Saturday, September 21, 2013

Interview with Kathleen Kent


I’m so proud and happy to host a Q&A today with Kathleen Kent. Kathleen’s a fantastic writer and her topics are near and dear to my heart: witchcraft (The Heretic’s Daughter), Colonial Massachusetts (The Wolves of Andover, also titled The Traitor’s Wife, but I love the consonance of the first title), and the lawless Old West (her latest novel, The Outcasts, which releases on Sept. 24, three days from now. Order now!)

Kathleen gave me an ARC at the Historical Novels Society conference in June. I devoured it and loved it; it really is a wonderful book and filled with harrowing scenes and lots of good plot twists. Here is our interview:

Q: In your new book The Outcasts you write two different character’s storylines: Lucinda Carter, who escapes a brothel and journeys to meet up with an old acquaintance, and Nate Cannon, doing a stint with the Texas Rangers. Was it difficult to write from a male perspective?

KK: No, I didn’t find it difficult at all. My second novel, The Traitor’s Wife, was written from various male points of view, as well as female. We all have masculine and feminine traits and intuitions, and part of the joy of being a writer is trying on all of those personas. I also think growing up with a dad who was a great storyteller of Texas legends helped to plant the voices in my head. From him I adopted the pride, awe and, at times, despair for the wild, rough-edged and dangerous men and women who settled the early frontier.

Q: What kind of research did you do to understand the psychology of someone who
knows their lover does despicable, harmful things to others—and yet still fiercely loves and admires them?

KK: There are so many stories in the history books, ancient and modern, of otherwise reasonable, intelligent women falling for unscrupulous men. Certainly it still happens today. All you have to do is open the paper (or click on the story while on-line) to see the destruction and carnage as a result of a woman aiding and supporting a bad man on a crime spree. As a character study, it was interesting to develop Lucinda’s growing dependence on her lover and the way she rationalizes his character and behavior. In a time when women had---and in many places still have---so few choices in their own destinies, it was easier and at times safer to turn a blind eye to misdeeds.

Q: We talked about your striking cover art in person. Can you talk a little bit about your input, and your feelings about the image? Is that gun *the* gun?

KK: I’ve been really fortunate in that regard as I’ve had a lot of say in the publisher’s choosing the cover art for my first two novels. For The Outcasts we discussed concepts first and then started looking at images. When I was shown the image that everyone seemed to love the most, I was equally enthusiastic about it. . .all except for the gun the woman is holding. Originally, the gun in the photo was a flintlock pistol from the late 1700s. It was a beautiful weapon, but completely inappropriate to the era. I sent back some images of Colt revolvers and, through the magic of photoshopping, the gun was magically transformed. If there’s one thing Texans know, it’s their guns! The gun that Lucinda carries in the novel is a small Remington derringer, effective in close quarters, but too small to look impressive on a book jacket.

Q: I know from your blog you’ve been interested in rumors of buried treasure in Middle Bayou. Did you have a similar fascination with the Texas Rangers?

KK: Growing up in Texas I was fascinated by the legends of the Texas Rangers. One of my father’s distant relatives, Thomas Hickman, is in the Ranger Hall of Fame and was most noted for keeping law and order in the wild North Texas oil-boom towns where my dad grew up. The Rangers of 19th c. Texas seemed to be a law unto themselves and were left unchallenged by government and welcomed by the settlers of the Republic to pursue their own unsanctioned and often violent methods of keeping the peace. After the Civil War, the Rangers were disbanded for a short while, but they continued to protect and serve unofficially, their experience and loyalty to the brotherhood often times more effective than the newly formed Texas State Police in keeping bushwackers, carpetbaggers, cattle and horse thieves at bay.

Q: What are you working on next?

KK: I have two projects that I’ve begun and I’ll have to decide soon which manuscript to finish before the other. The first is a historical novel set in 1910 in a Pennsylvania coal town and involves a mining accident and missing children. The second is a contemporary novel based on a short story, “Coincidences Can Kill You”, that will be published this November in Dallas Noir, an anthology of crime stories by Dallas authors.

Thanks so much, Kathleen! I wish you a world of luck with your launch in a few days. I'm sure we will be seeing this one on the NYT bestseller list as well. 

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Maiden Lane Press launches today with Moonrise

A literary agent who used to be on the publishing side jumps the fence and decides she can do it as well if not better than the big guys. That’s the story of Marly Rusoff, who created Maiden Lane Press specifically to release Cassandra King’s latest novel Moonrise.

That novel, a retelling-of-sorts of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, launches today!

Rusoff held a design competition to create the imprint’s gas lamp logo. She and her partner Michael Radulescu pored through listings of gods, goddesses and titans to find a name for their press, finally fastening on Maiden Lane, an evocative place name.

Today’s book launch is a hopeful testing ground for Rusoff. If all goes well, she may begin publishing her clients’ backlists or other items of interest, such as a commencement speech given by Arthur Phillips, author of Prague, or Jonathan Odell’s first novel, now out of print.

More than that, though, Moonrise is dedicated to Cassandra King’s sister Nancy, a teacher who died just as the book was finished. Both Daphne DuMaurier and Nancy would be proud of their very different but personal associations with this novel, one readers are saying is King’s best book yet.

Here’s a description of the book from the author’s website:

Helen Honeycutt is just getting her life back on track after a bitter divorce when she meets Emmet Justice, an attractive widower still grieving for his late wife, Rosalyn. Their sudden marriage sets off a maelstrom of resentment and ill-will among Rosalyn’s family and friends. Hoping to mend fences, the newlyweds plan a summer at Moonrise, Rosalyn’s historic estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Moonrise is known far and wide for its unique nocturnal gardens, which have fallen into ruin since the death of its mistress.

Like the heroine of Daphne DuMaurier’s classic romance, Rebecca, Helen becomes obsessed by her predecessor, who lives on in her house and gardens and the hearts of those who loved her. Not only does Helen fail to measure up to the beautiful and accomplished Rosalyn, she doesn’t fit into her world, either, an elite enclave of well-to-do summer people. Even the gardens exclude her, since their secrets, passed down by generations of gardeners, died out with Rosalyn. When it becomes clear that someone in Rosalyn’s close-knit circle of friends is determined to drive her away, Helen wonders if she can trust anyone, even her husband. As the sweltering summer draws to an end, Helen must uncover the secrets of the past in order to establish her own identity apart from the woman she replaced.

The book is available in hardcover or Audible format.

King is the wife of author Pat Conroy. A few prepub blurbs:

“A suspenseful Gothic that gives a nod to its predecessors while still being fresh”--Publisher’s Weekly

“Moonrise is a fantastic, not-to-be-missed novel."-- Anne River Siddons, author of The House Next Door

"I read Moonrise in a single greedy gulp.” -- Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

Congratulations to Cassandra, Marly and Maiden Lane Press!