Dr Catherine Blackledge is a writer whose career and interests span the worlds of science and the occult.
The Man Who Saw the Future tells the true story of England’s greatest ever astrologer William Lilly: how his celestial forecasts changed the course of the English Civil War, and the establishment’s attempts to silence him. Catherine’s first book, The Story of V, an internationally acclaimed cultural history of the vagina has been translated into ten languages. She has a science degree and PhD and has been a student of astrology for over a decade. Follow Catherine on twitter @cathblackledge
Watkins: Which books and author inspired you to get started writing?
Catherine: It’s the lack of a book or the lack of general knowledge about a person or subject that inspires me to get up and do something, to remedy the situation. William Lilly was the most famous man in England in the 17th century, capable of bringing the nation to a standstill. He’s an astrologer who changed the course of the English Civil War and British history, and yet he’s not widely known. I wanted to remedy that. Likewise with my first book The Story of V, which is a cultural history of the vagina. There are so many fascinating and intriguing facts and myths about the vagina that weren’t widely appreciated that I just had to write about it.
Favourite or inspirational books are ones full of mystery and wonder, they include: An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, The Deptford and Cornish Trilogies by Robertson Davies and I’m currently immersed, when I can, in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire; as a child I was mesmerised by C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Richard Adams’ Watership Down. I’m a scientist by background and I’m fascinated by the link between emotions and health. Marie Cardinal’s The Words to Say It has a special place in my heart; Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary is an extraordinary book.
W:What are your goals and intentions as a writer?
C: I’m fascinated by taboo topics, those that are shrouded in ignorance and prejudice; that’s why I was drawn to both the vagina and astrology, and within astrology the idea that you can predict the future. In my opinion, the focus of astrology is not about describing an individual’s psychology but it is about predicting what will happen in the future: a controversial idea within the astrological community. My goal as a writer is to tell a story, with my most recent book the life story of revolutionary astrologer William Lilly, but within this to unpick why we as a society hold certain views, and from this to find a new understanding of these perspectives. For example, the roots of why we sneer at astrology today lie within the 17th century and Lilly’s extraordinary success and mass popularity as an astrologer.
W:What empowers you in your daily work and life?
C: My family. My belief that I am finally doing what I’m meant to be doing. My sense of living within something that is greater than myself.
W:What is your next project?
C:I’m still intrigued by prediction, so who knows? Ha, ha.
W: Is there anything you would say to your readers?
C: Always ask why a certain view is held; nothing is ever as it seems. And don’t be afraid to do complete U-turns in life.