Welcome, I would like to thank Kate September for taking the time to answer these questions for Coffee Time Romance. Today, we are asking Ms. September about her story, Duet of Desire, a Historical Romance.
Please, tell us a little about Kate, the person.
I live in Boston with my husband and two crazy dogs, one of whom is an evil genius, and the other who is the comic relief sidekick. We had a crazy fish, but unfortunately, he went to the great fish tank in the sky last week.
I've just planted an herb and flower garden on my roof deck, and am looking forward to enjoying some quality time outside this summer (once it stops raining so much!), especially in the evenings when the Boston skyline sparkles and you can just spend hours drinking wine, smelling flowers, hugging puppies and watching the planes take off and land at Logan Airport.
I ripped through this book at warp speed. I couldn't seem to help myself. I loved the way your descriptiveness about the place and time blended in so well with the story. Therefore, my question is this: what is your favorite time and place to write about?
I think I really enjoy writing historical settings, and it doesn't really matter when or where. I simply get inspired and swept away with an idea, and the rest naturally follows.
I have plans to write about Hellenistic Egypt, Cromwellian England, 17th century France, Boston in the 1860's, and so much more.
I saw that you thought people might find your heroine edgy. I agree that she was but she was also so realistically portrayed for her time and the position she held in society. I also thought her to be very strong. Do you find that the edgier heroine makes for a better story?
I wanted my heroine to be, above all, realistic. That meant that she had to have faults, she had to have aspects of her personality that people wouldn't like, and yet, she had to 'just like real people' have redeeming and endearing qualities as well.
We all see ourselves in the protagonists of books; it's the nature of narrative. What I wanted to accomplish with Elise Montfort is to have people see themselves reflected in a character, but reflected in a way that maybe has them look at the compromises and secrets we all hide.
I have to confess that I do like to write unexpected heroines who are a bit unconventional. Not every heroine has to be 'edgy' for me, but they all have to be real. This means that my heroines have to be a mix of good and bad; they have to make mistakes; and I have to be unflinching in showing their faults, making them ridiculous when necessary, and still bringing them to life with an innate goodness that makes you want to root for them.
The descriptions of the period, fashions and way of life were very vivid. How much research do you have to do to get it just right and where do you find the most information for your books?
I absolutely adore doing research for my books, and I tend to do a lot of it. My sources are a combination of the Boston Public Library, Amazon.com and Google. I start to piece things together, both with photocopies of important pages in books, printouts of various pictures and websites, putting it all together until I have my own little reference packet.
Usually, I start by reading general histories of the time period. What was going on politically, economically and socially. Once I've got a firm grasp of that, then I dig into what I really love, which are the small details of daily life and social manners. Little details like the singer Dranem's famous song from the Eldorado (mentioned in Duet of Desire), or the kind of food one would have in a restaurant, or the color and shape of a hat for me, these are the things that make a scene come alive.
Marc was a very compelling hero. He was commandeering and his masculinity was sexy and almost overwhelming, yet he remained a gentleman in every sense of the word. Do you find it hard to find the balance between Alpha male and bully?
I think sometimes I do find it hard, mostly because I like to explore the edges and limits of an Alpha male character. How far can you take love before it becomes obsession? How deep does passion run before it becomes possession? How does a man mask that inner, roiling, smoldering desire with the veneer of a society gentleman?
Generally, I end up going with my own instincts on when I've pushed the limit. If I find that something the hero has said or done scares me away, then I?ve gone too far. Yet, I love to live on that edge with my heroes balanced between brilliant and brutal.
You mentioned that you belong to Romance Writers of America. How do you feel this has helped you as a writer?
I think it lends a certain credibility and seriousness to your efforts and to your commitment to your career. I certainly enjoy getting the Romance Writers Report and learning about the industry.
When you are not writing, what are some of the activities you do enjoy?
I love to spend time walking my dogs around Boston or playing with them in the house. I knit (badly but obsessively). I love to cook, as well, though that's a talent that has only really emerged in the past few years. I also take every chance I get to read.
In the summer, we go up to the coast of Maine, where my in-laws live. It's a bit of heaven where I can pick blueberries, walk the beaches looking for sea glass, and play Martha Stewart at cocktail hour.
Have you always known you wanted to be an author?
My mother was showing me some of my old baby pictures recently, and there was one of me when I was maybe two years old, sitting in her lap outside on the lawn and gesturing. She said I was actually telling her a story about the squirrels in the tree, and it struck her as amazing that her child was telling her stories, and not the other way around. Needless to say, I owe so much to my mother for nurturing and encouraging my story-telling as a child, and also for becoming a sounding board, editor and critic as I grew older.
I've been writing down stories and telling stories all my life. It's simply who I am, and even if I had never been published, I would still be writing.
What is your favorite genre to write? To read?
I enjoy writing historical romance, but I also have a sneaky little leaning towards fantasy as well.
In terms of what I read, I generally love to read non-fiction as part of my research. For total escapism from everything, I adore P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. Benson for their English comedy of manners books. I also take guilty pleasure in reading true crime? I just can?t help myself there, it simply fascinates me.
If you could live in any time would you chose the past, present or the future? Why?
I think I would probably stick with living right now because being able to type on the computer and access information over the internet makes writing so much easier.
But I do think that something terrible has happened to us since the 1990's. Life has sped up. Sundays have become like any other day of work. Cell phones are like convenient shackles. There's so much information, so much coming at us all the time on 300 channels, I find it overwhelming.
However, like I said, computers, healthcare and indoor plumbing tip the scales for living in the present. Now if you said you had a time machine I could use to go visit other times and still comeback to central heating? The possibilities are endless!
Do you listen to music as you write, if so, what kind?
I actually don't listen to music as I write, generally. I like quiet with just the sounds of the street outside. My older pup sits behind me in my chair and watches the world out the window while I work. He stops me every 20 minutes for a hug break by crawling around to sit in my lap for a moment, then going back to his original position sitting behind me.
Duet of Desire is due out in June. Do you have any other books connected to this series coming out in the near future? If so, what, when and where? Do I sound desperate? If so, it's because I am!
If you need a Belle Epoque fix, you can certainly get it with Portrait of Desire, the first book in the series, which is currently available from Siren Publishing. The third and final installment of La Belle Epoque trilogy, Dance of Desire, will be available this fall.
Can you please share any upcoming events such as signings, chats, or new releases that you wish to tell us about?
I don't have any plans at the moment for any upcoming events I'm trying to take it easy this summer. But definitely check my website or join the Kate September Yahoo Group to get the most up-to-date news!
Also, please give us your website address.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. And since it bears repeating, I really loved this book!