I’m pleased as can be to welcome romance author Catherine Gayle to the Tearoom today. Catherine’s novel SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON came out earlier this month and I snatched up the chance to interview her as soon as I found out she was available. She was kind enough to spend some time in the Tearoom answering questions that ranged from books she’d rescue from a burning building (we share at least one true love here!) to her favorite hockey team.
Read on to learn more about Catherine and be sure to stick around long enough for a chance to win a paper copy of her latest book, as well as some spiff swag that she’ll send to two lucky commenters.
Catherine, welcome to the Tearoom! It’s so great to have you here.
Hi, Jenelle! Thanks to you all for hosting me at Teatime Romance.
Let’s start with the traditional Teatime Romance Blog question. Your house is on fire. Which five romance novels do you grab on your way out?
I’d have to grab both The Bride and The Wedding by Julie Garwood, since those were two of the first historical romance novels I fell in love with, and I still love them just as much as I did then. I’d grab Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh, as it’s one I can re-read multiple times. I can’t leave without Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, because holy cow do I love Lord Dain. And…hmm…one more. How about Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros? Love, love, love that one.
[Jennelle’s Note: Lord of Scoundrels made my personal top 5 romances as well and a favorite here among Teatime readers.]
What important book have you never read?
Shhh…don’t tell my college professors, because I was an English major and took countless literature courses in which I was supposed to read Moby Dick. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stay awake long enough to get through more than about two pages at a time. That’s one of the most insanely boring books I’ve ever tried to read. And I swear, I did try. But I can’t. I just can’t get through it. That doesn’t mean I can’t write a darn good paper on it, though, good enough to fool all of those college professors into believing I read the stupid thing.
Pen envy time. What book do you wish you’d written?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Really any of the Harry Potter books, but to me the third installment is the most perfect of them all. But sadly, my brain doesn’t turn to witches and wizards and wands and werewolves when I sit down to write, and even if it did, I’ve never come up with such a perfectly intricately woven plot as that. I’m in awe of JK Rowling, and become even more so every time I read those books.
What’s your most memorable moment as an author?
It would have to be the first piece of fan mail I ever received. It was short and to the point. This reader loved the first two books in my first series and wanted to know when the next one was coming out. But someone took the time to email me and let me know she liked what I did. I still get goosebumps every time I hear from a reader.
What drew you to writing historical romances rather than contemporaries, paranormals, or some other subgenre of romance?
I read a few contemporaries, but not that many. I rarely read paranormal romance or fantasy, or anything like that–other than in YA books like the Harry Potter series. They just don’t hold much interest for me. But I’ve always been a history buff. Back many years ago, before I decided what I wanted to do with my life, I was a history major in college. And the first romances I read were those written by Julie Garwood. I devoured every book she’d ever written, and it was only when I couldn’t find any more that I moved on to other authors. I tried to branch out, dipping my toes into various subgenres…but none of them spoke to me the way historical romances do. So it was only natural when I started to write that I would lean toward a time in history to focus upon. I have, occasionally, attempted to write something contemporary. But it doesn’t work for me. My voice isn’t suited to it, and it comes out sounding stunted and unnatural, and I inevitably give up and go back to my historical pieces.
It’s clear from your Twitter presence (and your website) that your 4-legged and furry babies hold a special place in your heart. Have you ever been able to work pets into one of your stories? Did they keep cat as pets in the Regency period?
It wasn’t really common for people to keep cats as pets in the Regency, but that doesn’t mean no one did it. You’d be far more likely to find dogs in a Regency home, particularly the various hunting breeds. But animals were all around, just as they are now. In Merely a Miss, my heroine has a cat who plays a role within the story. And more recently, in Seven Minutes in Devon, my heroine helps to train a dog to become essentially a Regency-era version of a seeing eye dog for one of her very good friends.
Your story “An Unintended Journey” appears in the Regency Christmas Summons collection. That anthology series manages to include stories that aren’t just thematically associated, but intimately tied by storyline. How did you arrange it all between authors? Was it complicated?
That was my first foray into writing novellas that are intimately tied together. A few of us did it again with both The Betting Season and A Season To Remember. While yes, it was certainly complicated to work out who these people would be and how they would interact with one another without stepping on the toes of one of the other authors’ characters, it was also extremely exciting. We had to know who was where at all times, and if we wanted to borrow one of the other authors’ characters for something, we had to work very closely with them in order to be sure we kept their actions in line with the owner of that character’s vision. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails went back and forth between the lot of us, not to mention in person meetings for planning while we were at conferences, and so on and so forth. But I think we’re all very proud of how they each came out.
Your novel SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON came out recently and touches on a particularly dark side of human emotion, that of attempted suicide. Did you find it difficult to address such an inherently personal act and still maintain positive forward movement in the story?
When I first had the idea for the story and began working on it (some two years ago or more), I was sure I could handle it without a problem. But various things came up in my writing life, and I was forced to set the story aside for quite some time. During the time I wasn’t able to work on it, someone very close to me attempted to commit suicide. Four times, actually, over the course of a year. For a while, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to finish work on that story…but my critique partners wouldn’t give up on it. They kept poking and prodding at me to get back to work on it, and finally I bucked up the courage and pulled it up again.
I think, while it was certainly more difficult to get through certain aspects of this story than it would have been if I hadn’t been so close to it in real life, if those things hadn’t happened I’m not sure I could have written the story with as much authenticity as I did. So my answer to your question is both yes and no. It was extremely difficult to address the act, but it wasn’t really difficult to maintain positive movement in the story–because the attempted suicide was a driving force within the plot. Yet at the same time, it was very tough to keep delving back into those emotions within myself.
Can you tell us a little something more about SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON? Your website blurb intrigued me and I’d like to read it. (I’m on a self-imposed personal reading fast until NaNoWriMo is over.)
SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON is a bit of a departure for me from the other novels and novellas I’ve released. For the most part, my other stories are fairly lighthearted even when they deal with heavy, emotional issues. But in Seven Minutes, and in the other novels which will follow within the series, you’ll find some humor but a lot more angst. You’ve got a brooding, conflicted hero alongside a heroine who has been the target of his anger for years. I hope that readers will go along with me for the journey, even if it is not quite what they’ve come to expect from me over the years.
Favorite hockey team? (For many years, mine was the Muskegon Lumberjacks until I moved away from home.)
Detroit Red Wings, hands down. I started watching hockey back in the late 80s, and at the time there was no hockey team in Texas, where I grew up. (At least not in the NHL. There might have been a minor league team or two, but they weren’t on TV.) So, since there was no home team for me to adopt, I had to pick one. And the Red Wings had this guy, the captain of the team who could score seemingly at will: Steve Yzerman. In the first game I remember watching with him playing, I’m pretty sure he scored a hat trick. So they became my team. In ’93, the Stars moved down to Dallas from Minnesota, so I adopted them as my secondary team. I have rooted for them except when the act of them winning would have a negative effect upon the Wings. And now that I’m in the Raleigh area, I suppose I’ll have to adopt the Canes in some capacity too (if the NHL and NHLPA would ever come to an agreement on the CBA and end this stupid lockout). But I will never give up my Wings.
Catherine Says: “So, now I have a question for the Tearoom. If you could only read one subgenre of books for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I’ll give a paper copy of SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON to two random commenters (you must live in the US, Mexico, or Canada), and I’ll throw in a bunch of swag including custom-made playing cards with the cover.” Catherine will be contacting the winners via email ASAP!
Catherine Gayle has been an avid reader of romance novels (and almost anything else she can legally get her hands on) for as long as she can remember. Her mother might say it started in the womb. When she is not writing or reading, she can often be found buried beneath her sleeping cat or chasing the Nephew Monster. She’s a reality TV junkie, a hockey addict, and experimental cook. Catherine can be found online on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, and also on her author’s website, www.catherinegayle.com.
About SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON, the first book in Catherine’s new Cardiff Siblings series: During a minutes-long span three years ago, their lives were forever changed when Lady Morgan Cardiff nearly drowned. Returning to the disastrous scene for the first time, Emma Hathaway is older, wiser—and ready to move on. With her parents quickly aging, she needs a husband. Alas, she is an awkward, bookish girl with no dowry to recommend her, and she is far from being an Incomparable or an heiress who might rouse a gentleman’s interest. Her hopes of changing the ton’s view of her are dashed upon the arrival of the others involved in that life-altering moment.
Aidan Cardiff’s perpetual glares prove he blames Emma for Morgan’s scarred, blind condition. His unfounded hatred alone leaves Emma shaken, but his unbidden advances threaten to thwart her husband-hunt. Ever since his sister’s failed attempts to take her own life, Aidan Cardiff has been a loathsome, brooding artist. He’s spent three years creating artwork to depict the revenge he’d like to exact against anyone, save himself, who can be blamed for Morgan’s pervasive melancholy. Yet his art has been far from enough to assuage the rage he’s built inside. Morgan is finally ready to live again, but Aidan fears letting her out of his sight—particularly with Emma Hathaway, the chit whose very existence sets his blood to boiling. But is the heat fueling his fire due solely to his anger, or is there something more?