I’d love to take a road trip to visit my next guest! Please help me welcome author Katerina Dunne! She lives in a beautiful country I’d go back to in a heartbeat… Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her and her writing process.
Katerina Dunne is the pen-name of Katerina Vavoulidou. Originally from Athens, Greece, Katerina has been living in Ireland since 1999. She has a degree in English Language and Literature, an MA in Film Studies and an MPhil in Medieval History. While she used to write short stories for family and friends in her teenage years, she only took up writing seriously in 2016-17, when she started work on her first novel.
Katerina’s day job is in financial services, but in her free time she enjoys watching historically-themed movies and TV series. She is passionate about history, especially medieval history, and her main area of interest is 13th to 15th century Hungary. When it comes to historical fiction, her favourite authors include Elizabeth Chadwick, Kate Innes, Christian Cameron and Bán Mór (the Hungarian author of the Hunyadi series of books) Although the main characters of her stories are fictional, Katerina uses real events and personalities as part of her narrative in order to bring to life the fascinating history of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, a location and time period not so well-known to English-speaking readers.
Author Social Links: Facebook * Goodreads * Amazon
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Katerina: It all started because of my love for medieval history and my great interest in Hungary. This story was inspired by the border lords of the fifteenth-century Kingdom of Hungary. These men of middle and lower nobility were the backbone of the feudal armies of the period. Very few of them made it into the chronicles and history books. Their lives must have been hard; a constant struggle to run their own estates and protect them from the relentless Ottoman raiding as well as from attacks by other local lords while also leaving home for long periods to campaign with the king and his barons.
Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?
Katerina: I am completely new to writing, so I learned and developed many skills. Probably the most important ones would be understanding the POV of a scene and the elements of showing (as opposed to telling) This last technique was the most difficult because I was fresh from my academic studies, where the writing style is completely different.
Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?
Katerina: I think the hardest part was “embedding” my fictional main characters into the real historical events. Their interactions with real life personalities were the products of my imagination, but I had to base them on research of primary and secondary sources so that they appear realistic and appropriate.
Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?
Katerina: I suppose my protagonist and his wife because they play the major roles in the story. I created them with many flaws and shortcomings, and so I had to delve a little deeper into their personalities in order to bring forth their development journey.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
Katerina: Primary sources for the actual historical events (battles, politics, etc.) and the timeline. Secondary sources which provide analysis of these events from a scholarly perspective and also an overview of the social, political, economic and cultural life of the time.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Katerina: Too many. I have lost count!
Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?
Katerina: It took me nearly six years because I am not a full-time writer. I have day job, and I also spent one year doing my MPhil in Medieval History in-between. I also worked with two editors and a number of alpha and beta readers and did so many revisions. I hope that my future novels will not take such a long time as I now have a better idea of the writing craft as well.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Katerina: I am not sure if that is considered a ritual or habit, but before I write a scene, I visualize it, even rehearse it in my head as if I am part of it. This helps me put myself in my characters’ minds, speak their words and feel their emotions.
Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?
Katerina: There are too many I think! “as if”, “suddenly”, “only”, “said”, “asked” to name a few which I later revised.
Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?
Katerina: I admire a number of historical fiction writers, mostly those writing medieval historical fiction. I enjoy the novels of Elizabeth Chadwick and Kate Innes, but I try to learn a little bit from every book I read.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
Katerina: It may sound strange, but I do most of my writing and revising in bed, on my laptop. It just makes me feel very comfortable and relaxed.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
Katerina: I work in the financial services full time. It’s a hard job requiring a lot of attention to detail. I can’t say I enjoy it, but I think it’s an OK job, and it pays the mortgage and the bills. It also gives me the financial security to engage in my writing without having to worry about how many books I sell.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Katerina: Definitely the publishing of my debut novel, Lord of the Eyrie.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Katerina: Historical fiction.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Katerina: I think the satisfaction of completing a novel and publishing it is the most important thing. The feeling of creating a story that people can relate to, and of seeing my work out there in the outside world. The comments of the readers who appreciated the novel are great encouragement as well.
Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary, 1440:
Finally home after five years away, warrior-nobleman Sándor Szilágyi is met by a dying father, a resentful younger brother, his child-bride all grown up and the family estate raided by the Ottomans. As he struggles to adjust to life as a landlord, Sándor’s authority is challenged by two strong-minded and fearless women: Margit, his faithful and righteous wife, determined to keep him on the straight and narrow; and Anna, his sister-in-law, a scheming temptress bent on ruining him in order to take his land.
After committing a mortal sin and desperate to win back the woman he loves, Sándor seeks absolution by accepting his overlord’s summons to fight the Ottomans. But his obsession with war will lead him down a perilous path.
Loyalties are tested, danger lurks around every corner, and Sándor’s struggle to balance his duty to protect his land and family from his relatives’ greedy hands, as well as his duty to defend his country on the battlefield, will come at a terrible cost.
Buy Links: AmazonUK * Amazon * B&N * BookDepository
You’re right that I don’t know anything about that time period, so I’ll add your story to my TBR. Thanks, Katerina, for stopping by and sharing your story with us!
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! And as always, happy reading!
Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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