Profile Piece: Kirsty Capes
June 12th 2021
This May, our LoveMyReaders are falling over themselves to read debut novelist Kirsty Capes quickly enough.
Chosen by our guest curator Pandora Sykes this month, Careless is a stunning, heart-breaking and hopeful novel following the story of Bess – daughter to foster parents and sister to their biological daughter. When Bess discovers in the grimy toilet of a kebab shop that she’s pregnant, she finds herself with an enormous decision to make.
Snapped up by the makers of BBC One's Call The Midwife, this is a debut not to be missed.
I am absolutely thrilled that Careless has been chosen by Pandora Sykes to be included in the Love My Read curation this month.
Careless is a coming-of-age story that follows Bess, who is in foster care and pregnant. She doesn’t have anyone to talk to or support her, and must navigate this difficult and traumatic experience with only the help of her best friend Eshal, who is going through a life-altering event of her own. The book can be unsettling at points, but I think ultimately it is a story of the strength of female friendship, unconditional love found in the most unlikely places, and the overwhelming compulsion to hope, even in the darkest of times. I think this is a message that we all need, and can get behind, especially in light of the past year.
I grew up in foster care myself, and my main intention in writing Careless is to shine a light on the realities of growing up in the system. The care experience can be complex, re-traumatising and difficult. But we rarely see stories of care-experienced people that are aspirational and hopeful. While Bess has many difficulties – and it’s important not to shy away from those difficulties – she also has dreams, which she deserves to see realised. With Careless, I hope to create a new narrative of the care experience: one that is full of love and light and possibility. I hope too, that this book shows people who haven’t grown up in care an honest and accurate portrayal of what the system is really like for those who go through it.
I hope you love my fearless and feisty heroine Bess and take something away from her story. To write this book has been an incredibly emotional and cathartic experience for me, and I hope you find joy between its pages.
What type of person do you hope reads your book?
I would like to think that any type of person might enjoy Careless and take something new away from it once they have read it. But I think that women, especially, might recognise some of the angst of their own adolescences in the characters. To be a teenage girl is a truly unique experience, and I have tried to capture that experience in Bess’s narration as honestly as I can, in all of its rawness and complexity and beauty.
What's the most unexpected thing you learnt while writing the book?
I think the most unexpected thing I learnt was my own capacity to persevere. There were so many times that I thought that this book would never be finished, or that I wasn’t telling the story that I wanted to. Before Careless, I had never worked so long and so hard on a single project, and I am really proud of the result of all that work.
I also learned a lot about nineties popular culture while writing! The book is set between 1998 and 2000, so I have lots of useless knowledge about the music, films, and current affairs of those years, as well as things like millennium conspiracy theories, when different brands were established, and what models of Nokia phones were released. Only a fraction of my research went into the final book, but it’s all still in my brain.
What's your favourite first line in literature?
Perhaps one of the most famous first lines of all, and an obvious choice, but I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' Austen was a master of irony, and I love the dry, derisive wit that is hidden just beneath the surface of this opening line.
I am a bit obsessed with space and I adore The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams’s opening line is a classic: ‘Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.’ At every turn in his masterpiece, Adams reminds us of the sheer majesty of the universe, and the insignificance of us humans within it. I really love that about his work.
Is there one book you wished you'd written? Why?
I would love to have written The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Her writing is so deeply evocative, and emotionally honest. The reader can see, on every page, the lengths she has gone to – what she has wrenched out of herself – to produce the work, and to get to the emotional heart of the story. She was always striving to deliver her own deepest truth in her writing, and that’s what I am trying to find in my own work.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on my second novel, another coming-of-age story but one that feels very different to Careless. Even so, there are also similarities, in that it is about finding your purpose and learning to love yourself for who you are.
Intrigued? Grab your copy of the book with a subscription to LoveMyRead today!
Vicki & The LoveMyRead Team x