Welcome to our January First Friday Breakfast (and first author interview of 2014) with Kaye Wilson Klem. Please note that Kaye’s novels contain explicit scenes intended only for adult readers. Parental approval advised if under 18. Kaye’s novels are adult mainstream historical romance.
Writing as Kaye Wilson Klem, Kaye Klem and Cathleen Carleton, Kaye graduated magna cum laude from a large Midwestern University and was a feature writer and reporter for THE HARTFORD TIMES in Hartford, Connecticut, after college. Kaye began writing her first book in a closet under a bare light bulb to keep her toddler from lunching on her manuscript. At that age they’ll chew on anything! That historical novel, TOUCH THE SUN was published by Doubleday & Company and was named best book of the year by the Missouri Writers Guild. She has published seven more novels: Three historical romances—DEFIANT DESIRE and two of which [RECKLESS FIRES and EAST OF JAMAICA] were lead titles for Fawcett Gold Medal—a historical novel [RIDE FROM THE NIGHT] set in the American Revolution under the pen name, Cathleen Carleton—and a Hollywood saga, MIRRORS, from New American Library, moving from the Silent Era of Hollywood to the Golden Age of film to contemporary film. Her Scotland novel, DARE THE WILD WIND, is currently up on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble/Nook. The latest, IMAGE IN IVORY, is new on Amazon. Her books have been published in British, French, Italian and Scandinavian editions. She has been listed in OUTSTANDING YOUNG WOMEN OF AMERICA and has taught Creative Writing for a Community College District. Kaye has traveled to England, Scotland and Ireland; and to Greece, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Canada, plus most states in the US. She enjoys music, rock and classical, art museums, theater and film, social events large and small, and good company with book lovers.
This morning I’m starting the new year with a hard-boiled egg seasoned with kelp and smoked paprika; a half banana rolled in dukkah, sliced and mixed with arugula and blueberries then drizzled with white truffle olive oil; a small, fresh-baked croissant with a dab of apricot jam; a mocha cappuccino. What are you having for your virtual breakfast, Kaye?
My favorite breakfast is a one-egg veggie omelet with a toasted English muffin, followed by low-fat fruit yogurt, usually mixed with fresh fruit such as blueberries, blackberries or strawberries.
Sounds tasty! Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.
I like to research a fresh subject, usually in a different era from my last historical novel. Research comes first. I have an idea in the back of my mind about the characters I will write about—this seems to come subconsciously depending on the historical period and what they might have encountered in those times. I like to learn how people lived then, what were their lives like. And what might have happened to them in that time and place. I do make sure I choose a dramatic time in history readers will have heard of, and exciting events I can involve the characters in, though the main characters are all fictional. Research usually takes as many as five months before I begin to write the book. I take notes, in my very earliest writing on a typewriter then placed in a three-ring notebook, more recently Xeroxing excerpts from books which are historical sources. If I am writing something contemporary, research is different. In my suspense novel set in Las Vegas, ON THIN ICE, a sensible-shoed college professor gets a fashion makeover, determined to prove a gambling-addicted hockey star killed her glamorous sister. For a present-day suspense book, I can use the Internet and copy and paste excerpts from the Internet into my Word files for later reference. And interview experts on contemporary subjects I will want to touch on in my book. In this case, Las Vegas is the playground, and the book involved research on card-counting and how much havoc a math whiz can wreak winning at the tables to try to get close to a gambling athlete in his favorite spot to unwind. That also meant learning about hockey, too
For IMAGE IN IVORY, I was intrigued by time travel, always one of my favorite reads; and encouraged by novels which demonstrated there were readers out there today for this kind of an adventure. And I was ready to have some fun with it. I pitted a modern independent woman, Carrie Todd, against a strong and capable man in the American Revolution, a frontier scout for the Continental Army, and stranded them in the wilderness alone. She can’t tell him how she came to be in the spot where he first found her, but she does confound him with her reactions to his attempts to protect her and her sometimes humorous retorts to his advice. At the same time, the daughter of a wealthy Tory, Caroline Renard, finds herself catapulted into the Twenty-First Century, to confront boxes that talk and carriages that race along highroads at blinding speed. And the fear she will be committed to a Bedlam if she explains she is from the Eighteenth Century. I love to step into the shoes of my characters, and imagine what they might think of a world they could never have pictured.
Why American history? I find American history much closer to my interests. Historical novels aren’t all about dukes [there are never very many dukes at any one time in any monarchy, since dukes normally at least in England were the spare sons of kings or their descendants not the prince who would inherit the throne]; no matter how many appear in novels. Nor were the heroines mostly hopeful Regency misses at Almack’s, on the hunt for a titled husband. Knights and nobility and the mind set of those times don’t interest me half as much as relatable men and women [or the fictional equivalent] who strive against dangerous odds and for love that lasts a lifetime. Characters of a type that might even be in a lot of people’s family trees. I’ve written about Scotland and England and France, and the Caribbean, but most of all about American characters who find themselves in ticklish pickles straight out of history.
I’m firing up the Keurig for more hazelnut decaf coffee. What did you find fun about writing this story and what was difficult?
It was fun to play out the conflict of the Twenty-First Century heroine who can’t get her head around Revolutionary-era expectations of women, or conform to them; and her swiss-cheese recollections of Revolutionary history. All she can really be sure of is who won, not a lot of help when she and the man she grows to love are thrown into danger in a major battle and she finds herself in worse danger as the captive of a revenge-bent Mohawk war chief. It was especially fun to have Caroline cope with delightful surprises like hot showers and clothing much more comfortable than she ever wore, but much more prone to bare a lot of skin in peculiar places. And a psychiatrist trying to unravel her pretended memory loss.
I wish I could wring my hands about how difficult some part of IMAGE IN IVORY was. I enjoy the writing so much, and have such a linear process in doing it that everything seems to grow from what I’ve written till that point, it’s mostly finding enough time to get from one story point to the next before shutting down the computer. I always re-read the previous chapter each day, which launches me into new material. And when the book is finished, re-read and edit it, as well as editing each chapter the next day after I’ve written it, sometimes doing several drafts there before moving ahead. I do leave room for serendipity—a new idea from ongoing research, or just inspiration I hadn’t planned as I write.
Thank you for sharing your breakfast and writing life, Kaye. Congratulations on your publications and my best wishes for your next novel.
Before you blast off to Amazon to buy Image in Ivory or choose another of her captivating books, who would like to join us in a cup of Kaye’s favorite hazelnut decaffeinated coffee?