Jul 15, 2013

Legends On LoveCats with Kate Walker........

We welcome the fabulous Kate Walker to our Legends on LoveCats today......  

1/ Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?
 
I always loved telling stories even before I could write I was making up stories. My mother  told me that I was making up  the tale of the Three Little Raindrops — Drippy, Droppy and Droopy  for  my two younger sisters when I was four. I can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling away at something, and I wrote my first 'book' when I was eleven, an adventure story, most of it in secret in lessons at school.  I kept on writing stories all through my school years.  A friend of my mother wrote romance for Mills and Boon and I so admired her and wanted to do what she did but my mother and teachers always said that being a writer was just a dream and I would never succeed at it.  When I  married and worked as a Children's Librarian, writing  took a back seat but when I left work to have my son  I decided that if ever I was going to achieve my dream the time was now.  I remembered my mother's friend who wrote from home when her children were small and so I determined to see if I could do the same. I set aside the two mornings a  week when my son was at Nursery  and I loved the whole experience of telling stories all over again.  The first two novels I sent in were rejected, but  for the second one I received a detailed comment letter. That said ‘please read some of the recently published books and try again.’ When I read that I was determined to try again  and I wrote a third story and sent it in. That was the very first book that Mills & Boon accepted  and it became The Chalk Line my first published novel. And even better I showed everyone who  said I would never make a success of writing that in fact I did – and I've continued to do so for almost 30 years now!
 
 2/ How many books have you had published so far in your career?
The latest romance I had published – A Throne for The Taking – was my 61st novel for Harlequin/Mills & Boon. That was published in June this year. I've also written  the 12 Point Guide to Writing  Romance  so that
makes 62.
 
 3/ The world of publishing is ever evolving, how have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?
Sometimes I ask myself that and I can’t really give a definite answer. I have been writing and been published – as I said - for  almost 30 years now ( The Chalk Line was published in 1984) so there have been plenty of changed in that time. For example, when I started no one used the hero’s point of view – now it’s in almost every novel. I have always tried to keep up with what is being published – in romances and in the larger genre of popular fiction.   Reading what is current is the best way to see what is currently popular, but you have to be careful not to jump on a bandwagon too late – and the saying goes, if you can see the bandwagon then it’s probably going past you!  As well as fiction, I read a lot of magazines, watch TV, particularly  things like  soaps which develop over time too,  see films – again, what is poplar gives me the ideas of what I could write about.  As you say, publishing is ever evolving and romance writing doesn’t stand still. Themes and ideas that were popular 5 – 10  years ago are no longer so popular or even acceptable so I need to keep alert to what is happening.
 
 
4/ What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
There have been several – obviously the acceptance of my very first book. And I had a special and really enjoyable celebration  for the publication of my 50th title.    But really the great thing about having a long lasting career like this is that each new book accepted brings a great sense of achievement  and  then the day it’s published and I first see in in the shops is another great pleasure. It’s wonderful knowing that I have achieved this dream that everyone said would never happen.
 
 
5/ Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
 Oh that’s impossible to answer! As I’m sure everyone says it’s like choosing which of your children is your favourite.  There’s The Chalk Line which was my first ever book. Or Game of Hazard which was the first to go to America (they didn't all do that automatically then.) There’s The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge which was my 50th  title -  and then The Konstantos Marriage Demand which won the Romantic Times Best Presents Extra award. And I loved writing Return of the Stranger which gave me a chance to revisit one of my personal favourite books  - Wuthering Heights – and rework it as a Modern Romance.
 
 
6/ Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m largely a pantser. I tend to start with a small idea and then nurture it to make it grow – usually by asking the question why?  Why did that happen? Why would he do this . . .’ I then ‘set off hopefully into the mist.’  But as I’m working I always have a pen and notepad beside me so that I can write down ideas for the way ahead and scenes that will be coming up. I work so much through my characters – they are what I start with and I need to make them work so the story develops through them and the way they would behave.
 
7/ What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
I’m often asked this and the main  piece of advice is always the same – read, read, read.  If you look at the answer to question 3, you’ll see why. Read what the publishers are publishing now, the sort of stories they are  buying.  No matter what genre you want to write – read widely in that genre (and others) to get an idea of the wide range of stories that are published in it. The other thing is to  write from the heart – to be true to yourself and not try to copy other authors, other voices.  In romance writing it’s very difficult – almost impossible to be amazingly original, there are so many tried and tested themes, but your individual voice, your individual ‘spin’ on a story can make the tried and tested seem new again. As I always say at the writing courses that I teach, ‘ It will be really difficult to be truly original – but you can be truly authentic – true to yourself.’ The published don’t want another Penny Jordan or Emma Darcy, they already have books in those voices – they want you.
  
8/ What do you love most about being a romance author?
What’s not to love (oh well-  ok there’s the waiting times and the revisions, always revisions!) but what other
job can you do  still in your pyjamas if you want to - or trackie pants and a tee shirt and bare feet, I can plan my own hours, work in the middle of the night if I want to. I get to watch films/TV dramas with the most gorgeous
men in them – and call it research. Ditto  with a travel and visiting new places.  When I teach I meet enthusiastic and involved people  and have some great conversations  about writing. I get to spend my days with (imaginary) gorgeous tycoons or sheikhs and feisty heroines , deal with passionate and intense emotions, – and I get to write down all that those ‘voices’ in my head are telling me and not get called mad!  Oh, and I get paid for it as well!!

Thank you Kate for being our guest today!  And Kate has a copy of A Throne For The Taking to give away to one lucky commenter.

Visit Kate at her website ......

 

34 comments:

  1. Hi Kate! Fancy seeing you here!!!
    Loved reading this blog's content. Can relate to jobs done in pj's/comfy clothes, as I type from home and often am comfy too - and in the middle of the night, depending on deadlines. When I write poetry for friends and families, some of my inspirations come in the middle of the night; even though I write them down, sometimes they keep me awake, so up I get and plod on down to my office until the "inspirations" quit coming.
    I liked your choices of books through the years; it wasn't so much their content that made them special, but instead were more occasion-related (your first book, your 50th book, etc.). Made total sense to me, as I would imagine books ARE like children when you can't choose favourites.
    I'd better go. I'm sure I have some of your books here waiting for me to read! (So many books, so little time is true for many of us.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kate, and welcome to the LoveCats! It's terrific to have you here with us. I'm reeling a little at your grand total of 61 romances so far. That's just brilliant. And of course your fantastic 12 point guide which I still pick up now and again.

    Do you have favourite themes of stories you find yourself returning to again and again? Do you have favourite themes you look for in other writers? The ones you see on the back cover copy and can't resist picking up?

    Looking forward to hearing about your 62nd soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a fabulous interview, Kate and Love Cats! Kate, you are a true legend and congratulations on your long and successful career. I was fascinated with your advice - I so agree. Reading really feeds into our writing, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Kate, love the raindrop story. Children's imaginations are awesome, and it's wonderful if we can hang on to that as we grow up andnot have it knocked out of us. And yes, it is the perfect job, being able to wear what you like, work where and when you want to, and stop for unexpected visitors as I've just done this morning. Looking forward to your next book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kate, it's so wonderful to have you visit the LoveCats! 61 published romances -- just...wow! Congratulations, that is such an awesome achievement.

    Your advice to writers really resonated with me. I'd been in a reading slump last year for quite some time, but I was amazed at how much my creativity picked back up once I started reading again. Reading, I think, is like breathing for writers. :-) Like Annie I'm looking forward to hearing all about your 62nd book!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Kate - thank you for the fabulous interview...61 books is phenomenal. Congratulations on such an amazing career and thanks for visiting LoveCats DownUnder :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much for visiting LoveCats, Kate. Your "how to" book was one of the first I read when I started writing romance. It's such a great guide. 61 books is such an incredible achievement...leaves me speechless and inspired.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Kate, I enjoyed the interview thank you. A very important point you made about staying current. Thoughts and views are constantly changing. Congratulations on your success thus far and I look forward to reading all your future books as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Kate, I really enjoyed your interview and hearing about your process (sounds a little like mine). 61 books is a remarkable achievement and a dream of mine. I've just had my first one published, but as you said in the interview, keep trying, keep working and one day I might be where you are. Now, that would be something! Thanks for sharing your experience of dreams coming true.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great interview Kate. Your latest book is amazing and I can't wait for the next one!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post, Kate and Helen!

    Kate, it's so awesome to have you at the LoveCats and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey to publication! Your books have a special place on my shelf and I've got your 12-Point Guide too - excellent for budding romance writers!

    Please give your lovely Catwalk candidates, Charlie and Flora, a scratch behind the ears for me!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for visiting us, Kate! It's so lovely to have you here.

    I love the sound of Drippy, Droppy and Droopy's story - perhaps one day you could release it for children? :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi everyone
    Sorry to be late coming I to chat with you I was away at the RNA conference and I thought this post was going up after I got back so I relaxed thinking I had time to come along and answer you all.

    I've just got back, not yet unpacked - so I need a stiff tea , put the first load of washing in and then I'll be back!

    Talk soon!

    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love the interview, Kate. It's great to see another pantser and what's not to like about writing romance. It's a great job. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello Laney. I should know you'd find me wherever I am! I know just how it feels to have inspiration in the middle of the night and have to look for something to write things down. Perhaps I should have asked you which of my books was your favourite - or are there any you haven't read yet?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello Annie - and thank you for your welcome. I'm looking forward to seeing you visit my blog soon. I was talking to someone yesterday about those 61 novels and when she asked how I managed to write them, I said it was just word after word - and somehow they all built up!-
    Favourite themes? Oh now - let's see I'm a sucker for an amnesia story - or a wronged hero/ former bad boy! But I don't really think in terms of themes as I write - just 2 characters who tell me a story I just have to tell my readers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh Anna - you are making me blush. I can't quite see myself as a legend but it's an honour to be included in this list of writers. Specially as I'm in amongst authors like Helen Bianchin, Valerie Parv and Robyn Donald. Writers whose books I loved to read before I was ever published - I learned such a lot from them too.

    And as for reading - I just love having a pile of books waiting for me - on the shelf or on my kindle - but the trouble is I can never resist adding to them. Everything I read feeds my imagination, even if it's not directly relevant to the story I'm thinking about. Writers are like magpies, they pick up bits of inspiration here there and everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Sue - I'm glad my Mother remembered the raindrop story as I have no memory of it! She says I had an encyclopaedia open on my knee and was pretending to read from it! Isn't it wonderful being your own boss so you can work when the time is available and if you're needed elsewhere you can do that and then come back. Perfect

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello Michelle - I was I a reading slump last year for various reasons but then I realised that by not reading I was starving my imagination - and heading into a writing slump too. So I determined to change that and it's been so great just to indulge my reading need. It is like breathing for authors as you say - so - deep breaths - and lots of books!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Helen - that YOU so much for inviting me here. It's a real honour to be included in your list of 'legends' - so special.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Jennifer - thank you so much for the lovely compliment on the 12 Point Guide. It's a book that was written to help new authors learn their craft and head towards publication and I'm so pleased that it has done that for a lot of people. And as I said to Annie - those 61 books were just created word by word. I'm stunned how there turned out to be so many.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Mary - lovely to see you here. I hope that I can continue to keep current even as styles and fashions in reading change. Next year it will be 40 years since my first book was published - time for another celebration perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nice to meet you Liesl - and congratulations on that first book. Isn't it an amazing feeling? I hope it's the start of many for you. Because, yes, dreams can come true - but we have to put in a bit of an effort to help them along!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Rachael - lovely to see you here and in person at RNA. Thank you for saying how much you enjoyed A Throne for the Taking. After a great conference, it's time to get back to work on #62.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great to see you Sharon - and thank you for the comments on 12 Point Guide. I am so thrilled when fellow writers say that even now they still have it on their shelves. Catwalk Charlie and Flora send
    purrs of hello - and Charlie is getting ready to pick a winner when I tell him to.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks Rachel. Release Drippy Droppy and Droopy? Well I would if I could remember it but - er - it was rather some time ago!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Kiru - and yes it's lovely to meet another pantser. I've tried to plan things more but it just doesn't work. I feel as if I've already told the story once!

    ReplyDelete
  28. charlotte mcfallJuly 17, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    I don't plan my stories, just try and let them go where they want, I wish I didn't chicken out coming to say hello earlier to you at the rna.
    61 books is totally amazing. and I agree with Rachel's comment of publishing Drippy Droppy and Droopy :) xx

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hello Charlotte - it was great to meet you at RNA, even if you did leave it for a while. I'm quite human! Oh dear if everyone's interested in Drippy Droppy and Droppy I'm going to have to try and remember it!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm going to find Charlie the Maine Coon cat and get him to help me pick a winner - so watch this space!

    ReplyDelete
  31. And the winner is:

    Sue McKay!

    Sue can you pleased email me kate AT kate-walker.com and let me know your postal address please? Then I'll get the prize in the post to you

    Thank you to everyone for your wonderful warm welcome

    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  32. I really enjoyed reading your post Kate and got so much out of it. There's so much great advice for the non published writer. And 61 books published is an absolutely amazing achievement!!

    ReplyDelete