Friday Night Drinks with… Kate Ryder

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It’s the final Friday of the month and January is almost over, thank goodness! Is it me or has this been a really long month? Anyway, that feels like something to celebrate, so I am delighted to be joined on the blog by tonight’s virtual drinking companion, author… Kate Ryder.

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Kate, glad you finally made it to my virtual bar! Thank you for joining me. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me to your Friday Night Drinks.  I have a penchant for gin, so I’ll have a glass of the curiously distilled, award-winning Wild Coast Gin from Curio Spirits; the small family business that creates craft spirits in their distillery on the Lizard peninsula, in Cornwall.  Made with Cornish spring water and quadruple-distilled with natural botanicals, including hand-foraged rock samphire from the Cornish cliffs, this tantalising spirit is smooth enough to drink neat, although I’ll have it with flavoured tonic water, please – possibly rhubarb or elderflower.

Sounds delicious. Gin is also my tipple of choice. I sadly failed at Dry January halfway through this year, which I only feel a tiny bit guilty about given current circumstances!  If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Having spent the day giving you a guided tour around the dramatically beautiful coastline of North Cornwall – the location for my latest book, Beneath Cornish Skies – I’d take you to the boutique hotel, The Beach at Bude.  Overlooking Summerleaze Beach, which is featured in the novel, the hotel enjoys striking views from its terraces.  Its buzzing Beach Bar, designed with industrial chic in mind, has a chrome-topped bar and a number of orange leather chairs with metal backing.  I have to warn you, though, there are often live performances on Fridays, so we’d have to speak up or find a secluded corner.  And we’d definitely have to try out the bar’s selection of decadent cocktails.  I’ll start with their Cornish mojito, which includes cider, brandy, mint, lime and a shot of Gabriel Boudier Crème de Cassis de Dijon!

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

We’d be drinking with the late actor, Alan Rickman, who had me from his performance in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’.  I’m sure he would have many a fascinating and interesting tale to tell.  From humble beginnings, despite becoming a household name as a successful, award-winning film and stage actor, he never seemed to lose his sense of perspective.  On my wish list is a copy of his collection of diary entries due to be published in 2022, which apparently give a fresh insight into his art and reveal the real Alan Rickman; funny, passionate and occasionally provocative.

The second person we’d be drinking with is the multi-award winning actress, Dame Helen Mirren.  I love that feisty woman.  Not only is she a hugely talented actress but also she doesn’t suffer fools and is not frightened of having strong opinions and speaking her mind.  She and Alan worked together on several occasions and, no doubt, they would provide us with an entertainingly lively and humorous evening.  Also, she was the inspiration for a character in my 2-part Romantic Suspense, Summer in a Cornish Cove, and its standalone sequel, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff.  I think she’d be highly amused to learn that!

Great choices, I adore Alan Rickman. He played some of the best characters ever seen on screen, and always nailed those one-liners! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m currently wearing my marketing hat for Beneath Cornish Skies.  People assume that writing a novel is the difficult part, but marketing and self-promotion rank way up there!  To date, my novels published with Aria are available as eBooks and POD.  However, the company has committed to printing my latest book as a traditional paperback, which will be available from April in major bookshops, including Waterstones, W H Smith and Foyles.  I plan to encourage local, independent bookshops to climb on board and, so, come early spring – if Covid rules allow – I will travel the full length and breadth of Cornwall and pay them all a visit.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was when I first received a physical copy of my debut novel, The Forgotten Promise.  Becoming a novelist has been a long-held dream, and one that took a significant milestone birthday to stir me into action and do something about it, otherwise it ran the risk of remaining simply “a dream”.  My editor accepted this novel as the third in my four-book contract.  With further editorial development, the book was retitled Secrets of the Mist.  I’m proud to say that not only did it reach #49 on Amazon Kindle but also it achieved #1 bestseller in Time Travel Romance in the UK, Canada and Australia.

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My biggest challenge has been finding the time to write.  Until late 2019 I worked full-time and, what with other commitments, this meant I had to snatch any spare moment to write.  Often, I was at the computer for a couple of hours at 2am!  Deadlines always make me feel panicky… but I discovered that by taking a deep breath, keeping my nerve and maintaining focus, I am able to meet them.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena?  Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

Several reviewers have stated my words conjure up vivid images and it’s as if they’re watching a film rather than reading a book.  Now, if my novels were discovered and turned into films… that would be really cool!

When I wrote my 2-part romantic suspense mini-series, I already knew which actor I would want in the lead role – Aidan Turner.  He was well-known to only a relatively few ardent fans at the time, but since then a well-received British historical drama television series, set on the windswept Cornish cliffs and based on Winston Graham’s recklessly heroic mine owner, Ross Poldark, has gained the tri-corn wearing star many more ardent supporters.

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What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

I’ve now fulfilled my contract with Aria and who knows what the future will bring!  I’ve always loved the unknown and its myriad of possibilities, and although a little scary it’s also exciting not knowing where my writing career will go.  I’m creative by nature and really enjoy the artistic control that comes with being an indie writer.  However, I realise the worth of having a publishing company behind you and the industry expertise that it brings to the table.  Hmmm… as they say, watch this space!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

During my late twenties I worked for a long-haul tour operator and I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to many exotic places.  However, I have a sister who lives in Australia and that country has a special place in my heart, and I’ve visited a handful of times.  She lives in Sydney, which I found vibrant and buzzing, filled with art galleries and museums, and, of course, the famous Opera House.  But, also, the wider country appeals to my love of the natural world and there are still many areas to discover on that continent.

On one visit we stayed on Brampton Island, which lies at the southern end of the world famous Whitsunday Passage.  Boasting a unique ecosystem and a diverse range of unexplored flora, fauna and birds, Brampton Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and considered a national park.  The island offered numerous nature walking tracks and a dozen world-renowned sun-drenched beaches with crystal clear blue waters covering coral reefs, home to an amazing array of marine life.  One memorable experience was, whilst snorkelling, a large and curious turtle kept us company for a good hour!  Since that visit, I understand the island has been sold and is currently closed; caught up in limbo and paperwork with talk of redevelopment to a 7-star world-class resort in the coming years.

So, Tasmania and New Zealand beckon…

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I’ve flown on Concorde and the captain invited me to the cockpit!

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Not knowing your preferred genre, that’s a tricky one.  Nevertheless, sticking with the mystical, slightly otherworldly theme that runs through Beneath Cornish Skies, I would recommend a writer that I’ve only recently discovered.  The front cover of Carol Lovekin’s Wild Spinning Girls captured my imagination with its potent imagery that so accurately depicts the novel.  It’s a gift of a story, wildly atmospheric and the incredible prose is poetry itself.  Carol has the gossamer touch, spinning words into magic, and I’m so looking forward to reading her other works.

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Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets off to Wales to the house her father has left her. But Heather, the young woman still in her teens whose home it was, keeps the house as a shrine to her late mother and is determined to scare Ida away. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time, and that any ghosts Ty’r Cwmwl harbours are of their own making. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

I have a copy of this book waiting patiently on my TBR. So many bloggers raved about it on publication last year. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I’ll force myself to drink loads of water before going to bed, and again in the morning to rehydrate.  If that doesn’t clear my head, I’ll have a cup of herbal ginger tea and then spend time outdoors in nature with my gorgeous Arab horse to blow away any lingering cobwebs.

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Your horse is beautiful! Mine is a bit stockier and less pretty, but I love him anyway! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Walking the cliffs with my husband and exploring secluded coves, followed by a quiet evening in, sharing the stories I’d heard during my night out with you, Alan and Helen!

Thank you for joining me tonight, Kate, I’ve had a really great evening and I wish you great success with your current book and future projects.

Kate’s latest book, Beneath Cornish Skies is a heart-warming love story about taking a chance on a new beginning.  Published as an eBook on 7 January 2021, available here, the paperback is scheduled for publication on 1 April and is available for pre-order now.

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To an outsider, Cassandra Shaw‘s life looks perfect. She lives in a beautiful, luxurious house in the English countryside with a handsome, wealthy boyfriend who insists she needn’t do a day’s work in her life. But Cassie knows that something is not right. Her boyfriend has grown colder, treating her more like a housekeeper than a future wife. And her time feels empty and purposeless.

Cassandra has always been riddled with insecurities and self-doubt, but, just for once, she decides to take a chance on a new beginning. She answers an advert for a live-in nanny, horse trainer, cook and all-round ‘Superhuman’ for a family living in a rambling manor house on the rugged North Cornish coast. The work is hard and tiring, but Cassie has never felt so fulfilled.

As Cassie learns to connect with the natural beauty unfolding around her, Cornwall starts to offer up its secrets. Soon, Cassie starts wondering if she was drawn to this isolated part of the coast for a reason. Why was she guided to Foxcombe Manor? What are the flashes of light she sees in the valley? Is it her imagination or does someone brush past her? And who is the mysterious man living deep in the woods?

A beautiful romance with a hint of ghostliness, Beneath Cornish Skies is for anyone who has ever longed to start their lives again.

Kate Ryder is an Amazon Kindle international best seller who writes timeslip and romantic suspense with a ‘true to life’ narrative.  On leaving school she studied drama but soon discovered her preference for writing rather than performing.  Since then, she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors, in 2017 Kate signed a 4-book contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus).

Summer in a Cornish Cove, a contemporary romantic suspense set on the Lizard Peninsula, saw her nominated for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award, while its standalone sequel, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, reached the heady heights of #2 in Kindle Literary Sagas.

Secrets of the Mist, a mysterious timeslip romance, was not only rated in the #top 50 on Amazon UK Paid Kindle but also achieved #1 Kindle best-selling status in the UK, Canada and Australia.  In its original, self-published version as The Forgotten Promise, it was awarded the very first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.

Her fourth book with Aria, Beneath Cornish Skies, is set on the wildly rugged north Cornish coast and tells the story of one woman’s journey in finding her true self.

Originally from the South East of England, today Kate lives on the Cornish side of the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.

You can find out more about Kate and her writing on her website, and via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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