Before we start, how have you and your loved ones been during this COVID-19 time?
Thank you, Carissa, for another chance to connect with readers and writers of Romance, especially in this time of COVID-19! Reading is a huge part of how everyone in our house is coping! I rely on old favorites like Austen and Heyer, new authors like Uzma Jalaluddin, and the posts and emails of many friends. The online Sanditon Sisterhood remains quite active. We crave our Season Two. The youngest member of our busy COVID household, our grandson Andrew turns to his favorite genre—construction books. If you don’t know, “Mighty, Mighty Construction Site” and all its variations, check it out! We bake; we garden; we walk; we tell stories; and we count our blessings while worrying about those who bear the heaviest burdens of this time.
Please tell us a little about yourself: Do you have a nick-name? Where are you from? What do you write? Tell us something about yourself that makes you, you. :-)
What makes me me? Being the oldest of six in a California family; moving a lot (nine schools in twelve years); falling in love with history; team-teaching high school literature forever with funny, wise colleagues; marrying the love of my life and making a family with him; and reading Jane Austen. It was reading Austen obsessively as a young mom/teacher that finally made me a writer. With her stories of falling-in-love-standing-up-fully-clothed in the midst of a large tactless family, all the pieces of my own life story came together. “Aha!” I thought, and pulled out my old college portable typewriter, and began to tell the stories I was meant to tell—Regency period set romances!
How did you become an author? Please share a bit of your journey with us.
That last answer makes it all sound easy. NOT. There was a “lightbulb” moment of realization, similar to the “lightbulb,” which I envisioned the first time my husband asked me to marry him, four days into our acquaintance. “This one,” I said about him. “This path,” I said about writing. But, of course, there’s a transition from reader to writer and endless stuff to learn about the craft of writing and the changing world of publishing. As a teacher, I was already a “craft junkie,” a regular at workshops and a reader of endless books on teaching. I took the same approach to learning to write romance, and through a class met new “writer” friends, and joined the RWA, including the San Francisco Area chapter, the Beau Monde, and the national organization. [Whatever happens to those entities, I gained enormously from participating at every level, especially by acquiring savvy, brainstorming friends who love to read and write romance, who “get” what it’s all about.] Through the RWA I won a golden heart medal, found an agent, and got my early books in the hands of editors. I have the same agent now through stints with big and small houses and indie books, too.
What are you working on now? Do you have a recent or upcoming release?Since retiring from full time teaching, I’ve found yet another avenue for connecting with writers through our local library writers meet-up. In a cold basement room around a big table, an odd assortment of characters meets twice a week to write for an hour, and then to read aloud a portion of our works in progress. Currently, we Zoom. We range in age from an ex-priest of 92 to a young, community college student with a bent for dystopian lit. I’ve written seven novels since I joined the group, including the four books of the Husband Hunter series for Kensington.
As always, the list of things to do and learn to keep the writing going is endless. I’m writing the last few scenes of a short contemporary at the moment, before I return to my favorite Regency time period. Oddly, this novel with a TV weather girl heroine in fire season in California has required a great deal of research. I just sold the start of my 2010 Sons of Sin series to Romania, and will be e-publishing another early book of mine for the first time later this month—Winterburn’s Bride—the story of the Earl of Winterburn, a lordly veteran of the Napoleon Wars who returns changed by war and who refuses the path to a brilliant marriage set out for him by his family to accept a position as a curate in a small village. Think of Grantchester and Sydney Chambers! Fellow SFA-RWA member Lynn Coddington was an early reviewer of this story. Two of my books—Sweet Bargain, a traditional Regency RITA finalist and “Once Upon a Ring,” a contemporary novella, and Book Buyer’s Best winner, are free through Smashwords during COVID.
What is the most challenging part of writing romance?
Sustaining concentration is always the hardest part of writing for me. That pristine morning time when ideas tend to flow readily from the subconscious is often disrupted by the dog needing her morning cuddle and walk, by my husband’s habit of sharing the latest injustice or suffering from his morning newscast, and by the thunder of little feet and shrieks of sibling rivalry that attend our grandchildren’s interactions. By the time I get back to my desk, the words to describe the heated exchange between my hero and heroine may have burned off with the morning fog. When I read the books I most admire, I see on the page the results of intense concentration, the kind of focus that great athletes have that takes them out of themselves and into a “zone.” Often a little bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough in the afternoon helps me get back on track. :-)
What kind of research do you do when you set out to write a new book?
The aim of my research is always to put myself into a scene as completely as I can. I want to know what things look and feel like, what the weather is doing, and how the senses are stirred. I’ve done endless research on the Regency period, letting Jane Austen, her works and letters, and works about her be my guides. Trips to London, Bath, and Chawton, and some wonderful country houses, like Dyrham Park, featured in Sanditon have helped me get that sensory feel for the times. Recently, I cooked and served an authentic Regency dinner, using recipes from Jane Austen’s family. I find each story is like a magnet that pulls in bits of history, like the bet about driving a loaded blacking wagon across the frozen Serpentine in Hyde Park or the death of Chunee, the famous elephant in the Exeter Change, or even the odd architectural detail of the doors between rooms in Spencer House. YouTube has now become invaluable.
Who is a person you greatly admire and why?
A person I’ve long admired is Sister Wendy. As a brilliant young woman, she got a “first” from Oxford and taught English and Latin to poor girls in South Africa. When her health forced her to give up teaching, she got permission to live in what the English call a “caravan” as a consecrated virgin in a life of solitude and prayer. While I have no plans to live as a consecrated virgin—marriage has been my lifelong calling—what I love about Sister Wendy is what she did next. She dedicated two hours a day to writing about her passion for art history, only two. With regular discipline and concentration, she produced a body of remarkable work full of admiration for the human spirit and body. I’d definitely like a Wikipedia entry on me to say I’d done the same.
Please share one piece of advice to aspiring authors.
Everyone always says two things to aspiring writers--Write what you know! And Write what you love! But writers do that anyway. What you know is your experience, your truth, your sense of what a particular experience is like! The lasting, driving impulse to write and keep writing comes out of what you love. So I say, study the craft. Be a craft junkie. Care about POV; care about words; learn to sequence actions in clauses the way they actually happen; learn about beats and speaker attributions; care about rendering emotions so that readers feel them. And never stop studying.
Now it's time for the speed round!
City, suburb, or small-town?
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
In this time of COVID-19, books, movies, or shows?
Emma and British mysteries
Alpha, beta, or both?
Romantic suspense, contemporary, paranormal, or historical?
Wine, whiskey or punch?
Hot dogs, hamburgers, or tacos?
Boxers, briefs, or commando?
Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?
Cowboy boots, biker boots, or flip-flops?
Leather, lace, or silk?
Cake, cookies, or crumpets?
Chocolate chip cookie dough
Novels, novellas, or short stories?
Top, bottom, or against the wall?
Biceps, abs, or buns?
Cats, dogs, or exotics?
Any last words before we say goodbye?
Nothing is more human than telling a story. The stories we tell are a form of knowledge about what means to be a human person. Romances are about our experiences of transformation, hope, and enduring love.
A Lady's Guide to Passion and Property
July 2, 2018
Beauty, wit, and charm may catch a gentleman’s eye, but nothing attracts suitors quite like property . . . as beloved, award-winning author Kate Moore reveals in this delightful Regency romp. For an innkeeper’s daughter new to the dance, a discreet volume of courtship wisdom may help discern the intentions of a mysterious newcomer.
Lucy Holbrook has recently inherited her father’s south London inn, the place she’s always called home. Now her fashionable friends, arming her with The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London, are urging her to sell the establishment and become a society lady, just as her father always hoped. Lucy would rather toss the little book into the hearth—she could never desert the alehouse or its patrons, including an elderly blind man who depends on her care. But she may need every bit of good advice when a handsome stranger arrives with a secret agenda and a baffling crime to solve . . . and Lucy finds herself navigating a most dangerous attraction!
More About Kate
A native Californian, Kate taught English to generations of high school students, who are now her Facebook friends, while she not-so-secretly penned Romances. In Kate’s stories honorable, edgy loners meet warm, practical women who draw them into a circle of love whether in Regency London or contemporary California. A Golden Heart, Golden Crown, and Book Buyers Best winner and three-time RITA finalist, Kate lives north of San Francisco with her surfer husband, their yellow Lab, a Pack ‘n Play for visiting grand babies, and miles of crowded bookshelves.