I’m delighted to host Kathryn Kane, a gracious, thoughtful writer who recently published her first novel, Deflowering Daisy. She shares her experience writing and publishing her debut, with thoughts on writing an historical novel for the modern reader, delaying gratification, educating young readers about women’s history, and enjoying the first time.
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?
Since at least my college days, but there was never enough time with all my studies. And, I must admit, the thought of typing the manuscript (with a real typewriter) and trying to find out how to submit to a publisher seemed very daunting back then. A few years ago, it occurred to me that computers would make the writing a lot easier, and some investigation on the web revealed that submitting to a publisher was much more direct these days. Plus, I had changed jobs and had more free time, which was quite serendipitous.
What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to write a first-time story, since I have always enjoyed them. Also, quite a few times over the years, I have heard from female friends and acquaintances that they were rather disappointed or let down by their first time. I wanted to write a story for all those ladies to give them a second chance at a first time that they could enjoy and feel that the hero got it right.
Of course, it had to be set in the Regency, which is my favorite historical period. It was also a time when well-bred young women really were kept quite ignorant of intimate relations. That way, my heroine could go into this relationship without any baggage. And, I chose the title, Deflowering Daisy, very deliberately. I love flowers, so, as a play on the title, I have woven a number of snippets of floral history in to the story.
How long did it take to complete?
About six months, writing at least four evenings a week and at least one day each weekend. I did my best to keep to a schedule, though there were times when real-life issues needed attention. Fortunately, I was able to keep on track most of the time.
Was this the first book you had written?
Yes, it is. I have written a few academic articles over the years, but this is my first work of fiction and my first full-length novel. It was a very different experience for me, but I really enjoyed it. I am a history major, with a focus on the Regency, so I have a good grasp of the period, but it was nice to make up the world for my characters to suit them, and myself, instead of just reporting and interpreting facts.
Did you work on simultaneous projects?
Kinda. I publish a blog on Regency history, so I would take time out each week to research and write my blog article for the week. I think going back and forth between history writing and fiction writing helped to keep each effort fresh for me. There were a few times when I did hit writer’s block with the romance, so I just went back to the historical writing and in a day or two, the words for the romance began to flow again.
How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?
Primarily by cutting back severely on my other great pleasure, needlework. I love to sew, crochet, tat and quilt. But there are only so many hours in a day, so I stopped all that while I was writing. Though I missed working with my hands, the mental challenges of writing were very invigorating. Plus, I promised myself a long needlework binge once the book was finished, so I had that to look forward to.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
A couple of good friends read the manuscript from time to time. They are such good friends that they were willing to be very honest with me, which is something I really appreciated. Ordinary friends or acquaintances are more likely to tell you what they think you want to hear, but that was not what I needed while writing, and my friends understood that. It is thanks to them that the story is as good as it is.
[How would we women survive without our good friends?!]
What kept you going through the process?
Daisy and David, the heroine of the story and her hero. I knew the only way I could get them out of my head was to write their story. If I stopped writing for too long, they set up such a ruckus in my head!! With all that going on, I just had to get back to work, so their story could be told. And, it worked. Now that their story is out there in the world, they are not running around inside my head anymore. I do like them both, but I am glad to have my brain to myself again! 😉
[Until the next book, right?!]
How many submissions did you send out?
At least a dozen, probably more. Early on, I had hoped to find a publisher who would go right to print, since I am not a big fan of eBooks. Once I accepted that that was not an option for a debut author, I began to submit to “eBook-first” publishers and things moved along more quickly. Even so, there were still a few publishers who would not touch the book because of the perception of adultery. Daisy, the heroine, is married to a much older man, a widower deeply in love with his first wife, who only married her to give her the protection of his name against her cruel step-father. It is her husband who sets her up with the hero, and some publishers just could not deal with that situation, even though I made it clear the marriage had always been in name only.
What did you do when you got the go-ahead?
Read through the contract and discussed it with a friend who is an attorney. I had heard horror stories about contracts authors had signed blindly, assuming all would be fine, then it wasn’t. Fortunately, it turned out to be a pretty standard, and fair contract, which was very reassuring. I work in educational publishing, so I was pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing. And, I had been submitting the book for a couple of years by the time it was accepted, so I had begun to think of it as a part-time job.
Who’s the first person you called?
My best friend, because I knew she would actually be more pleased than I was. She was over the moon, which helped me get a bit more excited. I see publishing as a business, but she thought it quite amazing that someone she knew was about to have a book published. Seeing it through her eyes was a rather nice view of events.
What happened between hearing your yes and getting the book to print?
OMG!!! Not at all what I had expected. I have only worked in educational publishing, never on the trade side of the business, so it was pretty much new territory for me. The toughest thing was being assigned an editor who knew nothing of the period in which I was writing. The Regency has its own language, which Regency aficionados expect as part of the romances they read. I ended up having to give lots of history lessons and having to fight to keep all those lovely, old-fashioned Regency-era words in the story, since I knew my readers would expect them. For the most part, I think I was successful.
What has surprised you most about this process?
I am a huge fan of Georgette Heyer, and have been reading her books for years. It turns out I had unwittingly picked up some of her writing style. However, as much as I love her work, I discovered that style is now considered much too old-fashioned for a twenty-first-century novel. So a lot of what I thought was the best way to tell the story ended up on the cutting room floor, as they say. Thus, now my book is in a more modern style, which I hope will appeal to most romance readers, but I believe it has retained the heart of the story.
What has surprised you the most about the reception of your book?
I would have to say how little younger readers know of women’s history. I have received a number of comments from younger readers who cannot believe how sexually ignorant Daisy, the heroine, is at the beginning of the story. Yet that lack of knowledge is quite historically accurate. Respectable young women of that time would have been shielded from all knowledge of intimate matters prior to marriage. In fact, that practice continued well into the 1950s. The “sexual revolution” of the 1970s is what changed all that. Women who were born in, or after, the 1980s do not seem to realize how much information on sexuality is readily available to them these days, between books and the Internet. Such was not the case two hundred, or even one hundred years ago. We women have come a long way!
Deflowering Daisy by Kathryn Kane Blurb
“She cannot remain a virgin!”
For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?
Jupiter Gardens Press
Barnes & Noble
Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.
Web Site: http://kathrynkane.net/index.html
Kathryn Kane Romance: https://kathrynkaneromance.wordpress.com/
The Regency Redingote: https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/