I'm delighted to welcome back a Lair favourite - the fabulous Kate Walker. We always have so much fun with Kate and I know today will be no different.
So without further ado, here's Kate
It’s so good to be back in the lair with the Banditas – it feels like I’ve never been away.
No – honestly. It really does. Have you had one of those years? One where you’re sure someone has got hold of the timing mechanism on the days and has wound it up so hard and so tight that spinning at speed and there’s this ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ feeling about everything.
This year has seemed like that. I’ve been celebrating 25 years as a published author. I hit a milestone birthday ( I was a child author so you’ll not be surprised that I’m now hitting 30 – again!) I’m sure it was only two seconds ago when I was hugging Anna S for real in the burning heat of the summer at the RNA Conference (and it was hot wasn’t it Anna? Extremely, and with no air conditioning too! Anna) Now the scene outside my window is cool and wet and foggy – all the things that make it a real autumn (or Fall) day.
But around this time I start to think in terms of a New Year, much more than in January. January is too bleak and cold and dark (well, it is here in Lincolnshire). And October with its new term, new school year appeals much more. So it’s sort of appropriate that right now I’m rounding off the celebrations for my 25th year in publishing and looking forward to the new and 26th year of this writing career of mine.
And things have changed so much since my very first book ever (The Chalk Line) was published in 1984. The covers for one thing. When I had my first book out the covers were just picked from a selection the Art Department had in stock , not commissioned for the book itself. Which is why my black haired, rough-edged hero turned into a smooth, sleek blond! Last month Mills & Boon started bringing out their new look covers and they are very different. Unfortunately I don’t have a new cover on any of my titles yet (that will come in March ’11) but I’m looking forward to seeing it. But I have to say that I do love the cover for my latest book – The Good Greek Wife? It represents the story well too, with the big carved bed and the sea out beyond the room. They’re both very important in the story.
I said this book was different – so why is that? Well, for one it’s my first book with one of the new-style titles. M&B Have published their last Greek Billionaire’s Blackmailed Amnesiac Virgin (Did you hear the cheers back in the summer when editorial announced it? That really brightened up every author’s day, I can tell you.) Secondly, this book is the result of something of a challenge.
My editor rang me up one day and said she hoped I’d like to write a book for a brand-new mini series they were planning. A series of books based on the stories of the ancient Greek Myths, bringing them right up to date and modernising them. I really wanted to be involved but first I had to find the right story to bring modernise. Weren’t all Greek Myths about monsters and battles and sword fights? But then I remembered the story of Odysseus. A man who goes missing for years and whose wife waits at home, never knowing if he is coming back or not. That was just the inspiration I needed.
And that’s the reason why this title has that intriguing question mark at the end . I have to keep remembering to put it in as I’m always tempted to write just The Good Greek Wife, with no ? And that’s something very different. Because the story of The Good Greek Wife? (I remembered that time) is one of two people who don’t really know each other well enough. They married in haste, in a red haze of passion, and were just beginning to learn about each other when tragedy struck and tore them apart. For years Penny believed that her husband was dead but now he’s back . . . and she doesn’t know if he’s the man she married. Or have the years in between and all that he’s been through changed him – for better or for worse? Zarek, her husband, needs to get to know his wife too, all over again. But has she waited for him faithfully, like Penelope, Odysseus’ wife in the old legend - or has she sided with his enemies, to take over his company? Is she still – or does she still want to be – a Good Greek Wife?
I loved writing this book – it was as I said, a real challenge. And it involved some heavy duty research - like watching the movie Troy once or twice (Brad Pitt, Eric Bana . . it’s a tough job, research!) It was as I was writing this story that I got a new insight into why Harlequin romances are so consistently popular and have been for so long. The emotions and the passions that the authors write about are truly the ‘classic’ emotions - feelings that are as old as time and never change fundamentally, no matter what era or place the book is set in. Whether the hero is an ancient Greek warrior or a Modern Greek Billionaire, the central core of the story – that love conquers all – is always essentially the same. And that’s what makes a classic love story. And a classic love-story is what I hope I've created in A Good Greek Wife?
And I’m so happy to have this book to round off the celebrations for my 25th year as a romance writer. I’m ending this special year on some very happy notes. There’s the publication of A Good Greek Wife? and I just got the news that the book has actually sold out since it was published over here in the UK. So I really hope that it has the same success when it appears in Presents Extra in America. Another sell-out book has been my second edition of the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance. My publisher tells me there isn’t a single copy left in the warehouse and he’s busy reprinting a 3rd edition which will hopefully be out at the end of this month. I have a new book coming out in March and right now I’m just finishing a new story – another of those ‘challenge’ books ready for another series coming out next year.
It’s been a great 25 years and I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next. And to round of this year I’m running a big contest over on my web site (www.kate-walker.com). This time I’m giving away not just a couple of prizes but 25 prize giveaways, one to mark each year of publication. I can tell you that Sid the Cat who of course helps me pick all the winners to my contests is feeling pretty happy at the thought of having to choose 25 cat crunchies to give me the names of my winners. Of course so that he can do this, I'll need at the very least 25 entries. So I hope you’ll come along and enter. But just for the Romance Bandits I have a special giveaway - I have two signed copies of The Good Greek Wife? and one of my special Kate Walker tote bags to give away to someone who comments today.
Just tell me if you had to modernise a story and turn it into a modern romance – which one would you choose? Would it be another Greek myth – or one of the fairy tales and fables? Or perhaps a tale from Shakespeare or even a nursery rhyme? You never know – you might inspire yourself – or me!
I’ll try to drop in and chat with you as often as I can but I’m travelling today – teaching a workshop in Halifax (that’s Halifax West Yorkshire, not Halifax Nova Scotia) at the weekend and I’m doing a series of 1to1s today. But I’ll hope to connect with the internet – and you all – along the way.