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‘From the outset Capote hooks us in with painstakingly precise detail that leaves no flake of old Kansas paint unnoticed. ‘

Katharine Quarmby spends a diary week researching and editing her first novel, a work of historical fiction inspired by a cruel act of punishment, and finds the process surprisingly familiar.

‘If I had ever experienced a tenth of what I write about I would have long ago been consigned to a padded cell, or be six feet under. I write to escape what I know.’