Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Kate: Hello, Fiona. Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. My name is Kate Ryder and I’ve reached the age when – if I was an actress – I would knock off at least 10 years!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Kate: I was born in Middlesex, UK, but spent my formative years in Surrey. I lived for a smattering of years in a cottage in Sussex with views of the South Downs before swapping South East England for Cornwall (Poldark country).
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie. your education, family life, etc.).
Kate: The only subjects that truly captured my attention at school were English and Art, and on several occasions I was asked to stand in front of the class and read out my latest short story or poem. I left school at 16 to study acting. However, although it was an interesting experience and broadened my horizons, I quickly realised I preferred writing plays rather than performing them.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Kate: My latest news is truly exciting and a total surprise! My time-slip romance, SECRETS OF THE MIST, was published on 19 September 2019. Almost 4 months to the day, it was ranked #1 in 3 different Amazon UK categories and achieved a No. 1 Best Seller’s Flag.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Kate: When I was a child/young adult I could be found either buried deep in a book or with a pen and notebook in hand. Initially I wrote poems, no doubt full of teenage angst, but then I progressed to short stories. I clearly recall rewriting the ending to Frenchman’s Creek because Daphne du Maurier’s words were too hard to bear!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Kate: Even though I can now officially call myself an award-winning, best-selling author, I still catch myself feeling a bit of a fraud! However, recently I had an appointment at the opticians and I noticed that my occupation was registered on my client record as ‘writer’ – that made me sit up a bit straighter!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Kate: In 2001, my husband and I moved from Sussex to Cornwall to restore a 200-year-old cottage. It had to be gutted and taken back to four walls – I lived on a building site for four years! During the extensive renovations we discovered a time capsule, hidden by a previous owner. This sparked my imagination and made me consider past occupants and the lives they may have led over the preceding two centuries. The seeds were sown for my first book during a chance conversation with an acquaintance who told me about a Dartmoor cottage she once owned that had an unusual internal stained-glass window, unaccountable cold corners and a shadowy presence. At the time I was a member of a local writers’ group and I wove all these elements into a short story, which I read out to my fellow writers at the next workshop. All were eager to find out what happened next, so I decided to see where the story took me. Three months and 85,000 words later, I had a novel!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Kate: I originally self-published the story as The Forgotten Promise, which is essentially what the tale is about – a promise forgotten over the centuries. I was thrilled when the book received one of the first Chill with a Book ‘Book of the Month’ awards. When I secured a publishing deal with Aria, the book was accepted (with further time-slip development) as the third of my four-book contract. As always with self-published works, a change of tile was suggested and Secrets of the Mist was agreed upon, which I was more than happy with.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Kate: I tend to write fiction with a strong romantic element and main characters that are both audacious and altruistic. My work, to date, spans the genres of Contemporary, Romantic Suspense and Time-slip but, being drawn to the psyche’s darker, more complex hidden corners, it doesn’t take too much imagination to envision writing a Psychological Drama.
I have written in both first person and third, and past tense. My latest novel is written in the first person and present tense, which I found an interesting experience. It will be interesting to see what my editor’s take is on it! To date, the main challenge I’ve had is finding the time to write, as up until October 2019 I worked full-time. However, that has now changed and I’m looking forward to a more balanced future in which I can write without the pressure of other commitments.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Kate: Both before and during! I thoroughly enjoy researching a novel and this often necessitates visiting the area in which the book is set. Being in situ allows me to absorb the atmosphere and get a sense of place. For instance, with Secrets of the Mist, when considering where to set the book, my only criteria was that it had to be a hamlet with a village green. Memories of childhood holidays spent fossil hunting along the bay at Charmouth took me to Dorset where serendipity played its part. Due to roadworks, I was forced to follow a detour that took me to Walditch and whilst researching the village and the surrounding areas, I discovered historic events on which to pin the story. Most of the historical elements are a true account, although I have exercised the writer’s ‘right’ to fictionalise with a slight tweak of location to fit the tale.
Once back at my desk, I use Ordnance Survey/Google to double-check. However, it’s important to ensure your characters’ actions/journeys are possible and nothing beats being in the setting. For instance, in my latest novel (recently submitted to Aria and due for publication in September 2020) I had the heroine sitting in her vehicle in the public car park and watching surfers in the sea. But, on visiting the location, I found this wasn’t possible; a building blocks the view of the beach. After a hasty rewrite the heroine now sits at a table in the beach café – which enjoys uninterrupted sea views – whilst indulging in coffee and cake. She didn’t complain!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kate: One of Aria’s designers, Charlotte Abrams-Simpson, has done a brilliant job in creating a lovely cover. Not only has she incorporated elements from the narrative but also she has given it a softly haunting feel, which is totally appropriate for the story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Kate: All my books have conflict based upon following the crowd/doing what’s expected of you versus following your heart/intuition. I suppose my message to readers is that it’s ok to branch out, trust in your instincts and forge your own path.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Kate: During the past couple of years, I have been knee-deep in writing and, consequently, have an ever-growing (and groaning) TBR list! I’ve discovered many new authors but the following two novels have memorable stories, which will remain with me for a long time:
Julie Cohen’s Together is both brave in construction and content. It has the most gorgeous cover and won the 2018 Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year.
Amanda Jenning’s The Cliff House, which I loved. Amanda is excellent at keeping underlying tension alive and she perfectly captured the atmosphere of the area in which the book is set.
My favourite writer is William Boyd – his writing can always be relied upon. Brazzaville Beach will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a book that made me forget I was reading. Instead, I believed I was in the story along with Hope Clearwater, the leading protagonist, living her experiences and sharing her feelings. After I’d finished the book, I was left feeling dizzy that the written word could do that!
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Kate: When I first moved to Cornwall I had a weekly stall in our local, moorland market town’s pannier market. I became good friends with a fellow stall holder (who had been a drama teacher) and she was extremely encouraging. In fact, she became my beta reader. I would write the next chapter during quiet times in the market and pass it to her for critical review. She kept my resolve firm when I doubted the story would ever reach publication.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Kate: I would like to think so. However, I have a strong belief in variety being the spice of life and, for the past 15 years I have sold complementary health products for people and animals at fairs and on the internet. I see no reason why this shouldn’t continue… alongside writing, of course!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Kate: That’s an interesting question. With Secrets of the Mist my editor suggested I changed/added to the original story. As The Forgotten Promise it was my debut novel and, therefore, my ‘baby’. I believed I would be very protective of it and not want to change anything but, as it turned out, it was a wonderful experience. It felt as if I was reconnecting with dear old friends who I hadn’t seen for a while and discovering more about them.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Kate: When I first wrote the book I had a very clear idea who I’d like to play the leads – Orla Brady and Jon Bon Jovi. Sadly, they are now too old to play characters in their 30’s. I believe Sam Heughan (Outlander) could portray Nick/Nat very well (if he could pull off a soft Dorset accent) and Sarah Greene (The Dublin Murders) could easily play the part of Maddie/Mary, as she’s naturally in possession of a gentle Irish lilt!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Kate: For new writers I would say have belief in your abilities and never give up. Publishing is a huge journey and when starting out you tend to be impatient for results. My advice is to take a deep breath and go with the flow, whilst never taking your eye off the bigger picture. If you write romance, join the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, which offers invaluable advice and support.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Kate: I’ve just read The Tuscan Secret by Angela Petch (a fellow member of the RNA) which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s based around a watermill in the Tuscan mountains and is a stunning tale, inspired by true events, about how the tragic consequences of war can echo through the generations, and how love can guide us through the darkest of times.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Kate: I have always loved horses and as a child I would devour anything written by Monica Edwards. The first book I read of hers was Wish for a Pony (how true at the time!) and I recall writing to her via her publishing company to say how much I enjoyed it. I also (cheekily) included an excerpt of my attempts at a story. Bless her! She wrote back – I’ve still got the letter – telling that enthusiastic child to continue with her writing as it was possible she had the makings of a writer… Priceless!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Kate: I love to laugh and, often, people don’t quite get my quirky sense of humour! Injustice makes me cry and poignantly sad films and books. The Bridges of Madison County is a powerful book (and film) with its heroine having to choose between doing what is expected of her or following her heart, and Frenchman’s Creek; again with the same conflict. Interesting that my writing is all about striking out and forging one’s own path… maybe these beliefs were there from the start!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Kate: Viggo Mortensen. He is a true ‘creative’ in every sense of the word – not just an actor but also a poet and artist. I’m sure he would be fascinating to talk to and have an interesting take on life.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Kate: I’ve always loved animals and there has always been a pony or horse in my life. Currently, I’m guardian to a gorgeous grey Arab gelding and, together, we are learning about Straightness Training®, which focuses on the development of both the horse and human in each of four areas: Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Kate: I like a good thriller. At the moment I’m binging on the TV series, The Americans, which is set during the Cold War period in the 1980s and is about two Soviet KGB officers posing as US citizens and a married couple.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Kate: I enjoy Thai and Japanese food – it’s so clean and fresh. A few years ago, I was fortunate to spend several weeks in Japan and the Far East. During this time, I ate very little meat and upon returning to the UK, I found it difficult to adjust to a western diet once again.
Shades of blue and purple are my favourite colours. As for music, I’m open to all sorts but Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Phil Collins, U2, Fleetwood Mac, James Blunt, Coldplay and Adele spring to mind. I also like folk rock.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Kate: She refused to settle for ordinary.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Kate: I can be found here:
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/365V0Qs
Summer in a Cornish Cove – https://amzn.to/2RAQiF4
Cottage on a Cornish Cliff – https://amzn.to/2G94EY8
Secrets of the Mist – https://amzn.to/2FTP5Dn