What inspired you to write this novel?
The original idea came from an editorial through my editor. They had an idea they said - a mini series of books that were based around some of the classics of romantic fiction. Not copying them but taking the classic book as the springboard and using it to create a whole new story, a modern and contemporary take on the story. The whole series was to be called The Powerful and The Pure. Originally the book they suggested that I let myself be inspired by was North and South – the book by Elizabeth Gaskell which was hugely popular because of a wonderful TV series based on it, starring Richard Armitage. But I was worried that perhaps American readers might think this was the North and South written by John Jakes and televised starring Patrick Swayze. It was when the Executive Editor realised that I had loved and studied the Bronte sister and their books for years – growing up near Haworth where they lived, studying their books for both my first degree and my MA and that I had a special love for Wuthering Heights that she asked me to use that as my book. Then I had to let the wonderful original classic inspire me and make me create something new. I could never just copy the plot of the original, but thinking about the characters, the atmosphere, the high-voltage intensity of the story inspired me to create my own book. The Return of The Stranger is a Presents style/Modern Romance new take on an old story. It might be inspired by a classic but I’ve taken the characters, brought them into the 21st century and made the story my own.
Do you use the same writing process for each novel you've written or does it change from work to work?
Well, this one was that bit different because of the way that the editors wanted the mini series to be, but in the end, it meant that to create a book that was mine and not a weak copy of the original, I had to turn to my personal writing process to make it work. And that process is working to get to know my characters, digging deep into their personalities, seeing who they are and what makes them tick. I do this following a sort of character questionnaire, like the one I have given in my how to guide - the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance as a basis for knowing them, adding more and more layers as they grow in my imagination. - Then I need to look at what the conflict is between them – why they can’t be together and just fall into each other's arms! I create a situation that will create that tension and build on it so that they seem further apart than ever. And all the time I am asking myself why this is happening, why they feel this way. Of course I also need to ask myself why they will eventually fall in love and how the conflict can be resolved so that they can have their happy ending. I let the scenes of the story grow from these questions and ideas.
Is being a well-published author different from what you had expected when you had first started out?
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! One of the things that I am most proud of is that in my 25+ years as a published author I have kept up with the changes, kept current – and kept selling. I’ve never strongly changed my style but learned from what is being published now – and what is selling now
Promotion is essential for all authors in building a fan-base and reaching new readers. How do you promote yourself and your work, and what would you recommend to other authors?
When I started out there was no internet, no web site, no Facebook . . . . I’ve had to learn to use those and to promote my work this way. There is much more competition to promote and be seen then there ever was when I started out. I have a web site, a blog and a Facebook page – they’re great ways of being able to connect with readers and hopefully get them interested in my books. I live in the UK and one of my greatest markets is in America- another is Japan – so obviously I can never – or very rarely – get to actually meet up and chat with those readers. I've been to several Romance Writers of America conferences and they were great opportunities to meet readers, but I can’t do that every day. So that’s where my blog and web site come in. But I do think that authors should always remember that it’s the writing that comes first – always. The promotion is fine when you have a new book out but if social networking takes you away from actually writing a book then it’s a real waste of time. The other thing is that I know readers hate the hard sell – the ‘Here’s my book – buy it!’ approach. So I prefer to use my blog etc to keep up a conversation with my readers, tell them what I’m doing my my life, what I’m enjoying – what my cats are doing! - in amongst that will obviously be news about my books because that’s what I do – but I don’t want to push them down readers’ throats. I hope they’ll think I’m seem interesting and appealing and so they’ll think my books will be too.
Here's a fun question to wrap it up: If your hero could honeymoon anywhere, where would that be?
In The Return of The Stranger, my hero - 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. They would travel to Brazil where he has a huge, luxurious estate that would provide plenty of privacy and comfort.
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!
From Kate Walker's Website - The Return of the Stranger
Amazon UK - The Return of the Stranger
Amazon US - The Return of the Stranger
Kate's Website - 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance
Amazon UK - 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance
Amazon US - 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance
Where can readers find you?
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