Wednesday, October 24, 2007

[Interview] Kate Hofman

Kate Hofman was born in The Netherlands. She lived in England for a few years before moving to Canada where she now lives and works.

This year alone, she has published seven romance novels, among them, A Greek Love Story (Romance At Heart, 2007), Castle in Spain (The Dark Castle Lords, 2007), Navajo Dreams (Romance At Heart, 2007), Greek Fire (Romance At Heart, 2007) and A Sensual Seduction (Romance At Heart, 2007).

Two more novels, A Greater Love (Romance at Heart, November/December 2007) and The Spanish Conquest (AweStruck EBooks, February 2008) are going to be released soon.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

When did you start writing?

On April 22, 2002. The romance author Nina Bruhns, for whom I do Internet publicity, said that I should write. I was very surprised, but decided to try it, and found that she was right. Writing came easy to me.

I’ll also tell you my most daunting moment: when I sat down in front of that blank page on my computer. I remember thinking, I must be mad to think I can do this. And then I thought, Nina thinks you can. Do it! And, slowly, I began to type WILL AND KIKI (right from the start I titled all my books with the names of the protagonists. Later, when I got published, I had to think of actual titles -- which I am lousy at…) I remember looking at my watch as I began to type WILL AND KIKI.

It was five o’clock.

By one o’clock that morning, I had 13 pages of close-typed script. Not all of it good, mind you! I did a lot of revising, rewrites, deleting, you name it, I did it. But I had a strange feeling that I could do this.

This year alone, you've published seven books. How did this happen?

I had been writing in happy obscurity for about five years, when one of my friends, the writer Jennifer Mueller (a fabulous writer!) said to me, You should submit something to a publisher. I doubted I was ready for that, but I had written 25 books in the five years since April 2002, and Jennifer persuaded me to submit.

In November, 2006, I submitted a book to Awe-Struck, and three books to Romance At Heart, intending to give RAH a choice. To my intense surprise, they accepted all three.

Later, I heard that Awe-Struck, too, had accepted the book I submitted.

In the writing that you're doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

Rose Brungard, the publisher of Romance At Heart. We had become friends when she wrote reviews of Nina Bruhns’s books. One day she asked me if I wrote, and I said, Well, um…uh… She asked me to send her something, and I did. She pointed out what was good, what needed improvement, what I should avoid, and so on. My book Navajo Dreams which came out in May 2007, was our first collaboration.

How would you describe your writing?

I write contemporary, sensual romance.

Who is your target audience?

People who like what I write.

I prefer to write about Alpha males, mostly Mediterranean, with a preference for Spanish and Greek heroes. There was one exception: A Navajo painter who falls, slowly, in love with a tourist he met at the Grand Canyon.

I think the genre chose me, it wasn’t a conscious choice. My first book was partly auto-biographical, and I found myself writing about a very happy time in my twenties. Add a stunning man who fell in love with me (which was entirely mutual) and I was writing romance.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

When you are writing romance, you have a hero, a heroine, and certain circumstances. How to vary these enough to keep the book fresh, not a copy of the others, that can be a challenge. Particularly the love scenes. When you write sensual romance, you can’t spill over into erotica to make things ‘different’.

You have the same two people, a bed, or a meadow, or the hearth-rug, or the bedroom in a private plane… but they do, invariably, what the others have done before them. I do my best not to get repetitive, but it can be quite a challenge.

How do I deal with this? Mostly by remembering my previous books, to make sure I stay well clear from the exact-same circumstances. If I have an uneasy feeling that this is somewhat deja vu, I re-read the book I think was similar.

That helps me stay away from too much similarity in circumstances which are so very similar.

What are you working on at present?

The Greek Prince’s Love Affair, a book that describes Prince Leiandros in exile in France -- first on the Riviera, then in Paris -- in 1949, when the Greek civil war 1946-48 had just ended. Some extremist elements had put a price on the Prince’s head. He meets Genevieve de Villiers, an archaeologist, and suggests she might be interested in a ruin close by his home in Greece. He is careful not to say castle, because he wants her to be interested in him, the man, not the Prince. They fall deeply in love...

It isn’t finished yet!

It will be published by The Dark Castle Lords. It’s a good fit for them and me. They like historicals, which I don’t usually write, but they also like castles, and this definitely is about a castle, a ruin, etc.

There are decided advantages in finding publishers for whom you are a good fit. I have that with Romance At Heart and The Dark Castle Lords.

What sets The Greek Prince’s Love Affair apart from the other things you've written?

That’s easy... I had never before written anything but contemporary. This time, I am writing 1949. It makes a lot of difference.

In what way is it similar?

It is similar because it is a love story. They meet, meet again by accident, begin to fall in love, trying to keep the details a little different every time, but the similarity is there. Then the difficulties put into their paths, and how they deal with them, triumphing, of course.

What did you find most difficult when you started working on the book?

This was my first ‘historical’ -- admittedly only going back to 1949, but it meant constantly checking: was this or that available in 1949? For instance, they have mineral water. In Paris, in 1949, what mineral water? You have to check, and I discovered in April 1949, a few months before the beginning of this book, Vichy brought out their Celestins water. Eureka!

It is difficult for someone living in 2007 to imagine a time without cell phones, freezers, microwaves, to mention but a few. So you’re not only writing the book, you’re constantly on the qui vive: Did they have this, then?

Another example, when Lee and Genevieve begin their love affair (I didn’t want an unexpected baby in this book) what contraceptives were there? Ah! the diaphragm! Condoms are reported to have been unreliable in those days.

I deal with these difficulties by Googling. I doubt I would even have started this book if it hadn’t been possible to find details of the most esoteric things in Google.

Do you write every day?

Yes, I write every day. The only exception was when my sister was dying. All my thoughts were for her.

I go to my computer with my first cup of coffee, check my emails and answer them. Then comes the good part, I go to Word and find my present book. I read over the last few pages and start writing. I usually forget to eat, but eventually I become aware that I’m hungry, and I stop at the first convenient place. This goes on, with frequent checks of the emails. I have no set times for working, stopping. I keep writing until I feel I’ve set down everything that was in my head. I am a widow, so my time is my own.

What has been your most enjoyable experience as a writer?

I think my first most enjoyable moment was when I mentally wrote ‘The End’ after finishing my first book. That feeling of accomplishment wears a little thin after 27½ books.

My next ‘high’ came when Rose Brungard of Romance At Heart emailed me that they would accept the three books I had sent them.

I printed her email up!

My final ‘high’ was when Rose gave me the url to a site she had made for me: There were all my books, the covers shown, a brief synopsis, the review sites, with brief quotations from the reviews…

What will your next book be about?

About two people who meet, and fall in love.

Hopefully I can make the circumstances as different as possible.

Usually, a new book begins to ask for my attention when I’m about three chapters from the end of my present book.

Sometimes the temptation is too great, and I’ll write a quick synopsis (which I’ll deviate from on p. 2, I know that already). Sometimes I even go so far as to quickly start Ch 1, to see if this will work. Only once it didn’t, that was my tenth book, which does not exist any more. It richly deserved the Delete button.

Oddly enough, the book I wrote in its place is one of my favorites.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

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