Katie Louise has packed so much into her life and in this interview, I found so much more about her that I never knew. She can take each of these questions and expand them out into whole books on things like how to survive a record-cold European winter and the frozenness of a traumatised parent and raise daughters who will go on to thrive and enjoy warm chats with their mum.
I hope you enjoy it!
Q: How did you survive backpacking in one of Europe’s coldest winters?
I had already backpacked in a European winter for four months with winter in the middle. There was no warm weather on either end. I knew the drill, turning up at youth hostels that are closed for winter, being stranded in snow drifts and doing lots of browsing in shops to keep warm. Of course, the youth hostels had jobs that I had never done before, so I learnt a lot. I remember at Holland Village being given the job of scouring every pot in the kitchen. A good life skill! Also of course, hostels are closed between 10 and 4, so the cold snowy streets were the second home if no touring was planned.
When I returned with another friend for a shorter trip, we mainly stayed in Great Britain as it was the coldest winter on record. 1981/82. The seas froze over around the British Isles. Back home, the relatives were worried. British rail and Euro rail were cancelled in most places. We were stranded in Cardiff for days. We lashed out on an air B&B; which advertised a shower in every room. Yes, it was in the corner but no other facilities. One still had to walk to a sink or toilet! However, we were safe and warm and away from the elements. When the weather permitted, we spent money on massages, facials and hairdressers as we could not travel too much further than the shops. On the better days, we walked to Cardiff Castle a few times and viewed Diana’s wedding dress and presents from all over the world. For obvious reasons, it is a castle I know well.
We had a lot of fun being stranded!
Q: Do you think you suffer trans-generational trauma as a result of your father being a POW in Changi?
My father was a wonderful man with a great sense of humour. Prior to World War 2, he was gunning around the north coast on his Harley Davidson. He went to war at 6’3” and 12 stone and came home at 6 stone.
He always said he was a guest of the Japanese government for four years in Changi as a POW.PTSD was not a term back then, but I believe he suffered that until his death at 92. All the men from WW2 were the same. They couldn’t tolerate noise and were particularly anxious about small children interfering with their now peaceful life.
In recent years I discovered a condition called ‘Transgenerational trauma.’ As soon as I read about it, I realized it was me to a tee. A parent for example has a perfectly happy normal life that is ripped apart by a major trauma. They are never really the same person again. Therefore, their parenting is affected and the children grow up with similar inhibitions or rebellion caused by the parents’ trauma and can be quite emotionally removed from what genetics would have been designated.
My father was cold until I was 17. All four of us were the same. He could not cope with children. Not once did my father kiss me EVER, hug me or bounce me on his knee in childhood. As a teenager, I was jealous of friends who were little Daddy’s girls. My friends were a bit scared of my father.
Subsequently, I believe every relationship with a man in my adult life has been affected by this. I was slightly scared of men in my youth and I had trouble being affectionate. I particularly struggled with expressing my emotions. I still do. The stiff upper lip and stoicism were drummed into me through his coldness in early years and I’m not so sure that was my destiny for my thinking.
Likewise, I believe that has changed me and affected my child-rearing to some degree. Perhaps I was sometimes too emotionally detached from their problems.
Q: What would you change about your youth?
My childhood was good. We moved around with Dad’s jobs and I lived in country towns when there was freedom. Freedom to ride a bike to friends’ farms, the freedom to ride their horses and actually have an accident without the threat of litigation and the freedom to walk safely at any time. I enjoyed learning from my three older siblings although I only lived with my brothers until the age of 11. Even Sunday school and church hold pleasant memories of social well-being.
However, when I left home, I was incredibly naive and immature. The strict upbringing and coldness thwarted my worldliness. I wouldn’t change too much but I cringe with embarrassment when I think of some of the things I did and said for years until maturity developed. Perhaps this prevented me from doing bigger things, but I am a bit lazy and that hasn’t changed, so I may not have enacted life decisions any differently.
One doesn’t grow as a person if they don’t feel some embarrassment towards their youth. I would have liked to change my reaction to things and be more empathetic at the time. However, I wouldn’t change anything to do with my adventures or achievements.
Q: Do you feel you fulfilled an adequate role when raising your daughters?
I never for a moment thought I was much of a role model or was doing an adequate job. They always came first, especially in future relationships but I always thought I wasn’t there enough for them emotionally or philosophically. I think the daily grind of working, fulfilling their activities and housework and my cold upbringing prevented me from being as close to them. However, through all their teenage years and disastrous access visits to China (A whole other backstory), they came out the other end with a Degree with no dabbling in drugs, moderate drinkers, non-smokers and no tattoos. Fast forward and they are now ensconced in very long-term relationships with children and are very happy. They contact me daily, so I must have done something right.
Q: Can you tell us about your latest book “Four Glass Bricks”?
Atticus, a music professor has not fared well in the extended Covid lockdowns. Julia his step-granddaughter emerges with fury because of the betrayal of her family and the secrets she has uncovered. When life returns to normal, they team together and set out to tackle their family problems. James is an enigmatic homeless man whom Julia befriends through Atticus’s voluntary work at a soup kitchen. Julia and Atticus assist him through his rehabilitation. He in turn becomes a pivotal presence in their lives.
Julia and Atticus’s adventures and mishaps are separate, but the emotional aftermath is shared intensely by both. Their enduring compassionate bond leads to an unexpected twist with the people they have encountered and brought together. The “ Four Glass Bricks” appear distorted throughout but herald a resounding crystal-clear view of the profound intricacies of all involved in the absorbing and surprising conclusion.
Thank you Kate, we look forward to your latest book!