This week the Minxes are proud to welcome back multi award winning and USA Today Bestselling Author Kate Walker. Kate has recently had her 60th title accepted and I'm sure everyone agrees she is an absolute inspiration to all aspiring authors.
Kate has very kindly offered a signed copy of any of her backlist books to a random (non-Minxy) commenter today, winner will be picked randomly and announced at the bottom of this month's Man of the Month post on Friday 7th October.
What is your writing process?
I’m half plotter, half panster!! I spend a lot of time before I put finger to keyboard thinking about my hero and heroine and getting to know them so that I hope I know how they will react to things. Then I have the basic ‘seed’ of an idea – it’s ‘what if he is this and she is that and then this is what starts things off.’ I have a good general idea of what the main conflict between them is and why it’s there – and how they meet. Then I have a strong idea of some key scenes along the way. After that it’s like introducing two people to each other and seeing what happens. I have a sense of where I want to head but not too sure how I’m going to get there – but knowing the characters and what they are feeling keeps me heading in the right direction. After that it really depends on the story – some books need more careful planning than others, for example if there’s some sort of mystery to be revealed or an explanation to be given. My latest book is inspired by Wuthering Heights so there was a basic backstory already set out and I knew I had to start the point where Heath comes back after a long absence. But with books where I don’t have that theme to work on, often the most difficult thing is knowing where to start the story for the best.
Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I just had my 60th title accepted (The Devil and Miss Jones out in March 20120 so I’m well used to the good day/bad day thing that can happen with writing. I also know from experience that there will be days when it’s like ploughing through mud – some days through mud mixed with treacle! – and there are rarer wonderful days when it flows. I wish there were more of those. What keeps me going? A contract! And a deadline! (I call them dreadlines!) I know that I’ve been here before and sweated blood to get it moving so I sit at my desk and I put the words down, even if they are rubbish. As – I think it was Nora Roberts said – you can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit an empty one. And sometimes you have to go through the tortuous days to set the scene ready for the good ones. But sometimes I do give in and go shoe shopping! There is a lot of advantage to relaxing your mind and letting it roam free while you're wandering about looking at shops – often that gives the confusion/muddle in your head time to shake down, settle and then inspirations strikes. And I have a lovely husband who if I’m really stuck I’ll go for coffee with, and tell him what I’m puzzling over then he asks what he calls ‘idiot questions’ – why doesn’t she do so and so or what if he thinks . . .. I usually end up saying ‘No way!’ but because I know then what he/she wouldn’t do, it becomes clearer what they would do.
Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
3 years ago I made a resolution that I was going to do something to counteract the effects of hours spent sitting at a desk. I decided that if I was going to take any exercise, I had to do it first thing in the morning - if I get started writing etc then I would just keep on doing that and never get the exercise. So I decided that I would ‘walk to work’ – I go out of the house, walk for a set time and then go back home ready to start work. I started with 30 minutes and now I do an hour almost every day. I love to do this early in the morning when everywhere is quiet – there’s a park and some woods near our house and I walk through there. I meet lots of dog-walkers and I get plenty of quiet time to think. I can work out knots in my story that way – and plan scenes or dialogue. I had to force myself to begin with but now I miss it if I don’t go.
Do you believe in writer's block?
If you mean the sort of temporary block I’ve described above, then yes it happens all the time – but real solid permanent writer’s block when you never write again . . well, I’m glad to say I’ve never experienced that. I do think block’s happen through lack of confidence and through not knowing your characters well enough. Even after all this time and 60 published books – more if you include the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance - I can still get horrible days when I think I can’t do this and the fraud police will find me out. But I have great writing friends who’ll listen to me moan – I’ll do the same for them – and ask questions, make suggestions that make me grit my teeth and go on again. Because the only way past writers’ block is to write.
Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
No I can’t say I have – but really every book has a bit of me and a bit of things I’ve known, seen, experienced in them. I just wouldn’t use them wholesale but change the details to protect the guilty!
In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
Being a published author is constantly changing, the longer I do it. I started out with a manual typewriter, turning in a book when I could, waiting two years or more for it to be published, doing very little promotion, not even having the books go into different lines – there was no Modern Romance etc in the UK. Now I work on a computer, submit by email, connect with readers through the internet, and have fixed deadlines. . . I never expected that I would go to America and meet readers there. One thing I never ever expected was that I would be so much in demand to teach writing - and that I would end up writing the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance so that now lots of people write to me to tell me how much it’s helped them. I regularly run courses in Wales and all over the UK and next year I’ll be teaching a week long residential course in Tuscany - I certainly never saw that coming!
Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Promotion shouldn’t be a dirty word. As a writer you create a - I hate to call it a product but that’s what marketing would do – you create something you are proud of and you want to reach as many readers as possible. It makes sense to let people know about that. You can’t force them to buy but you can hope to let them know your book is out there and hope that they will pick it up. After that the best way to sell your next book is to write the best possible one this time so they want to see more. I join in chats on the internet, on the romance writing site, I run my web site and keep it up to date and I blog regularly at Blog Kate Walker. I also have regular guest posts on other blog – like Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs, The Pink Heart Society and We Write Romance.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Never do the hard sell – I have an inbuilt resistance to someone praising something because they're pushing it. And I strongly believe that readers will feel the same. In the end, what it really comes down to is as I said above – the best way to promote your other books is to make sure that the one in the readers’ hands is the best you can possibly make it.
What did you learn while writing this book?
As I said, this book is inspired by Wuthering Heights as part of the special mini-series The Powerful and the Pure. I have always loved Wuthering Heights as a book, I read it when I was young, I grew up near Haworth where the Bronte sisters lived and I studied it for both my first degree and my MA – I wrote my thesis on Emily and Charlotte Bronte’s books - so I loved going back to it again and relearning – not learning new – just how brilliant a novel it is and how amazing Emily Bronte was as a writer.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I had the perfect excuse to reread this fabulous book - and watch all the different films/TV adaptations of the novel – then to go away and create my own Heathcliff, rework his story in the spirit of, but not copying the original – and to give Kat and Heath (my characters) the happy ending the original Heathcliff and Cathy could never have had because deep down Wuthering Heights isn't truly a love story – it’s about passion, possession, power – but I got to put the love in there!
And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
When Heath comes back after so many years away, he has made a new life for himself by going to Brazil and working there. He’s made himself a fortune out there too, and bought a huge estate where he breeds horses. Kat has stayed at home in Yorkshire all that time, so I’m positive he would want to take her to South America to show her his new home and his very different way of life – but then I have a suspicion that they’d make their home back in Yorkshire in the end.
Thank you to the Minxes, for inviting me along to Minxes of Romance. My Maine Coon Charlie loves rewarding readers – and he would like to offer a special giveaway of a signed book from my backlist to one commenter.
M&B Modern September 2nd 2011
Presents Extra October 4th 2011
Standing high on the windswept moors, the lone figure of Heath Montanha vows vengeance on the woman who destroyed the last fragments of his heart... Lady Katherine Charlton has never forgotten the stablehand with dangerous fists and a troubled heart from her childhood. Now the rebel is back, his powerful anger concealed under a polished and commanding veneer. When ten years of scandal and secrets are unleashed, with a passionate, furious kiss, Heath's deepest, darkest wish crystallises... Revenge -- and Kat -- will be his!
Buy The Return of the Stranger at the following:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, eHarlequin, Mills & Boon, Mills & Boon Australia
Where can readers find you?
Author Page created by Romance Book Paradise Promotions