REVIEW: I loved this book. My only regret is that it is not fiction. How one woman could endure the events Kathryn endured over such a short period of time is unfathomable. That she came out the other side with such positivity and such a strong eye to the future is downright inspirational.
Without spoiling the story, I can say that I laughed a lot and shed many tears on her behalf. I cringed at some of the decisions that were made, feeling as though I was one of her friends who wanted to scream, “No, don’t do that!” I found myself also taking great pride in Kathryn as I was able to watch her grow throughout the story into a confident and resilient woman.
Again, if she were a fictional character, I would have been rooting for her all the way. As a real human, it felt essential that she succeeded. And she did. Of course, none of this is possible without the strength of her writing. She avoided cliché’s and kept the story moving quickly with a flowing style that wasted no time, yet provided all the depth necessary to get hooked into her tale.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Chat with the Author
DAVE: Memoirs can be embarrassing for the author, as well as their family and friends. Did anyone try to talk you out of writing this book?
KATHRYN: At the time I began writing No Damage I was living in South Africa and had recently moved there alone to pursue my passion for working in shark conservation. As such, I was a long way from my old home and I didn’t talk to anyone about No Damage during the early stages of creating the book. It was a new and daunting venture for me and I had my own fears and embarrassments to deal with, so kept the project close to my heart and rarely spoke of it. It was only during the later stages, when I had gained my own confidence and dealt with putting my memories on paper, that I approached family and friends and explained exactly what it was I was creating. I wanted to be sure that my loved ones could raise concerns if they felt the need to do so and yet none of them did. I was lucky to have the support of my family and friends. Some people even encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and ‘hurry up’ because they were already fans of my blog and wanted to read more of my life story. Their anticipation was wonderful when I had writer’s block!
D: Who was the first person you have your manuscript to read? What were you feeling when you handed it over to them?
K: The first person who read my manuscript was my wonderful other half Nick. He proof read it to correct grammatical and spelling errors and also because I needed someone to let me know how the pacing and tone of the book came across to the reader. I was incredibly nervous when he read it; partly because the subject matter involved him and some difficult times in my life but also because I was concerned he may dislike the book and say ‘Kathryn you really can’t write’. I am a typical writer that has fears like we all do! In truth, he really enjoyed it and I watched him laugh and cry his way through No Damage with a proud look on his face. I am still delighted he enjoys my writing, as he is an avid reader and not one for wasting him time with poorly written books. He is also thankfully very honest and not one for telling me my work is good when it isn’t. I really couldn’t ask for more.
D: You clearly decided to make major changes to your life, as told in the book. I’m curious, did the book represent sort of a line of demarcation for you? For instance, by putting the story on paper, did it force you to make changes you may not otherwise have made?
K: Rather than it forcing me to make those major changes in my life, it forced me to shift my perspective about what had already happened in my life previously. By the time I started writing No Damage I had moved to South Africa and so had taken the leap into the unknown with my life in a practical sense. The fascinating part for me was that the writing process allowed me to reflect on the difficult times and alter my perspective to a more empowered and inspired outlook. It gave me the opportunity to heal, to recognize my part in creating all that had come to pass and it inspired me to keep moving forwards towards my goals. It was such a positive process in spite of my fears that dragging up the past would be both painful and perhaps a little pointless!
D: That makes sense. So, the next most logical question (sarcasm alert): Why the passion for sharks? And please talk about your current world tour for shark conservation.
K: Well I have had a huge passion for sharks since I was a child and took my brother’s shark book to school for Show and Tell in Kindergarten. I have always been fascinated by their grace and beauty and I like to support the underdog!
They are magnificent animals and yet deeply misunderstood and misrepresented by the media, which is such a shame. People either love or are fearful of sharks and I enjoy the challenge of helping people to change their perceptions towards that of respect for these animals rather than misplaced fear.
Many shark and ray species are now endangered thanks to us overfishing them for the shark fin soup trade (and other activities) and I am currently on a 10 month World Tour for Sharks. My partner and I set up a marine conservation cause called Friends for Sharks and we are traveling the globe providing shark conservation events for adults and children in each country we visit. Our lectures and shark art activities aim to inspire people to reconnect with the oceans and learn about why sharks are so vital for our oceans’ health and the fish stocks you and I rely upon.
We focus on positivity, storytelling and empowering people to make small changes to their lifestyle that will be of benefit to the oceans. There is too much bad news in the world and we aim to change that by focusing on what we CAN do rather than what has already been lost. We are also raising money for two charities throughout our tour; The Shark Trust and Project AWARE.
D: Will we be seeing another book from you?
K: Absolutely! This is just the beginning of the writing journey for me and I am determined to write more in the years to come. It is a huge passion of mine and a creative outlet that I want to develop and refine. At the moment I am focusing on building my author blog (with podcasts on writing and other useful information) at www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com and I will be writing an adventure travel book about the coming year of adventures with sharks. I am also about to start working on my first novel, so definitely watch this space and follow my blog for the latest news and events.
Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity. “A remarkable narrative. A fascinating book with an unpredictable end.” – Portland Book Review.