I am thrilled to host historical romance author Kate Noble today! I fell in love with Kate's writing when I read (and reviewed) The Summer of You last year. I was blown away by her talent, so it was no surprise that The Summer of You was one of my Top Picks for 2010. Her newest, Follow My Lead, will surely make my Top Picks list for 2011 as I loved it, too. (Read Andrea's review here.) Kate says she started seriously writing romances when she found herself in a job that did not fulfill her ambitions creatively or sustain her financially. So, to keep herself amused, and out of debt (because writing is free), she started working on what became Compromised (which released in March of 2008). Her next book, Revealed, was a 2010 RITA nominee. Kate was gracious enough to answer my many questions, so please help me welcome her to The Romance Dish!
Andrea: Hi, Kate! We are so excited that you are visiting with us at The Romance Dish today! :) Thanks so much for being here.
Kate: Thank you so much for having me!
Andrea: So, you have a new book out—Follow My Lead—which I absolutely adore as you can tell by my review. Can you tell us a little about this story?
Kate: I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. I loved getting the chance to tell Jason’s (Jane’s brother from The Summer of You) story. He’s matured a bit since that book, and finally gained admission to the Historical Society. Meanwhile, someone else is seeking admission to the all-male society –Winnifred Crane, who wants recognition for the anonymous academic papers she’s authored. To get into the society, she offers an unusual bargain – if she can prove the authenticity of a certain painting, she’s in. But the proof is all the way across Europe.
Jason is tasked by the Society president with taking her to Dover. But when he sees her getting on the wrong ship, he finds himself trapped and stuck on this journey with Winn on her mad quest.
Andrea: And oh, what a mad quest it is! In The Summer of You, Jason was a bit wild and irresponsible and far from being a hero (though, I definitely saw the potential). Did you always plan to write his story?
Kate: About halfway through writing The Summer of You I realized Jason’s hero potential. But in that book, he’s still a little immature, fitting into his role as annoying brother with aplomb. So I knew for his story I would have to give him a little more gravitas. Therefore, the book is set 5 years after the events of The Summer of You, and Jason has come into his title of Duke. But since he’s been forced into (grudgingly) accepting all of the responsibilities inherent therein, he really misses having the occasional adventure.
Andrea: This book has so many great scenes—when Jason and Winn first meet, when they make a significant discovery, and of course, the ending. *sigh* Which one scene would you NEVER cut?
Kate: Oh golly, that’s difficult. Every scene serves a purpose, so plot-wise, I can’t think of one I’d let go of. But I think the scene that’s at the heart and soul of the book is the bonfire scene. This is where Winn and Jason reveal to each other the most about themselves, about who they are, and who they wish to be.
Andrea: I love that scene, too! And you're so right--they learn so much about the other. There is a lot of art history and historical facts in this book. How much research did you do?
Kate: I did more research on this book than on any previous story. Not just the life and times of Albrecht Durer, but the German Renaissance in general, the topography of the Germanic provinces, travel in the Regency Era, etc. I even ordered some lovely books about Bavarian villages, but was more than a little surprised when it turned out they were in German! Research was vital to this story, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out.
Andrea: I'm happy with how it turned out, too. *g* Jason and Winn do a great deal of traveling through Germany and Austria. Have you ever been to either place?
Kate: I have actually. I visited Austria when I was 17, on tour with my high school choir (not kidding). I remember practicing my languages while ordering at a McDonald’s in Stephansplatz, and getting seasick on a boat tour of the Danube.
Later, my sister was stationed for three years on an Army base in rural Bavaria. I visited her often, and based the village Winn and Jason spend a night in on the village she lived in. In fact, I arrived from a transatlantic flight once during a village festival and parade. I had no idea what was going on, what with the jetlag and all. Later, I put that scene in to the book (minus the jetlag, of course).
Andrea: Oh, wow! How neat that you went with your choir group. I bet that was an unforgettable trip. Well, you know I love the book, but I also have to say that I love the trailer for Follow My Lead. How creative! Who did the illustrations?
Kate: I love my trailer. I came up with the idea because I adore the illustrations of Edwardian artist Charles Brock. He illustrated numerous classic works for reprints as pocket novels (Pride and Prejudice is one of his best known). And I convinced a friend of mine who is a fantastic artist (and a damn good writer to boot), Kari Drake, to draw the pictures while I filmed her. They were, obviously sped up in editing.
Andrea: Which comes first for you—the characters or the story?
Kate: The characters, absolutely. But they never come fully formed. The story, the plot is what forces them to become fully realized, whole individuals.
Andrea: Speaking of characters, which of your heroines is most like you and why?
Kate: Oh wow. Well, they say writers really put themselves into their first work, and for me, at least, its very true. I am probably most like Gail from Compromised. Or at least, at one point in my life I was.
Andrea: I have Compromised in my TBR pile and need to read it asap! “Friends to lovers” and “enemies to lovers” are two of my favorite themes in romance. What are your favorites?
Kate: I adore the “friends to lovers” trope, because it’s the most fun to watch. I also love the “long lost loves” theme. When the characters have the overcome their mutual pasts to find happiness together. (To whit, Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.)
And of course, I adore the Road Trip Romance (*cough* Follow My Lead *cough*)
Andrea: LOL! Hey, I would say the Road Trip Romance is one of my favorites now, too. *wink* What is your very favorite part about being a writer?
Kate: The freedom to create. The ability you have to pull ideas out of your brain put them down on paper and see if they work. It’s disheartening when they don’t but you just keep trying and trying until they do...and that is thrilling.
Andrea: I bet it is. :) It says on your newly designed (and gorgeous) website that you were led to romance novels at an early age. What was the first romance that you remember reading?
Kate: I remember all the details of the first romance novel I ever read, except, unfortunately, for the title or author. My cousin was visiting for a week one summer and she left behind this book. It was a kisses-only (hey, I was like 11 or 12), category-length historical romance, where the girl next door – who was impoverished but made ends meet by giving piano lessons – had, as a child, adored the boy next door. He, of course, was the heir to a great estate. But he “died” early, except he was really kidnapped by his Spanish maternal grandfather, and raised by him, his mind being poisoned against his English family. He comes back, not telling anyone who he is, and accidentally sprains the ankle of (I think he falls out of a tree on her) the girl next door. She is naturally taken by him – and the only person she’s ever been taken by before was the boy who died. Eventually, she figures out who he is, makes him come out to his father, and everything is patched up nicely.
I must have read that book ten times that summer. I can picture the cover too – she has dark hair, is wearing a light blue dress and is sitting down looking up at this guy. (If anyone has any idea what the title of this book is, let me know!)
Andrea: Ooooh, it sounds like a good book! Surely someone out there knows what it is. Kate, what is one piece of advice that you were given that you would give to aspiring authors?
Kate: Do NOT give up. Perseverance is the greatest gift any writer can have, because there are people who are going to like your work, and they are going to tell you. Critique groups, agent rejections... You just have to keep your head down and keep writing.
Andrea: That is wonderful advice. So, what hobbies/activities do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Kate: Is sleeping a hobby? In all seriousness, writing keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not writing, I like a good movie night, and riding my bike on the beach. (It’s pink. The bike, not the beach.)
Andrea: LOL! What’s up next for you? (I’d like to see a story for a certain miss who had her heart broken, but maybe that’s just me *g*)
Kate: Well, you just may get your wish! I’m currently working hard on the next novel due out Spring 2012, which may or may not be about a certain heart-broken miss, who turns into quite the heart-breaker.
Andrea: Squeeeee! *keeping fingers crossed* Okay, it's Quick Six time!
Coffee or tea? Tea
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Heels or flats? Flats
Early bird or night owl? Night owl
Comedy or drama? Drama
And the most important: milk chocolate or dark? WHY MUST I CHOOSE????
Andrea: Okay, you don't have to choose. Personally, when it comes to chocolate, I'm not picky. *g* Thanks so much for answering my questions, Kate. Now it’s your turn—is there a question you’d like to ask our readers?
Well, since we were discussing romance tropes – Follow My Lead is very obviously a road trip romance. What are your favorite romance themes? The friends-to-lovers? The Florence Nightingale? The Secret Baby? (This is pure market research – I want to know what I should write next!)
One lucky commenter will win a copy of Follow My Lead! (U.S. and Canadian residents only)
Kate Noble is the national bestselling author of critically acclaimed, deeply romantic historicals. Visit http://www.katenoble.com/ for info about Kate, her books, excerpts, contests, and more!