for most of my working life, first as a nurse and a nurse tutor.Later, I became a university lecturer on counselling training courses.  My last role was as an analytic psychotherapist in the NHS.  I have had a number of work-related articles published over the years, but I started writing creatively when I retired more than ten years ago.

Is writing mostly pain or pleasure?

Pleasure; I love writing!

Tell me about your novel.

The Chatelaine of Montaillou is based on records kept in the Vatican archives for nearly 700 years. It is the story of a young woman, Beatrice, who is drawn into the intrigues that surround a local resurgence of the (heretic) Cathar faith.  She is arrested by the Inquisition, imprisoned and interrogated by the Bishop, Jacques Fournier. During the course of the interrogations, her remarkable life story is unfolded.  Two husbands, seven children and two priestly lovers … I won’t say any more!

Why does this subject interest you?

My daughter lived in the Languedoc region of France and I discovered this story on a visit to the Pyrenees. The records, kept in the Vatican, were translated and analysed by a French academic, Le Roy Ladurie. I felt the story was crying out to be told in a form that everyone could read and that it would make great historical fiction. Many of the themes, especially religious intolerance, are relevant today. Sadly, it seems that we still have a long way to go in finding ways to live peacefully together in the world.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

I was lucky enough to have the author, Jeanette Winterson, as a tutor when I was recently a student on the MA Creative Writing course at Manchester University.  Jeanette was always encouraging us to write what we wanted to write and helping us to find our own style.

Like many authors, today, you are self-published. What advice can you give others going down the same route?

Be very careful; there are plenty of people waiting to take money off you! Do your research before paying out.  I was fortunate to discover a publisher called FeedARead.com.  It is funded by the Arts Council and, as it is a print-on-demand set-up, you pay nothing.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Enjoy the moment and do the best you can.