This is one of the photos shown by Katherine at a talk she gave to some Year 7 pupils at Oxford High School on Friday - her study at All Soul's, with a tightrope in the foreground. Inspired by Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the twin towers in 1974, she tried to teach herself to walk the tightrope as a child and broke so many bones her parents finally sent her to tightrope classes. She gets up very early to write, and starts the day by walking the tightrope because it wakes you up: 'It makes your blood tingle,' she says...Which makes my going for a walk with the dog every morning seem very tame! 'I've always wanted to be up high,' she said.
She started writing her first book, Girl Savage, the day after her 21st birthday - 'What could be easier than writing about your pet monkey?' Also at 21, she won a fellowship at All Soul's in Oxford - 'Everyone there is about 70; their moustaches trail in the wine.' One of the fellows told her that there is a secret way up on to the roof, and so at night she escaped up there - 'At 2am you are the only person awake. It's the closest you feel to being magic.' Her second book, Rooftoppers, is partly inspired by those night-time outings and is about a child who sets out to find her mother: 'Mothers are maybe the best thing in the world.'
Katherine told the girls her rules for being a writer:
Comments from the girls:
Rooftoppers has been shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize!