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FOLLOW THE HEART: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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How long did it take to write?

    I came up with the story idea in August 2010 and wrote up a proposal which my agent started pitching. In January 2011, I wrote three sample chapters at the request of a few publishers. But I didn’t write any more than that until August 2011 when I signed the contract with B&H. I turned the manuscript in the first week of May 2012. So it was almost two years from concept to completion, but about nine months of actual focused writing.

How did you get into the mindset/history of the era?

    I had a basic knowledge of the mid-19th Century in England through studying both history and literature in college. But I really started learning about it in earnest when I became fascinated with the Great Exhibition several years ago and decided it would make a great backdrop to a series. I tend to first start getting into an era by watching costume-drama adaptations of novels written or set during that time and in that location. In this case—lots of Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell, and lots of bio-pics about Queen Victoria’s early life/rule. Can it get any better? Being able to watch North & South and The Young Victoria over and over and over again and call it “research”? Then I start reading the books on which those movies are based. I “collect” interesting words and turns of phrase, look for methods and manners to behavior and social interaction, get a feel for the way the English language was used by those who knew it best during that time. I also find nonfiction research books that can explain the household, society, gender politics, travel modes, fashion, etc.

What interests you most about the Victorian era?

    I love that it still has the sensibility of the Regency era—from the activities like balls and dinners to the formality of courting customs—yet in 1851, the world is on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution: train and steamboat travel, telegraph, indoor plumbing (“retiring/refreshing rooms” with pay toilets at the Great Exhibition!). I also love that women were starting to come into their own a bit more. Still not considered equals, but at least starting to get some recognition for their contributions and accomplishments in society.

Which character in this book is most like you?

    I’d probably have to say Kate, though, and not just because we share the same full first name. Like Kate, I tend to take on a lot of responsibility and feel obligated to do things because I think it’s my duty. I don’t want to disappoint others, so I’ll work myself literally into a sickbed rather than delegate or let something slide.

Why did you choose to set this series in Oxford, when the Great Exhibition took place in London?

    I read at least three or four British-set historical romances each month—and without fail, the majority of them are set in London. It’s a setting that has become over-exposed. Also, with a landscape architect as my main hero, I needed the action to take place at a country house, not in the city. By the 1850s, Oxford was a large enough city to have railway service to all of the other major cities, but still quaint/small enough to give the small-town feel that I love to use in my stories. Plus, there was a lot of chaos happening in London in early 1851 due to the final preparations for the Great Exhibition, and I felt like that could overwhelm what I wanted my story and settings to be.

Readers, what questions do you have about this book or this series? Questions about the characters, the setting, the Great Exhibition—all are welcome!

On May 1, I will be giving away FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart.

Beginning Monday, April 15, 2013, and ending Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on the background and inspiration for the Great Exhibition series and Follow the Heart. Each comment you leave on every post between 4/15/13 and 4/30/13 will earn you a name in the “hat” for the drawing. (Posts will be closed to new comments after 24 hours, so be sure to check in daily—subscribe via email above, or check my Twitter or Facebook page, as each new post gets announced there, too—for the latest post to comment on.)

Comment early, comment often!

10 Comments
  1. Dora permalink
    Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:19 am

    If I understand you, correctly, the main portions of the books are set on a “country” estate. I had the pleasure to visit Christ Church, at Oxford, last September. The views and architecture are amazing. Having said all of that, I wonder how “near” the estate would have been to the university? I have a greater understanding of the settings having been to the area, while I understand that the 2012 vistas are understandably not what the 1851 vistas would have been. However, the most of the buildings I toured would have been there.

    Are any of the “students” involved in the series? What exposure would persons in and near Oxford have had to those scholars?

    • Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:26 am

      I actually kept the colleges (as the “university” was actually several entities) out of the series, for the most part. Just as I did with the Matchmakers series, in which I kept the music business out of my stories set in Nashville, I kept the most obvious “industry” of Oxford as far in the background as I could get it, focusing, instead, on its status as a small-but-growing city. Just as not everyone who lives in Nashville is involved in the music industry, not everyone who lived in/around Oxford was involved with the university.

      Wakesdown, the estate of Sir Anthony Buchanan, is a separate parish from Oxford city–well outside the city walls and the spread of the suburbs. It is a true “country” estate.

      • Dora permalink
        Thursday, April 18, 2013 1:20 pm

        I was amazed by the landscape of England. Most of it still looks like “little cities” surrounded by a lot of “country estates.” I was very beautiful.

  2. Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:47 am

    Hi Kaye, I love reading about the history of your books. Thanks for sharing your process with us. I feel like I have so much to learn most of the time.

  3. Emma permalink
    Thursday, April 18, 2013 4:57 pm

    I haven’t read much set in the Victorian Era, so I am really excited to read this. It is such a fascinating time, so I don’t know why I haven’t read more about it! And I know next to nothing about the Great Exhibition, so I thrilled to learn more about it through your book!

  4. Amber permalink
    Friday, April 19, 2013 1:59 am

    How many books will be in this series? And do you prefer writing contemporary novels or historical ones? Thanks for sharing!

  5. Friday, April 19, 2013 7:37 am

    This is a wonderful read, Kate! I usually don’t read romance, but the chance to see how you’ve set up Oxford for your setting and see what choices Kate makes has me hooked. Looking forward to this one! (smile)

  6. Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:32 am

    Kate, as always I cannot WAIT to read your upcoming book. I love the little glimpses that you have been giving to us – both on your inspiration for the characters and also your thoughts in writing the series.

  7. Deonna permalink
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 8:33 am

    I can not wait for this book to get here! :) I love the pictures & being able to visualize your characters. Thanks for all the insights & info. It makes the stories seem so much more real.

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