Interview with Katharine Ashe!

Hello everyone, and hope you are having a terrific Sunday! I first ‘met’ Katharine when she commented on a post. I saw she was a debut author writing historicals, and knew she had to come pay us all a visit. Katharine’s Swept Away By A Kiss is in bookstores now, and Katharine will be giving away a copy to a random commenter. Here’s some more about Katharine:

Katharine Ashe lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, two dogs, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern US. RT Book Reviews awarded her debut historical romance, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, a “TOP PICK!” review, calling it “a page-turner and a keeper.” Please visit her at www.katharineashe.com.

So, yay! Let the interview begin!

Thanks for inviting me to visit the Riskies, Megan. I’m so happy to be here!

1. Tell us about your debut romance, Swept Away By A Kiss.

After two years of exile in Boston, scandalous Lady Valerie Monroe vows to mend her wicked ways once perfected to win the affection of her cold father, and rejoin London society. But when she meets her fellow passenger aboard ship it’s clear fate is punishing her. Breathtakingly handsome and intoxicatingly mysterious, the amber-eyed god turns her knees to jelly and her resolution to honey. But he appears to be engaged in some nefarious business on board. What’s more, he is a Frenchman, an enemy of England in the midst of war. Most damning of all—he is a priest.

If the road to the nether world is paved in good intentions, Valerie suspects she’s just hailed the fastest carriage there. Nothing could be worse than the delectable torture of her predicament. Except, perhaps…

Pirates.

Lord Steven Ashford, a black-sheep nobleman with a perilous mission, has never regretted his priestly disguise. Until now. Trapped in a cabin aboard a pirate ship with the beguiling Valerie, and bent upon defeating his enemy by any means, Steven cannot let down his guard. But Valerie is temptation incarnate, and both of their resistances are crumbling. A secret identity can be so inconvenient at times, and forbidden love so very alluring.

From swashbuckling ships to sparkling ballrooms, from summer upon the blue ocean to a wintery country house party, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS is the story of two hearts daring everything for the perfect love.

2. We love debut authors. Tell us about your journey to publication and, especially about “The Call.”

As so many novelists, I’ve written stories my whole life. I couldn’t help myself. The stories came and the characters insisted I pay them homage. Nevertheless, fresh out of college I answered another muse—Clio, the Muse of history. Off I went to graduate school to become (cue History Channel music) a Professional Historian.

Soon enough I found that Clio’s companionship, while invigorating, did not wholly satisfy me. So I grasped the hands of Erato—the Muse of lyric poetry, the poetry of love—and Calliope—the Muse of epic poetry, the poetry of adventure—and invited them to join us.

Together the four of us romped about aimlessly for some time, as new friends will often do.

Eventually I discovered Romance Writers of America and learned about query letters and synopses, market trends and point-of-view. I sent out many letters and chapters. I received many rejections. I continued to write with all my heart, but with less hope of publication. Then, when I was just about ready to tell my Muse friends that we would be going it alone once more—still romping with great joy but no longer with serious aim—I got The Call.

It came in the form of an email message I read while standing up at the kitchen counter, briefcase still slung over my shoulder after walking through the door: “I am IN LOVE with this book. I can’t stop thinking about it!” It was, in truth, a dream. A month later my wonderful agent sold my trilogy at auction to Avon. It still feels like a dream, especially since Avon just bought a second series from me. I wish this dream to come true for every writer.

3. There is so much that is risky about Swept Away By A Kiss! Share some of what makes your book so unusual.

My hero pretends to be a priest! This makes for some— ah— challenging moments of swiftly slipping self-control for both Steven and Valerie. With her fiery will and tender vulnerability, the beauty beguiles Steven to his limits. But if he reveals his true identity, his mission—their very lives—will be forfeit. For her part, Valerie is determined to remain aloof, but her fellow prisoner shows absolutely no signs of a natural inclination toward celibacy. Later in England when Steven takes on the role of a brainless fop to throw off suspicion and keep Valerie safe, she’s no less confused yet still completely in love. Theirs is a tempestuous relationship, to be sure!

I adore secret identity stories, and Steven’s is particularly risky. He does it all to ruin an illegal slave trader. A hero who keeps secret the fact that he rescues people on a daily basis—even makes himself look like a fool to throw off suspicion—is positively, deliciously breathtaking to me. And always the longing, the wishing and yearning to reveal all to the woman he loves, and the steely honor that holds him back… Sigh!

4. Did you come across any interesting research when you were writing the book?

Haiti’s struggle for freedom—a slave society that had had enough and did something about it. It is a powerful, moving, and inspiring story. Imagine a dash of revolution, another of civil war, a greedy emperor with a huge army, a sun-soaked island, and a dream of liberty coming true. Amazing! Haiti plays a small but important part in Steven becoming a hero worthy of his own destiny and his lady’s heart. (I am donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS to reconstruction efforts in Haiti.)

5. What’s next for you?

CAPTURED BY A ROGUE LORD, the second book in my debut trilogy! I love the good guys—the really good guys—even if they don’t quite realize they’re good! London society knows Lord Alex Savege as a devastatingly rakish earl. In his secret identity as the pirate captain Redstone, Alex seizes the yachts of spoiled nobles and donates the swag to charity. But years ago Alex began his double life with less than noble intentions. Now a lovely minx, Miss Serena Carlyle, is determined to halt a band of smugglers. When she begs Redstone for help, will Alex finally become the real hero she desires?

CAPTURED BY A ROGUE LORD will be in bookstores April 2011. Before then, I pray you dear readers, name my trilogy! In October I’ll post a contest to my website in search of a stunningly great series title, and I’ll keep it open until I find a winner. Readers who would like first crack at submitting entries can sign up for my newsletter now (via my website), and I’ll send them details a few weeks before the contest goes live online. I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Gearing up for that, to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19, I’ll be unveiling on my website the gorgeously hunky cover of CAPTURED BY A ROGUE LORD (be still my beating heart!). Stop by to catch a peek

I’ll also be posting a free Regency ghost novel to my website beginning September 27. So much fun stuff!

Thanks for visiting, Katharine!

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