Today I’m happy to welcome a fellow historical author, Kathleen Buckley. I think you might find something of interest in her books, but I’ll let her tell you all about what she writes, her process for doing so, and maybe a hint at her next book. First, here is her official bio.
After a varied career which included being a paralegal and a security officer, Kathleen Buckley began to write historical romances. She is now the author of three Georgian romances: An Unsuitable Duchess, Most Secret, and Captain Easterday’s Bargain, with a fourth, A Masked Earl, currently in the editing process. They are perhaps best described as “powder & patch & peril”: romance with adventure (and occasional humor) rather than drawing room romance. Among her hobbies is the recreation of 18th-century baked goods because they are reliably good, whereas boiled tongue and udder with root vegetables fails to appeal. She sometimes finds it odd that she writes novels set in 1740s England although she lives in 21st-century New Mexico. Connect with her on her blog at https://writing-on-el-camino-real.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/anunsuitableduchess/.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Kathleen: I’ve written three which have been published in the last two years, and a fourth which is currently in production. I self-published another.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Kathleen: My three recent novels are Georgian period historical romances set in the 1740s. I love Georgette Heyer’s novels, and wanted to see if I could write one similar. I set them in the 1740s because I became fascinated with that decade as a result of a paper I wrote in college about the publication of Samuel Richardson’s novel, Pamela.
I’ve also written three crime fiction short stories, two of them published in anthologies edited by the late Robert Bloch (before he was “…the late…”), one in an online magazine. Why crime fiction? I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, and I took a couple of classes in murder/criminal investigation.
A few years I self-published a coming of age novel about a dumpster-diving adolescent loner. The story just came to me and I wasn’t writing anything else, so…
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Kathleen: Captain Easterday’s Bargain is the story of a woman’s struggle to succeed in a male-dominated business (the shipping trade in the 18th century Pool of London). More than two centuries later, women still face challenges in their work. The “bad boy” is a minor motif. It’s a common theme in romantic fiction, and I thought it was time to re-evaluate it.
London’s cutthroat shipping trade is no place for a lady,
although Olivia Cantarell has secretly acted as her father’s assistant for
years. Now she has inherited his company, she has no mind to give up control
over it—and herself—by marrying, however flattering it is to be sought after
for the first time in her life. In spite of threats and intimidation, she will
fight to keep her business.
Careful, responsible, and twice jilted, Captain Marcus Easterday has no heart to attempt marriage a third time. But he cannot stand by and see a woman cheated of her livelihood by Ambrose Hawkins, rumored to be a former pirate, a man whose name is known and feared in ports from the West Indies to China.
Courted by the ruthless Hawkins while relying on the scrupulous Easterday’s help, Olivia must conceal the identity of one of her clerks and protect her company and employees. Who can she trust?
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Kathleen: I have a home office/sewing/hobby room—where else to stash the computer, printer, sewing machines, reference books, all their related bits, and the shelves and multiple file cabinets to store them? I’m a desktop writer, not a laptop writer, and can’t imagine being able to concentrate on writing if I were sitting in a coffee house or under a tree.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Kathleen: For my invariable early morning writing session, I drink coffee. Nothing fancy: the inexpensive kind from Costco or the supermarket, made in a Mr. Coffee. Half-and-half, no sugar—though I do like a strong coffee, not “light” or “medium”.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Kathleen: My dumpster-diving adolescent loner non-romance for which I had high hopes was either rejected or ignored by about thirty agents, and I’d given up on it. Because I can’t not write, I wrote a historical romance for my own amusement, attempting to mimic Georgette Heyer’s style. When I finished, I thought I’d see what publishers were accepting historical romance novels. A Google search revealed there were romance publishers who didn’t require submission through an agent. I narrowed the list to two, and queried one based on Internet research about them. The Wild Rose Press has been a great choice. It took only 43 days from initial query to contract, and they’ve now published three of my romances, with a fourth currently in production.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Kathleen: I sit at my computer and do it. A bumper sticker I once saw says it all: “80% of success is showing up”.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Kathleen: Oh, the germ of the situation, definitely. My second book, Most Secret, started with the thought, “What if someone imported French army surplus muskets for the Jacobite rebels in 1745?” That took care of both the situation and the setting, and the characters I needed fell into place.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Kathleen: I get up early, sometimes as early as four a.m., and start by making a pot of coffee and feeding the cats. Then I write while drinking the coffee, for anything between an hour and a half and four hours. I rarely deviate from this, although once in a while I put in some additional time later in the day if I’m really percolating with ideas.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Kathleen: My current project bubbled along nicely until about the 63,000 word mark. Then, as almost always happens, I wondered where the last 25,000 to 30,000 words were going to come from. And as always happens, after re-reading some parts and thinking for a while, I have a good idea where I need to go and what I need to deal with.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Kathleen: I don’t, and for exactly the same reason I don’t “make a quilt in a weekend!” as quilting magazines are always encouraging one to do. It doesn’t sound like fun. With both novels and patchwork quilts, I enjoy the process as much as the end result. I make quilts from scraps, putting the different colors and prints together in a way I think is pleasing, and stitch by hand. This technique does not work well with the two or three color, rotary-cut method of speedy quilt construction. And I write the same way, letting the characters and story grow organically from the situation.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Kathleen: As I write this, I’m re-reading Mary Jo Putney’s Lost Lords series. Next in line is Donna Andrews’s cyber-sleuth mystery, You’ve Got Murder, followed by the third and fourth books in the series, Access Denied and Delete All Suspects. I came upon the second book, Click Here for Murder, and immediately went looking for the others.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Kathleen: I can’t decide between historical romance and historical mysteries.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Kathleen: Oh, dear. The mysteries of Louise Penny, Charles Todd, Anne Perry, Thomas Perry, Dick Francis/Felix Francis, Tony Hillerman, and Dorothy Sayers. The historical novels of Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin. The late Sarah Caudwell’s funny English legal novels. Science fiction/fantasy: the Harry Potter books, Lois McMaster Bujold, Mercedes Lackey, and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Georgian and Regency novels: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Eileen Dreyer, Lucinda Brant, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Grace Burrowes, Jane Aiken Hodge, and Sheri Cobb South. And those are just the major ones.
How often I reread them depends on whether I need something soothing, want polished prose and keen wit, an intricate plot, or a fun read. I might read the same book or series twice in a year, or once in five years. Over time, my list has changed, with some books dropped and others added. Good thing I have a lot of bookshelves.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Kathleen: I read historical romance pretty steadily, whether I’m writing or not, but I also read mysteries, historical fiction, fantasy/science fiction, and occasionally mainstream novels.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Kathleen: I’m retired, with a little flexible part-time job doing legal billing and Quickbooks for a former employer/friend, and write up to several hours per day.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Kathleen: People, whether readers or aspiring writers, often think writing a book is an easy way to make money and earn fame. I don’t think they ever think about the publishing industry as separate from the business (or hobby) of writing. Shoot, I don’t know what I think about the publishing industry, beyond the fact that the big brick-and-mortar publishers only accept submissions through agents. And with self-publishing and e-books, it’s a totally different game than it was twenty years ago.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Kathleen: The first thing is, sit down and write. No class or book will really teach you to write. In fact, I don’t believe they’ll do you any good until you’ve spent some time writing on your own. Then what they teach will start to make sense. Keep writing. Realize that a justified criticism of your story is not a personal attack on you, and that as an aspiring writer, many criticisms will be justified. You can’t improve unless someone points out the problems. And grammar and spelling count, as do errors of fact.
Please, if you self-publish, proofread at least twice, separated by at least a couple of weeks, and then have someone else whose spelling and grammar are above average proofread it as well.
Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?
Kathleen: The one I’m currently writing includes an arranged marriage and Ambrose Hawkins, a secondary character in Captain Easterday’s Bargain, being charged with murder.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Kathleen: I’d like to try writing a non-romance historical mystery. But I’ll have to wait for the right idea to come along.
Thanks for swinging by, Kathleen, and sharing your advice and insights! Best of luck with your next release, too.
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