Writing Insider – Kate Murdoch

Kate Murdoch discusses how her writing group helped her develop The Orange Grove.

Developing the work

What helped you along the way?

There are many things that have helped, but number one would be having a writing group at all stages of the process, to keep me accountable. Having a group helps you stick with a project because you know these friends are waiting to critique more of the work and you need something to show them! Group members encourage one another, give ideas for plot points and character development, and tell you where you’re going right and wrong. The writing community is so supportive. It’s been crucial to me creatively, professionally, and personally. It works both ways and has to be give and take.

How and when do you address the craft of the work?

A lot is instinctive, especially plotting. I’m an incurable pantser. For me, this provides the mystery and excitement in the process. Otherwise, I think it would feel quite dull and planned, which would mean I’d abandon the story. Character development and arcs are interesting because often I discover who a character is through their dialogue and internals. This in turn helps with plotting because the characters ‘tell’ me what they’d like to do next. So plotting and character development are close together and intertwined. Some voices emerge more easily than others and in my later drafts I need to enrich particular characters’ voices. My general writing voice is something that has evolved over time and I don’t need to think about it as much these days.

Who do you go to for help?

Along with a writing group, I have other writing friends who I trust to send drafts to, who I know will give a lot of attention to detail in their feedback. We do read swaps and it’s a joy to have these relationships. I have an assessor who has read each of my manuscripts right from the beginning and has always been incredibly helpful. My agent gives the final round of edits before we submit to publishers. And of course, if a project is picked up, editors will work with me to make structural and copyedits.


Kate Murdoch, Author

Kate Murdoch exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle, a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy, was released by Fireship Press in December 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel, The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Groveabout the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, was published by Regal House Publishing in November 2019. The Orange Grove was a Finalist in the Chaucer Awards 2019 for pre-1750’s Historical Fiction.


The Orange Grove, by Kate Murdoch
Historical Fiction. Regal Publishing House, 2019
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Blois, 1705. The château of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the Duc, lives at the château with her daughter. When the Duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality.

The Stone Circle, by Kate Murdoch
Historical Fiction. Fireship Press, 2018