Interview with Kathryn Kane
Susana: What inspired you to start writing?
Kathryn: After college I was a museum curator and later the curator of a historic house. I enjoyed working with historic furnishings and artifacts and learning how they were made and used in their own time. Some years ago, having left the museum field for the tech industry, I realized I could put my knowledge of social and cultural history, as well as the history of things to use. As an author, I could create historically accurate environments for my characters and enable those characters to use those objects as they were originally intended. Many of those objects have interesting aspects to their use which I though would enrich my stories for my readers.
Susana: How long have you been writing?
Kathryn: In terms of scholarly articles, I have been writing for over twenty years. But when in comes to romance, about six years. I went through a number of different stories, with multiple drafts, as I honed my romance-writing skills. I think now I have found the right balance in my work, telling a heart-warming romance within a historically accurate setting.
Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Kathryn: Read. But not just romance novels. Take the time to read lots of reviews of romance novels, particularly in your preferred genre. Doing that gave me the confidence to write the stories I wanted to write, since I discovered there were quite a lot of readers out there who liked the same kind of stories I did. I think that kind of confidence improves your writing and helps you to write with your own, true voice.
Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Kathryn: Occasionally. Fortunately, I have a few solutions, or perhaps I should say, distractions, available to me. I have found that the easiest way for me to break through writer’s block is to get my mind off the blockage for a time. Physical exercise is often the best distraction for me, so I go for a long ride on my bicycle, if the weather is fine. If not, I am fortunate to live near a property which is now a large park, but used to be one the greatest country estates in New England in the early nineteenth century. Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on the estate, though the buildings are all gone, I know not only what they looked like, but how they were furnished. As I walk, I imagine life on the estate when it was at its peak. Usually, by the time I get home, new ideas are bubbling up and my writer’s block dissolves away. If a walk or a bide ride don’t do the trick, I switch gears and work on an article for my Regency history blog. It takes a lot of concentration, and by the time I finish a new article, the next chapter in my current romance does not seem quite so daunting.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Kathryn: My debut Regency romance is called Deflowering Daisy, so, as a play on the title, I have woven a number of snippets of floral history into the story. Daisy is the heroine of the story, who got her name after I did quite a lot of research into a number of flowers with names which start with “D” to find just the right characteristics. Though daisies seem to be quite common flowers, they have several valuable properties, one of which is that of healing. The hero of the story, David, is a former spy who is war-weary, soul-sick and desperately in need of healing. And the heroine, Daisy, thinks she is just as common and seemingly insignificant as the flower after which she is named. Through the course of the story, Daisy and David give each other forgiveness, self-esteem and peace, with the help of a lot of flowers.
Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
Kathryn: It is a change of genre for me, a romantic fantasy with ecological overtones. I am working on the story of a young woman who offers herself as the human sacrifice to save an ancient forest. The guardian of the forest, a powerful wizard who hates humans for the damage they have inflicted on his forest, accepts her offer. However, as he comes to know her, he finds he cannot bear the thought of her death. Yet, without it, he will die along with the forest.
Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?
Kathryn: Georgette Heyer. She created the Regency romance genre, which is my favorite. She was also a diligent researcher who did her best to write historically accurate stories. I do my best to emulate her efforts in my own work, since I so much enjoyed reading hers.
Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Kathryn: A librarian, since I thought all the books were kept at the library and I love books. Then, after reading lots of books by Georgette Heyer when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to study history when I went to college. But I still love libraries, because I still love books.
Susana: What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?
Kathryn: My favorite food is ice cream, because it is sweet, cool and creamy.
My least favorite food is liver, because it is liver.
Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Kathryn: That I love progressive rock and roll, especially Rick Wakeman, Yes, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. I don’t listen to prog rock when I write, because I find it too compelling and am not able to concentrate. But I often listen to it when I am working around the house or relaxing and can give it my full attention. I find the rich layers of sound in prog rock very satisfying. Since I like those layers in music, I also try to incorporate them into the stories I write.
Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?
Kathryn: England, in particular Bath. I have never been there, though I have read a lot about it. Jane Austen and her family spent several years there, and quite a lot of the city which remains today was there during the Regency. To me, it is the most “Regency” city in England and I would love to have the time to walk the streets and visit places like the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms to soak up the atmosphere and get a sense of the space.
Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
Kathryn: It is the last line from the poem, To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, by Richard Lovelace.
“I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.”
Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?
Kathryn: I write primarily in Regency romance, but in the past couple of years some stories in the fantasy genre have just popped into my head and I had to write them down. It was the only way to get those characters out of my head. I am currently re-working one with an eye to publication.
Susana: What are your favorite pastimes?
Kathryn: I enjoy riding my bicycle, but I freely admit, I am a fair-weather cyclist and only ride on sunny days. However, my real passion is needlework. I love all forms of needlework. I love to crochet and tat, and I am learning to make cord with a lucet. Embroidery is also a great pleasure for me, particularly when it involves beads and silk ribbon. I love to sew, especially quilting, and have made a number of “straight” quilts, but crazy quilts are my real favorites.
Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?
Kathryn: A washing machine. Working with fabrics requires they be washed before using to remove the chemicals with which they are treated, so a washing machine is the most important modern convenience to me. Though I am also quite fond of my clothes dryer, my iron and my steamer.
About Deflowering Daisy
“She cannot remain a virgin!”
For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?
She cannot remain a virgin!”
“You want me to rape your wife?” David Everard rose from his chair, shocked to his core. Sir Arthur Hammond, a man whom he had admired and respected all his life, his godfather and the man he loved as dearly as a father, was asking him to deflower his wife.
“No!” exclaimed Sir Arthur. “No, of course not. She is as dear to me as a daughter.”
“And yet, in six weeks’ time, you propose to give this young lady into my keeping for the express purpose that I violate her person and take her virginity. A young lady, I might add, whom I have never met, a young lady to whom I will be a complete stranger.” His eyes narrowed as he fixed his godfather with the same withering stare which had broken more than one enemy agent under intense interrogation. “She does not know who I am?”
“No, I am sorry to say, she does not,” the older man responded with equanimity, and a note of sadness. Sir Arthur met his gaze without flinching. “I have not spoken of you, David, to anyone, even George, from the day I gave you my word I would not. I keep my promises, young man!”
“Yes, sir, I know. It gave me hope you would be safe.”
“I made that promise to you only because you asked it of me. I was never afraid.”
“But I was,” he admitted. “It was necessary that everyone believed my friends and family had cast me off. I did not want to take the chance anyone might think they could get to me through you or George. I wanted the world to think I was nothing to you, nor you to me. I had to know you were both safe in order to do what I had to, for England.”
“And you have, my boy,” Sir Arthur said. “But the war is over now and Boney is put away for good, in no small part thanks to you, I am sure.”
“Don’t try to make me into a hero, Arthur,” he said. “I am nothing of the sort.”
“Hrrmph! I will never think you anything else, no matter what you say,” came the staunch rejoinder.
Though he did not reply, deep in his soul, David felt again a wave of infinite gratitude for his godfather’s unconditional loyalty to him. Without it, he was not sure he would have been able to endure these past few months as the social exile he had become since that day on Beachy Head.
“You have spent most of this past decade risking life and limb here and on the Continent, to protect England. Have you not the courage to spend one week to protect a kind and gentle young lady and a host of orphans?”
“Protect her by taking her to bed? If she is as you say, I am sure you can find any number of men willing to bed her.”
“There is no one else I can turn to, no one else I can trust. You are like a son to me.”
“So, now you are advocating incest?” David asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. “You want a man you consider a son to violate the woman you consider a daughter?” Was it possible for this to get any more repugnant, he wondered to himself.
“God’s teeth, David!” the older man shot back. “You bloody well know that is not what I am asking. Or why.” He took a long, slow, deep breath. “You have a reputation for having a way with women. It is said you give your bedmates pleasure equal to what you take, that you are a kind and considerate lover. That is what I want for Daisy. She is a complete innocent. She should be initiated tenderly, gently, by a man who will appreciate her quality.”
“Then find a man of quality to initiate her, not some spawn of hell unfit to associate with civilized people.” David walked the few paces to the fireplace as his bitter words fell into silence. When Sir Arthur did not speak, he turned. “I have not touched a woman in nearly a year and I have never taken a virgin,” he admitted. “I am the last man of whom you should ask this.”
“You are the only man I can ask, David,” the older man replied. “Despite your words, I know you to be the most decent and honorable man of my acquaintance. And Daisy is a very special girl, a loyal and generous soul whose sweet spirit should not be crushed by a cold-hearted bedding. I know you would never do that to her.”
“She is your wife. You can do the deed yourself,” David reminded him.
“No, my boy,” Sir Arthur said on a sigh. “Even if I were not much too old for her, there was only ever Millie for me. From the day I met her I never wanted another woman. Even though she is more than eleven years gone, there will never be anyone else.”
“Then encourage her to take a lover,” David suggested, trying to keep the desperation from his voice. He dropped back into his chair.
“I have tried for years, but she has never shown interest in any gentleman to whom I have introduced her. Of which there are few, near our estate in Kent,” he admitted. “And I can seldom get her to leave the country in order to broaden her acquaintance in London. She is determined to be a devoted and faithful wife, even though I doubt she has any concept of what unfaithfulness would entail. And now, it is too late. I cannot leave her so exposed, at such risk.”
“Why? What is so different now?”
Please visit Kathryn’s Books page at her web site for an extended excerpt.
Historical Snippet: Embroidery
Early in the story, the heroine, Daisy is working on her embroidery, of flowers, of course. When she puts it away for the evening, she pauses to look at her thimble when she takes it off. It is a very special thimble which means a great deal to her. It has a tiny purple enamel pansy which marks it as the product of the famous Palais Royal in Paris. The needlework implements and workboxes which were sold at the Palais Royal were considered to be the finest available at the time. Daisy received a small Palais Royal workbox on her first wedding anniversary. She had never been given anything so fine in all her life and that gift was so important to her that it quite literally saved her life. (You will have to read the story to find out how).
Though the Palais Royal stitching implements and workboxes were available only in Paris, there were still quite a number of English ladies during the Regency who had a set. Some had been acquired by the English who traveled to Paris during the Peace of Amiens, but there were also those who had contacts in Paris who could make special acquisitions for them. Therefore, despite Napoleon’s blockade, these luxury items still made their way to the needlewomen of England. And it is almost certain that any lady lucky enough to receive a workbox or implement set from Palais Royal would treasure it. These items were beautifully made and quite a few of them had delightful little secrets. Some contained music boxes, others had secret compartments, and still others were made as realistic miniatures of other objects.
More information about the exquisite Palais Royal sewing implements and workboxes can be found at Kathryn’s blog, The Regency Redingote.
About the Author
Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.