Kerryn grew up the daughter of a professor in a New England college town. But her mother was a devotee of ‘Olde’ England, and Kerryn followed suit. After high school, she traveled around the British Isles with her best friend. Predictably, they fell in love with a couple of Irish lads – oh, those gorgeous accents! Roaming the Rock of Cashel in the dark with your first love? Totally illicit, totally romantic!
Her love for the man faded. But a piece of Kerryn’s heart still lives “across the pond” where those adventures took place – as well as the Regency romances she loves. So when the itch to write needed scratching, that’s where her imagination took her.
Kerryn finally met the love of her life, and he’s still at her side, trimming the hedges and dreaming up taglines. He’ll never have an Irish accent, but he’s amazing!
What made you decide to be an author?
My first decision was to try my hand at writing a Regency romance. I’d read so many of them, I figured it should be easy. It wasn’t, of course, and it took me far too long. But I loved that first draft so much that I made my second decision: to get it published. That involved another stretch of time while I actually learned how to write!
What do you like best about being a writer?
I love words. I love using them to take readers to a place they’ve never been and make it seem real. I love persuading readers that this story really could have happened. And I really love finding the words that can reveal a stranger’s heart. There’s nothing better than that.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing historical romance?
My parents – yes, my dad too – loved Georgette Heyer. I cut my romantic eyeteeth on her Regencies. I’ve continued to read historical non-romance and non-historical romance, as well as straight history – research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. Add the usual girlish dreams, fantastic travel adventures, and a few decades of real life to draw from, stir well, and you have a romance writer!
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord?
I’m sorry to say, no, that doesn’t happen to me. At least not yet.
You’ve released your first novel and are working on another, and a short story as well. What’s your favorite time management tip?
(Laughs ruefully) I’m really not the right person to ask about that. Learn how to ignore the distractions. I haven’t managed it yet. In addition to my fiction, I’m having a blast with my new monthly newsletter, Seasons of the Past. Covering seasonal and holiday customs past and present, with a particular interest in the Regency period, it offers history, recipes, excerpts, personal photos and more. You can find subscription forms on my website and Facebook page. See? Another distraction!
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
My tendency is very much organic. But I’m trying hard to moderate that. There are so many advantages to having some idea where you’re going. For my second book, I have a fairly detailed timeline, and character profiles, and I actually wrote a synopsis – which is already out-of-date.
Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it, or as you write, in general?
I love music of many kinds, but in general I do not listen while I’m writing. Unfortunately, I find anything with lyrics far too distracting, even if I can’t understand the words. Classical works well, though – usually I just don’t think of it.
Tell me more about Learning to Waltz.
Learning to Waltz is set in rural England during the winter of 1816-17. Deborah Moore grew up isolated and abused. Now she’s a widow with a child of her own to raise. She counts every farthing and hides her feelings behind a mask of reserve – in fact, she tries not to have any feelings. Then five-year-old Julian is lost one cold December day, and the aristocratic stranger who saves him wants to save her, too.
Evan Haverfield has never fallen for anyone, and Deborah is a far cry from the woman he imagined he might love someday. But he’s seen beneath her mask, and that’s the woman he wants. It’s a tender, heartfelt story of Christmas wishes and New Year’s heartache, of love, fear, and persistence.
How about an excerpt from Learning to Waltz?
The church bell tolled midnight, then pealed insistently in celebration of 1817. She must go downstairs, bank the fire in the parlor and snuff out the candles. Then she must remove this ridiculous garb and go to bed.
It was difficult to get up from the dressing table and set these events in motion. The mirror frowned at her, as reluctant as she was to give up altogether on pretty gowns, and dancing—
A pounding sounded at the door downstairs, startling the night. Everyone in town should be at the ball, celebrating the hopes and possibilities of the new year. Another grimace at her reflection, and she went softly down the stairs in her old dance slippers.
Mr. Haverfield—Evan—waited on her doorstep. Who else could it have been. His narrowed eyes bored into hers, two creases cutting deep between his brows. He brushed past her into the hall. She shivered in the cold air and shut the door.
“Why are you at home? I’ve been waiting for you.”
“You said when I saw you last that you would be there tonight.”
Teeth clenched, she dug her fingers like claws into the silk at her hips.
“No, sir.” She knew he hated it when she called him sir. “If you examine your memory, you will find I did not commit myself one way or the other.”
“You did. You said—” His mouth, twisted with anger, closed tight. He turned on his heel, took two steps across the hall and slapped his gloves down on the table. His hat followed, more deliberately. Then he hung his greatcoat on a hook and turned to face her. The scowl was gone, replaced by something bleak and somber. She would rather have faced the anger.
“I stand corrected,” he said at last. “But surely you intended to go. Your gown, and your hair… you look lovely.”
She shook her head. He looked alarmingly handsome himself in formal black and white, with a touch of burgundy and silver in his waistcoat. But she would not say so.
“Then why are you dressed this way?”
Deborah shrugged her shoulders and turned away into the parlor. Not only was she a fool, she’d been caught out in her foolishness. “I just…”
“I was curious to see if the gown still fit me. Reliving the past, I suppose.”
She crossed the parlor to stir life into the fire. A window facing the street stood open a couple of inches and the room was cold. Evan took the poker from her hands and did it for her.
“Shall I close the window?”
She shrugged again. “I opened it so I could hear the music.”
“It’s the supper break now, but they’ll be starting up again shortly.” Leaving the window open, he sat down on the sofa, obliging her to sit as well. She chose a chair, as far away from him as possible.
He settled in as though this was a morning call. She looked at her hands, folded in her lap. To break the silence, she said, “I expect everyone is quite merry at the inn. Did you enjoy the dancing?”
“I wanted to waltz with you,” Evan said.
That startled a laugh from her. “You should be glad I wasn’t there, then. I don’t even know the steps.”
He shifted to the edge of his seat, one hand on his knee, eyebrows raised in astonishment. “You’ve never waltzed?”
Anger pricked her again. “Just when would I have learned it, sir? I’ve no reason to know how to waltz.”
“Nonsense. It’s fun. I’ll show you.”
He rose. Good gracious, did he mean right now?
She sat frozen on the sofa. But when Evan came to her, and bowed over her hand, and asked for this dance, she humored him. Just more play-acting.
His hands were warm where they touched her. She laid one hand on his shoulder. Suddenly shy, she looked up into his face. How scandalous! How wonderful. She giggled. The sound of it shocked her. When was the last time she giggled?
He talked as he set her in motion, allowing her to watch his feet for a few minutes. Then he lifted her chin. “Now look at me.” He hummed a tune while she became a bit more comfortable with the steps and turns. Then the musicians returned to their labors up the street. Conveniently, they began with a waltz.
It was too soft to hear properly, but the rhythm was easy enough to catch, and she infinitely preferred dancing with him in private, where no one could see her blush.
In the near-darkness, hopefully Evan couldn’t either.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
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Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.
Thank you, Sharon!