SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH KATHARINE ASHE
Katharine Ashe is the best selling historical author of two trilogies. Her vivid writing and remarkable characters sweep the reader away into the past. How does she bring them to life and keep us enthralled?
As a fan of historical romances I couldn’t wait to find out what new books she has in store for her readers!
1) How did you get started writing romance? What do you think makes two characters meant for each other?
Katharine Ashe: I’ve written stories since I was a little bitty thing, at first about dogs and horses, then about girls. While I was researching my dissertation in graduate school I wrote my first full-length historical romance. As breaks from working in the archives I’d been gobbling up traditional Regencies, and my head was full of ideas for my own stories. So I wrote one. Then I wrote another. Then another. It was… addictive. History offers so few real Happily Ever Afters. While the intellectual endeavor of researching and writing non-fiction history was exciting — indeed invigorating — I longed for deep, emotional satisfaction. Writing historical romance gave me that.
What makes two characters meant for each other? A unique meeting of hearts, minds and souls as well as bodies. The ability of each character to grow and change, with complimentary strengths that help each other in this, gives that meeting longevity. My heroes and heroines also often share similar life challenges. In How to Be a Proper Lady, for example, Viola and Jin both suffered separation from their families at a young age, and this colors their lives and their love for each other. In my next novel, I Married the Duke, the hero and heroine are each scarred by their pasts and fiercely protective of their siblings.
In truth, though, there’s a powerful element of magic in real, true love that’s undefinable—a spark of miracle that goes far beyond physical attraction and can’t be explained through any social or scientific means. This spark always animates the love stories I write.
2) I love that spark! As a professor of European history, how authentic to you try to portray your characters? Do you do a lot or research?
Katharine Ashe: History in all its decadently rich complexity enthralls me. My plot ideas come directly from history books; I’ve never devised a plot or even a detail of a plot without first discovering it in a history book. That said, storytelling is not history-telling. I strive for historical authenticity in my plots and characters, yet I write for a modern audience, and the heartbeat and spirit of the story must come before all other considerations. The greatest and most popular storytellers of the western world — Virgil, Shakespeare, Dumas, and others — were not slaves to historical “facts” (which any professional historian knows are merely interpretations anyway). Instead, they made history serve them. For me, the history is not the romance. History is, rather, the sumptuous bed upon which I lay my characters down and allow their love to unfold.
3) I like how you word that! When you started out or even before you began writing did any authors make you feel you had to write, too? Do you have a couple favorites?!
Katharine Ashe: Right before I starting writing romance I was reading Umberto Eco and Dorothy Dunnett’s historical fiction. Their stories are intensely complex and vibrant with emotion, drama and adventure. Dunnett’s also include breathtaking, profound love stories. They’re also wicked smart authors—brilliant, really. When I’m reading a book I love to have my brain on fire at the same time my heart pounds and skin tingles. Eco and Dunnett remain favorites, but now I have favorite romance authors too, among them Liz Carlyle, Laura Kinsale and Rachel Gibson. Each time I read a novel by one of my favorites I’m filled with extra energy and excitement to write my books.
4) I love the idea of the Falcon Club- the heroes are sooo dashing! In addition to the three full length novels you have written two short novellas. How many books do you have planned for this series? Can you tell us how you were inspired to write this series?!
Katharine Ashe: The idea for my Falcon Club series sprang from my Captured by a Rogue Lord. At the beginning of that book, the hero speaks with the first lieutenant on his ship, Jin Seton. Within one line of Jin speaking I knew he had to have his own story. Then Kitty Savege, the hero’s heartbroken sister, demanded her own story too. Then Diantha Lucas, peeking irrepressibly out from behind a door, said “Me too!” And the Falcon Club was born, bringing together five unlikely friends secretly dedicated to a noble cause, no matter what the price they must personally pay.
I’ve two more Falcon Club novels in the works that will reveal the mysteries of the Club’s anonymous director and Lady Justice’s identity. I’m having so much fun working on these! “Ask Me to Dance” is a short story featuring characters in When a Scot Loves a Lady, book #1 of the Falcon Club. (“Ask Me to Dance” isn’t now available, but it will soon be a FREE READ on my website.) How to Marry a Highlander is my only novella in this series so far. But when characters pop up and demand their own stories, I always oblige, so who’s to say who’ll be next?
5) I notice you have written a book about a heroine who loves Gothic romance. I admit to having a weakness for them myself. What did you enjoy about writing Captive Bride? Will you write more books with a paranormal twist?!
Katharine Ashe: I adored writing Captive Bride. Peter and Bea had been asking me for their book for years, and it was wonderfully satisfying to write their friendship-turned-romance. My straight historical romances tend to be sweeping stories set in multiple (and occasionally exotic) locations, with complex plots and lavish casts of characters. Captive Bride is a simpler story, set in a single location and with a small cast. So writing it was a very different experience for me, and loads of fun, especially the paranormal twist. Lord Iversly, the medieval ghost with his mysteriously tragic past and tendency to do the noble thing at his own expense, absolutely deserves his own love story. I’ll definitely write it as soon as I find the time.
6) Oh, yes! I particularly enjoy the action and adventure in your books. Do you feel that you have to top them in your next book?
Katharine Ashe: Thank you! Each book is unique in the writing for me, the journey of each couple toward love dictating its own special dynamic. Adventure, intrigue, sensuality, emotion, drama, humor—all of these elements come according to what the characters need in order to reach their Happily Ever Afters. Above all, my greatest wish each time I write a book is to write a story I would love to read.
7) I have to ask, I noticed you have written a couple of Highlanders in your books, the last, in your novella, How to Marry a Highlander. What do you feel is the appeal of the Scotsman?
Katharine Ashe: Big, hunky, noble, tough, intensely loyal to his clan yet still slightly untamed… And that delectable accent… Oo la! We romance readers love the fantasy of the Scotsman, it’s true. I played with that in When a Scot Loves a Lady, in fact. The hero of that book is an exceedingly well-educated and cultured lord pretending to be a charming Scottish oaf. Naturally the Londonite spinster trapped by a snowstorm with him in a tiny country inn wants nothing to do with him… until she looks beneath — no! I’m not going to say his kilt! — until she looks beneath the surface — rather, until he allows her to see beneath the surface to the real man. It’s a story of how appearances can dangerously deceive, which is really what many of my books are about.
In How to Marry a Highlander, to the heroine, Teresa, the Earl of Eads is a larger-than-life fantasy. So of course she wants him. When she comes to know him, however, she learns a little something about true desire… and it doesn’t have anything to do with fantasy, rather with love.
8) Okay I know this is silly but if you could be a heroine in one of you books would you prefer a pirate, rake, or spy to sweep you off you feet! And why?
Katharine Ashe: A pirate. They’re honest about being bad, and honesty is crucial in any relationship. But the pirates in my books are all pretty unusual as pirates go: a vigilante anti-slaver disguised as a priest, a Robin Hood-style seafaring thief, and an ex-pirate atoning for the brutalities of his past. I’d want one of those sorts of noble pirates.
9) You must have new books planned! Can you please tell us about them? Any new series in the works?!
Katharine Ashe: Yes, and I’m so excited. My Prince Catchers series debuts on August 27 with I Married the Duke. Three orphaned sisters have nothing from their past but a priceless ruby ring and a fortuneteller’s promise that if one of them marries a prince they’ll learn the truth of who they are. When the beautiful middle sister, Arabella, sets off after a prince in a fairytale castle only to find herself in the power of an exasperatingly irresistible ship captain and up to her ears in danger, she’s realizes it’s either sink or swim. But, oh, what an adventure swimming turns out to be!
Readers can find excerpts from I Married the Duke and all my books on my website www.KatharineAshe.com . I hope they’ll visit me on facebook www.facebook.com/KatharineAsheAuthor and twitter www.twitter.com/KatharineAshe too.
10) Thank you! It has been such a pleasure. :) I am so honored to have the opportunity to interview you!
Katharine Ashe: Many thanks, Steph! The honor has been all mine.
Interviewed by Steph from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club
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Recent and Upcoming Romances by Katharine Ashe
How to Marry A Higlander- novella -July 30th, 2013
I Married the Duke – August 27th, 2013
How a Lady Weds a Rogue -Sept. 25th, 2012
Beautiful Diantha Lucas understands society’s rules: a young lady must find a man to marry. But Diantha has a bigger goal and she’s not afraid of plunging into adventure to achieve it. When daring, dashing Wyn Yale rescues her, she’s certain he’s just the man she needs.
As an agent for the secret Falcon Club, Wyn knows his duty, but he’s not about to admit he’s a hero of any sort. He has a plan too: steal a prized horse, murder an evil duke, avenge an innocent girl, and probably get hung for it—in that order. Wyn can’t afford to be distracted by a pretty face, even one with delectable dimples and kissable lips. But how can a country miss and hardened spy solve their problems when they can’t keep their hands off each other?
How to Be a Proper Lady -June 26th, 2012
The rules of being a proper lady
1) Never take steps greater than six inches apart
2) Never look boldly at a gentleman
3) And never, ever kiss a man who is not your fiancee…
But beautiful, bold Viola Carlyle doesn’t care about the rules. And she desperately wants to kiss the notoriously tempting Captain Jin Seton, the man who brought her kicking and fighting back to English society. Kidnapped as a child, now she longs to return to that life of freedom where she was able to live—and love—as she wished.
Having hunted Viola for two years, Jin Seton has finally found his good luck—for by finding Viola his oldest, deepest debt will at last be paid. And although he has vowed not to let her win his heart, this very improper lady might finally be the one who tames him.