Rachael King talks about finding her 'happy place' at the Marlborough Book Festival

Rachael King, left, speaks at the Marlborough Book Festival at the Blenheim Club, interviewed by master of ceremonies ...
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Rachael King, left, speaks at the Marlborough Book Festival at the Blenheim Club, interviewed by master of ceremonies Jane Forrester-Waghorn.

Nestled in a room of mismatched armchairs, taxidermy stags and a roaring fire, Rachael King observed it could almost be inside her book, Magpie Hall.

The book indulged the same macabre themes that run throughout her writing.

"I don't know why I love these things. People think I'm sick, probably," King said, from a red velvet armchair on the stage, under a garland of yellowed pages.

She shared the origins of her ideas and the research she wove into her three published works.

Under pressure to pitch a story idea for entry into her Masters in Creative Writing, King drew from her upcoming trip to her father's homeland, Ireland.

She discovered her "happy place" among skeletons and labelled jars at the Dublin Natural Museum, and began writing about an Edwardian butterfly collector.

After filling a notebook with plot ideas, she decided she was not making progress and shut her notebook in a drawer.

King proceeded to lose herself researching explorers, Brazil's rubber merchants, and the decadence of Manaus, where horses drank Champagne and dirty laundry was sent to Lisbon.

And suddenly The Sound of Butterflies took shape.

"Don't write the book you think you should be writing, write the book you want to read," King advised the riveted audience.

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 - The Marlborough Express

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