Catherine Kean is one of those authors you immediately like. A writer who persevered until she saw her dreams fulfilled, Catherine is also one of the most grateful and sweetest women I’ve met.
Join me in welcoming Catherine to the blog!
Tell us how you got started as a writer. Did you always want to be an author?
Being a published author was one of my lifelong dreams. I’ve been writing since I was a child. My parents have illustrated stories of mine, tucked away in their home, that I penned when I was four or five years old. I believe one of my first “literary masterpieces” involved a family of ducks.
I have a very vivid imagination (I can’t watch horror movies for this reason) and have always loved to create my own story worlds. Tucked at the back of my filing cabinet I still have the novella I wrote when I was twelve years old, and the full length young adult time-travel novel I penned at 16. Some day, I hope to revisit these projects, because I think there are some neat elements in them, but right now, I have plenty of other story ideas to explore.
How long did it take for you to get published once you had the first book done?
Many years and lots and lots of rejection letters!
Some authors are extremely lucky and sell quickly. It took me about ten years of concentrated writing and submitting before I got “The Call” (actually, an email with a formal contract offer) from Medallion Press in the fall of 2004.
I became serious about pursuing a romance writing career after the birth of my daughter, when I gave up my day job to become a stay-at-home mom. I loved to read historical romances and decided to try writing one, since I craved a creative outlet. I wrote during my daughter’s afternoon naps.
I also joined local chapters of Romance Writers of America, signed up for email loops, shared my writing with critique partners (my critique group is going strong to this day), attended conferences, and entered my manuscripts into contests. All of these helped me hone my craft.
It was an incredibly thrilling day when I received the offer from Medallion Press for my fifth completed manuscript, my contest-winning medieval Dance of Desire. Soon after, Medallion bought a second medieval from me, A Knight’s Vengeance, which became the first book in my Knight’s Series. To date, I have sold seven books to Medallion.
Can you tell us about “the call,” when you found out you’d sold your first book?
I wasn’t entirely shocked. To be honest, I got a wonderful, squishy feeling in the pit of my stomach when the Acquiring Editor at Medallion Press requested the full manuscript. The moment felt right for a sale. I sent the full out right away, and received an offer less than a week later. I was soooo thrilled. I don’t think I can put into words that incredible sense of joy and fulfillment.
I didn’t realize it at the time of the offer, but Medallion Press chose Dance of Desire to be the launch title of the company’s Sapphire Jewel Imprint. My book was sped through production and hit bookstore shelves in March 2005, and in its first print run was published with two different, gorgeous cover designs. Medallion has since sold the foreign rights to this book to Germany and Thailand.
What’s your writing schedule like?
I try to write 750-1,000 words every day. I often write on weekends, especially if my week has been crazy and I haven’t managed to keep up with my daily word count. My husband recently bought me a Netbook and that’s been a great help since I can escape the distractions of my home office and head out to the bookstore or local coffee shop for a writing session.
I usually write in the afternoon, a couple of hours before I pick my daughter up from the bus stop. I’m not a fast writer so each novel takes me about 9 months to write, in part because I want to perfect what I’ve written before I move on to the next scene. I’m trying to break this habit and keep that rewriting/fine-tuning until the second run-through of the manuscript. Usually, I revise the whole manuscript from start to finish three times before I feel it’s solid enough to turn in to my editor.
What advice can you give aspiring writers?
The most important advice, I think, is to persevere, especially if you are an author whose manuscripts are finaling in and winning prestigious writing contests; this shows the quality of your work is “there” and it’s just a matter of your manuscript getting in the hands of the right editor.
Before I sold Dance of Desire, I came very close to giving up on my goal to become a published author. I got so discouraged by all the rejection letters. However, my family, friends, and critique partners all encouraged me to keep sending out material, and at last, I found an editor who loved my books.
What are you working on now? Can you give us a favorite line or blurb from your current work in progress?
I am about to begin writing the fifth and final book in my Knight’s Series, entitled A Knight’s Seduction. I’m looking forward to diving into this project that wraps up the plot points I’ve incorporated through the first four novels. Writing a five-book series has been a challenge at times, but I really love my cast of characters: bold, arrogant alpha male knights; willful ladies; and a truly nasty villainess.
In my spare time I’m also working on a paranormal romance set in the Middle Ages that I hope might turn into a new series.
Where can we find you on the web? (facebook, blog, website)
Excerpts from my novels can be found on my website.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any Hobbies?
I love to bake and cook. My husband is from England (he has a charming British accent!) and I really enjoy making him a traditional English roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings now and again. I also bake pretty decent cookies and cakes. Speaking of baking, I owe my daughter another batch of soft, chewy white chocolate chip cookies . . .
A special thanks to Catherine for stopping by!
Make sure to leave a comment and email addy. One lucky person will win a copy of A KNIGHT’S REWARD, a 2008 National Readers’ Choice Awards finalist.
Winner will be announced next week.
What is a Yorkshire pudding?
May I come over for dinner? 🙂
I will definitely check out your books–I love the medieval era!
It’s so great that you didn’t give up. Congrats on your many sales!
Great interview. I used to tell stories and have very active imaginary friends. I don’t think I wrote my stories until I was in my teens, so kudos to you for writing them down so early.
Good luck wrapping up the series! Do you have to keep a notebook of plot points and things to tie together?
How inspiring! Perseverance is definitely key. I’m looking forward to the final book in your Knight series. Maybe afterwards you can touch base with your earlier stories.
It’s so good to know I’m not the only one whose vivid imagination precludes horror movies!
I can’t watch horror films, either. So many writers who made it say to persevere. I think that’s the secret.
Love those covers…yum! I mean your historicals sound great. 😉 What a great story about how you got published! Now the big question is…did you hesitate to open the email when you saw it sitting there? Or did you pounce on it?
Catherine, I loved what you said about still having hopes for the stories you dreamed up when you were a teenager…me too! I think a good memory is something all writers have in common. Do you “borrow” things that you heard ages ago, or remember trips from when you were a kid that make it into your books today?
Hi jep! Yorkshire Pudding is an English tradition that I believe dates back hundreds of years. It’s not a pudding, per se. It’s more of what my friends call a “popover.” Yorkshire Pudding is eaten with the main meal and is usually served with a roasted meat (chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, etc.). My recipe, handed down from my mother-in-law, contains only four ingredients: flour, salt, milk, and eggs. These are mixed together to make a batter that is poured into very hot pan containing fat from the roasted meat (I know, it sounds kinda weird, but the fat adds tons of flavor). You can either cook the pudding in one big rectangular pan (like you’d use to make a sheet cake) or in muffin cups. I usually use the muffin pan because the puddings are easier to serve. The end result is a fluffy, moist, delicious treat that’s fabulous drowned in gravy. It’s a favorite with my family and once I make them for my friends, I have to make them every time they come over for dinner! 🙂
Jennifer, thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂 I really appreciate your interest in my books.
Alison, thanks for your congrats! 🙂 It’s great to meet you.
Anna Kathryn, I’ll bet you have some awesome stories you wrote down in your teens. Having met you, I know you’re one talented, creative lady.
Hi Aaron! You asked a great question! Yes, I have a file folder of notes for my series, containing character sketches, outlines of what happens in each book, and an overall story timeline. These notes are so important for keeping all the details straight.
Thanks for stopping by today.
Hi Kara! Thanks so much for your interest in my series; I’ve had a lot of fun with my characters and will be sad to wrap up my time with them. However, I have lots of other projects to explore. I do hope to have time to revisit my earlier stories, especially with the demand for Young Adult books in the current publishing market.
Gwynlyn and Edie, I see we are kindred spirits! Yay. No horror movies for us. 🙂
Hi Isabel! 🙂 I love my covers, too. The cover artists at Medallion Press are really talented. To answer your question, I opened up the email the very instant I saw it in my inbox. 🙂 In fact, from the moment I mailed off the full manuscript, I was checking my emails about 20 times a day. Silly, I know, but I was so excited and couldn’t wait to know Medallion’s decision on the book.
Hey Kristan! I do include experiences from my teenage years in my books today. I traveled to England several times in my teens to visit relatives and my Dad took my sister and me to a lot of historic sites, including churches, Roman ruins, tombs, and castles. These trips helped reinforce my love of history and ancient places.
Thanks so much for popping by! I know you’re a busy lady with a new book release in the near future.
May I put in an order for a traditional English dinner…and a batch of those cookies you described? 😉 You know I’m a huge fan of your work. It was fun to read more about you.
I enjoyed getting to know more about the person behind the books…
If you make dinner for Nancy, can I come too?
Are you sad to wrap up your series? Do you think you’ll ever have a moment down the road and think, Dang, wish I had wrote that one more book?
The series looks delightful. Congratulations on your success! 🙂
lyoness2009 @ hot mail **dot** COM
Hi Catherine! Just wanted to say Hi!!!
I was lucky enough to read “A Knight’s Vengeance” and really enjoyed it. I liked the diversity of charactors and it was a neat period in history. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
We love England. My husband’s favorite meal is Shepherd’s Pie. Having a condo in Windermere, we often stop for drinks or a meal at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. As for writing habits, I’m like you in that ideally I try to do three read-throughs on a manuscript once it’s finished. The first is for line editing. The second is for consistency and to make sure all the loose ends are tied up. And if I’m lucky to have the time for a third reading, it’s for overall smoothness and word flow. Good luck with placing your new paranormal series once it’s ready to submit.
I’m glad you didn’t give up, Catherine! Loved learning more about you 🙂 Oh, don’t enter me b/c I have the book!
Nancy, you’re a sweetie! You’re welcome to have dinner at my house any time. 🙂
Cindy, thanks for stopping by. And yes, of course, come over for dinner!
Hi Lyoness2009! Great to “see” you here. Yes, I am a bit sad to end my series; I’ve really grown attached to my lead characters and my story world. However, I have left myself a few “loopholes” in the books so I could write more connected novels in the future if I’m so inclined.
Hi RachieG! I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed A KNIGHT’S VENGEANCE! Yay!!! Thanks so much for letting me know.
Hey Nancy! 🙂 My husband loves Shepherd Pie, too. One of these days, I’m going to try making one myself. It’s neat to hear that your creative process is similar to mine. Thanks so much for dropping by; I appreciate it, my friend!
Hi Katie! Thanks so much for buying my book. You’re the best! 🙂
I enjoyed reading about your journey to date! I now have plans to read the entire series. My only question is whether to start with Book one, or perhaps start with the one you first wrote…and then back track. Hmmm!
Can’t wait to get to it 🙂
Great interview! Your books look so good! I’m searching for a publisher for my books. What’s it like working with Medallion?
Hi Kimberly! I’m delighted to “see” you here. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy my books.
Hi Harris! 🙂 Thanks for checking out my inverview and for your kind words. Medallion Press has been very good to me and I feel extremely lucky to have started my writing career with them. If you’re interested in sending in material, you can find submission guideliness on the Medallion Press website.
That was a great interview! I want to run out and get one of your books, it is a good thing I live right down the road from a Barnes and Nobles. I love to cook as well but I don’t think I would be able to make Yorkshire pudding. Good Luck with everything you do!