In the wake of the latest fantastic RNA Conference, it’s time to chat a bit more about romance writing with my latest love scribe, author… Catherine Kullmann.
Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.
My novels are set in the extended Regency period, between 1803 and 1830, but mainly during the Regency itself (1811-1820). They are set against a background of the offstage Napoleonic wars and focus on how these wars affected the women left behind and who frequently had to fend for themselves with a patriarchal system.
There are two aspects to romance, I think. One is the fairy-tale one that takes us out of ourselves, assures us that everything will get better and promises us a happy end and happy-ever-after with the love of our lives. This is the romance that we get to know first, as children. As adults we still return to it, to escape from our mundane lives or help us get through a bad patch.
The other aspect is the love story. What is it that makes us choose that person and no other? In getting to know them, we must also get to know ourselves. A love story is the process of creating one out of two, in forging a new union. It is something that happens every day, everywhere and yet each one is unique.
What inspires your stories?
Frequently just a simple “what if?’ or ‘what happened then?’ I like to take my stories further, explore what happened after the first ‘happy end’, as in Perception & Illusion. In The Murmur of Masks, I asked myself ‘what if a marriage of convenience does not turn into a love match?’ My novels are all set in the same world, and some characters take on a life of their own, like the Duchess of Gracechurch who has her own book in The Duke’s Regret. One sentence in Perception & Illusion had me write The Murmur of Masks. Lallie and Olivia are at a masquerade. Lallie goes home at midnight, Olivia stays. I wanted to know what happened then.
Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?
For regency, Georgette Heyer who created the genre and the late Jo Beverly who sadly left us far too soon. Nalini Singh writes excellent paranormal/urban fantasy romance. Shapeshifters, angels and vampires are a refreshing change after I have spent the day immersed in the Regency world.
If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?
Frederica by Georgette Heyer
Vernon Alverstoke sees no reason to put himself out for anyone.
But when a distant connection asks for help, he is quickly plunged into one drama after another by the disorderly Merriville family.
Surprisingly, he finds himself far from bored – especially when he encounters their strong-minded daughter, Frederica.
However, she seems far more concerned with her family’s welfare than his romantic advances…
Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?
The Marquis of Alverstoke, the hero of Frederica. Assuming it is after 1816, we would drive in his curricle to his secluded shooting lodge where we would be undisturbed except for the discreet servants who would provide delicious meals whenever we wanted them. If we had longer, for we must allow for Regency travel times, we would take his yacht to France and on to Paris where we would have a beautiful first floor apartment on the île Saint-Louis.
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?
My favourite thing is the camaraderie. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. I gained most from my membership in the NWS. My writing was all over the place, and my first reader gave me pages of most helpful advice but, most importantly, said ‘you have a voice’. That encouraged me to keep going.
What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?
See if you can get a place in the NWS.
Tell us about your most recent novel.
My latest novel is A Comfortable Alliance, set in 1821/22. You can buy a copy here.
Six years ago, Helena Swift’s fiancé was fatally wounded at Waterloo. Locking away all dreams of the heart, she retreated to a safe family haven. On the shelf and happy to be there, Helena has perfected the art of deterring would-be suitors.
Will, Earl of Rastleigh, is the only son of an only son: marriage is his duty. One of the great prizes of the marriage market, he shies away from a cold, society union. While he doesn’t expect love, he seeks something more comfortable. But how to find the woman who will welcome him into her life and her bed, and be a good mother to their children?
When Will meets Helena, he is intrigued by her composure, her kindness and her intelligence. As their friendship develops, he realises he has found his ideal wife, if only he can overcome her well-known aversion to matrimony
Will succeeds in slipping past Helena’s guard. Tempted by the thought of children of her own, and encouraged by her mother to leave the shallows where she has lingered so long, she accepts his offer of a marriage based not on dangerous love but affectionate companionship and mutual respect.
But is this enough? As Will gets to know his wife better, and the secrets of her past unfold, he realises that they have settled for second-best. Can he change the basis of their marriage? Will Helena risk her heart and dare to love again?
About the Author
Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.
Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society.
Catherine also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era.
Connect with Catherine:
Facebook: Catherine Kullmann Author