Interview with Photographer, Singer, and Writer Cath Barton

Cath frequently contributes writings to a blog you can follow (here)
Here are some pictures she has done for the above blog (here)
Cath Barton is an English writer, singer and photographer of Scottish
origin who lives in Wales. She mostly writes short fiction, and her
stories have been published in various places on-line, including The Pygmy Giant, Sparkbright Magazine and Short, Fast, and Deadly.  Her work is available in print in Fractured West and the anthologies 100 Stories for Queensland and Eighty Nine. Occasionally she pens a poem, and you can read these in The Camel Saloon, where you can also visit her exhibition of photographs of Wales.


Q. What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve always written, but it’s only in the last two years that I’ve
seriously applied myself to writing fiction. I joined a writers’ group
and that gave me the push I needed to started writing regularly. It’s
one of the ways I can express who I am.
Q. Where do you get the ideas for the people in your writings?
They somehow emerge from my dark and muddy subconscious mind! No,
seriously, sometimes they are real people (I change the names), other
times bits of myself I think.  Using random words is a wonderful way of
kicking off a story. They send you off at a tangent and, I think, help
you to get access to your subconscious.
Q. You are also a singer and a photographer. What is your favourite title?
This is a hard one, because I have lots.  Just now my favourite is “I
am the true vine”, a setting of words from the Song of Solomon by the
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. It’s a piece for choir, and I had the
chance to sing in it at a workshop recently. A couple of years ago Arvo
Pärt’s music was featured at a festival near to my home in South Wales,
and he attended. He seemed to be a very modest man.
Q. What is your favourite song to sing?
Again this changes. I’ll give you two of my current favourites. I
mostly sing classical music, and there is a really beautiful song by
Reynaldo Hahn called “A Chloris” which I love to sing. And in a
different style, Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes”.  Both love songs, as it
Q. Of the places you’ve visited which one did you enjoy the most?
travelled several times to the Sinai Desert in Egypt with an
organisation called The Makhad Trust which supports the Bedouin people
there. In the mountains of the High Sinai, in the area around St
Katherine’s Monastery, there are many gardens which have been cultivated
over hundreds of years by the Bedouin. For various reasons lots of the
gardens have fallen into disrepair, and the Makhad Trust is working with
the local people to get them back into cultivation, particularly by
restoring or improving the water supply.
I stayed in the Amran Garden there, which is a most beautiful place. We slept under the stars.
Q. Are there any places you wouldn’t return to?
A. There are places where I’ve had bad experiences, but that doesn’t mean I’d never go back there. So, short answer, no!
Q. You speak more than one language.  Which one was the hardest to learn?
When I came to live in Wales I decided I should try to learn some
Welsh, even though you barely hear it spoken in the part of the country
where I live. I thought that because I speak French and have some
aptitude for languages I wouldn’t find it too hard. But I did! It has an
entirely different root , the pronunciation is appallingly difficult
and you have to use mutations. Don’t ask!
Q. What is your favourite place to photograph?
A. The hills around Abergavenny, where I live.
Q. Do you read a lot?
I read spasmodically. If I get into a novel, I want to sit down and
read till it’s finished, but I do have other things to do! Having said
that, I don’t go a day without reading something, even if it’s only an
article in a newspaper.
Q. What are your favourite types of books to read and your favourite authors?
I like reading novels set during my lifetime, or at least no earlier
than the twentieth century. I like stories which explore the human
psyche. Favourite authors include Annie Proulx, Graham Greene, Ian
McEwan and Angela Carter. A British author I really recommend to people
is Jon McGregor –  he has three published novels, and there’s a new book
of his short stories just out. All excellent.
Q. Where is your favourite place to write?
A. At my desk, in my home.
Q. What hobbies do you have?
A. I walk, cycle, knit, dance. And watch cookery programmes on TV…
Q. If you could spend the day with someone who would it be?
A. A friend I foolishly lost touch with years ago.
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world you haven’t been where would you go?
A. Australia. I will go one day, because I have several friends and relatives who live there.
Q. What advice would you give to new and upcoming authors?
A.  Write, write, write.  Don’t wait until you feel like it. And join a writers’ group, for encouragement and support.

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