Name Catherine Kullmann
Where are you from
I was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, I moved to Germany where I lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. We have now been married for over forty years and have three adult sons and two grandchildren. I have worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector but took early retirement some years ago.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel The Murmur of Masks was published at the end of July and is available on Amazon as e-book and paperback.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
From the day I wrote my first ‘composition’ at primary school I have loved writing but, between the demand of work and family, it was only after my retirement that I was able to follow my lifelong dream of writing fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At my first meeting of the Irish Chapter of the Historical Novel Society. Talking about my writing made it real.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The need to discover what happens next, what comes after the happy end.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I do not write a pastiche of an early nineteenth century novel but am very aware of language and meticulous about using it as it would have been used during that period.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
With the Murmur of Masks, it was only after the book was finished and I saw the underlying theme
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No. I hope readers will take something from the book, but what it is will depend on them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I am sure that all writers subconsciously bring their own experiences into their work. I work hard to ensure that the historic background is correct and that my characters behave authentically in their period. I also wish to make their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Novelists who influenced me include Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Georgette Heyer to whom all ‘regency writers’ owe so much, and Dorothy Sayers. In Gaudy Night, when her heroine, who is also an author, is faced with writing a very tricky letter, she has her ask herself, “Why can’t I write a straightforward piece of English on a set subject?” This question makes the heroine identify the real reason for her difficulties. Once she realises what the problem is, she is able to deal with it. This is excellent advice for all writers.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest
In recent years I have discovered urban fantasy and particularly enjoy the books of Patricia Briggs and Nalini Singh.
and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t really pick a favourite author. I enjoy a novel that is well-written, credible, including the suspension of disbelief, gripping and that lingers in my mind after I have finished it.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I intend to keep on writing as long as I can
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Before writing came reading. I always loved stories and remember my mother making them up for us. As far back as I can remember I have enjoyed writing and the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“Arabella was bored at home. She was no longer a debutante but an adult woman and there was no longer a role for her here. If only she were a boy! Roderick had left Eton and would go up to Oxford at the commencement of the Easter term. Julian and Matthew would accompany him and see him established. It was so unfair. He was only seventeen but already allowed to make his own way in the world. Matthew came and went as he pleased; he had spent most of last winter at home but that was only because of Arthur—generally he was away hunting or shooting or whatever it was gentlemen did outside the Season.
Why was it that the only way a young lady could escape her parent’s house was through marriage? Not that she wanted to ‘escape’ her parents precisely; she loved her family very much and the three generations lived together very harmoniously. But at present she felt as if she were waiting for her real life to begin. She was ready to take charge of her own household but, unless she wanted to end up an old maid like Aunt Agatha, she must marry before she could establish it. And marriage was not without its dangers. A wife was a ‘feme-covert’ a woman whose very being or legal existence was suspended and incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband. All she owned would become his—she would become his in the eyes of the law. Mamma had explained it very carefully before her first Season.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Growing the story. It usually starts from a small seed like ‘what if?’ or ‘what then?’ and takes a lot of nurturing.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
For writers of historical fiction, the most important journeys are those of the mind. My husband and I travel a lot but rarely specifically for my work. However, I love visiting historical sites, museums, old towns and period houses and everything is grist to a writer’s mill. Dublin has a wonderful Georgian core. I went to school on one Georgian square and later worked on another and the memory of those houses—their long flights of stairs with returns and return rooms, the sash-windows, the basements and coal-holes under the pavement—stays with me as much as the straight lines of Yeats’s ‘grey, eighteenth-century houses’.
I haunt antique shops, second-hand book shops, book fairs and flea markets and have built up a considerable research and reference library as well as a collection of prints and engravings. We tend not to think of the Regency in pictorial terms, or perhaps only of architectural prints, but in fact there was a roaring trade in hand-coloured engravings, lithographs etc. that covered everything from fashion to the most scurrilous gossip of the day. The internet is a wonderful facility and I have an ever-growing file of historical facts and trivia. I draw on all this to create a sense of time and place
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I chose the cover image, obtained permission to use it and passed it to my agent
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Some days it is hard to get going.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I could do it and that I loved doing it.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I have no preferences.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stick at it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy my books
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Bowes Inheritance by Pam Lecky
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m sure I read others before it, but the first one that I remember is What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I cried my eyes out when Katy fell out of the swing and broke her back.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
See above. I laughed out loud at Gerald Durrell’s books.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
My mother. She died far too young.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I have no preferences and it does not matter if I don’t have a headstone. I would like to be remembered with love but that is all.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Reading of course, opera, ballroom dancing, good food and wine, travel
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
At the moment we’re enjoying the weekly broadcasts of the BBC proms.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
French or Greek food / blue / opera
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
On balance, I would not go back and change my life in order to have begun writing sooner. I am very happy where I am now.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is www.catherinekullmann.com
My Facebook page is fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor
All purpose Amazon link: www.bookgoodies.com/a/B01IVY3GCU
(It takes you to the amazon of your country.)