1.Why Romance? Did you choose this genre or were you ‘chosen’ by it?
Romance speaks from the heart. I am fascinated by what it is that draws two people together and I am drawn to find out what spark ignites and transforms them. I wanted to explore the process by which two separate individuals merge into one entity – a couple – and how they change each other through their love. Love is one of the fundamental emotions of humankind and I think we are all enriched by immersing ourselves in stories about its power to change lives.
2.Is there a romance author, living or dead, who inspires you particularly?
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The greatest romance of all time. The relationship between Jane and Edward Rochester is powerful stuff. More recently I loved The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon. It’s a complicated layered story in which a woman abandons everything for love.
3. Please tell us about your last book and, if you can, about your future projects.
My latest book is called The White Pearl. It is set in Malaya 1941 and is the dramatic story of Connie Hadley, the glamorous wife of a plantation owner whose life is torn apart on the day the Japanese invade Malaya. It was a moment of violent change and I wanted to explore how it impacted on the people who lived there. I peeled away Connie’s defences, one layer at a time, to discover the extraordinary person beneath. She revealed more of herself with each disaster that I threw at her, whether terrifying storms at sea, the venomous rage of a native or the loss of the love of her life. She is a gutsy but flawed survivor.
My next book is set in Egypt in the 1930s. This remarkable country has a sense of timelessness that resonates in every gust of wind that blows in from the desert. The story is about a young woman’s search for her brother that carries her deep into the secrets of the sands. I’m very excited about it.
4. How was your writing journey? Was it difficult to find an agent and get published?
I’m not one of those writers who possess drawers full of juvenilia jottings. I came to writing late, but now I would no more consider stopping writing than I would stopping breathing. It is extremely addictive.
It was after I learned that my grandmother had been a White Russian, who fled from the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution, that I was inspired to write my first book, The Russian Concubine. It took me nine months to research and a year to write, and I was fortunate when the first agent I approached took me on immediately. This is easy, I foolishly thought. Hah! Every major UK publisher turned the book down – they all said it was a great read but wasn’t commercial. Despair followed.
Nevertheless, it did sell to Penguin in the US, where it took off like wildfire. I did a whistle-stop book-signing tour of America in 2007 and The Russian Concubine hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Suddenly British publishers were falling over themselves to bid against each other for it. I signed a three book deal with Little, Brown UK and my books are now sold in twenty languages across the globe.
5. What’s your opinion about this Ebook revolution? Would you consider the indie route?
The Ebook revolution is scaring publishers rigid. But I feel it has to be a shot of new life into the industry and for published authors because it is opening up our books to a whole new screen-bred reading audience – that means young people. This has to be good. Ebooks make it so easy to access a book – only minutes to download online and cheaper than paperbacks, for people who might never think of walking into a bookstore. It should widen our readership hugely, though the problem of illegal downloads (which is rampant!) needs to be addressed speedily.
The other aspect of this sea-change going on in publishing is that it also gives control back to authors. It is wonderful that a new writer can set up his or her book online and receive instant response. Rumours are flying around of an author who did so, and sold a million. Sadly that will be a rarity. But for an unpublished author, Ebooks represent a great new opportunity. At the moment my own books are published in a number of different digital formats, all arranged by my publishers, which suits me fine. The prospect of going down the Indie route doesn’t attract me because I like to concentrate on the writing and let my publisher and agent deal with the complicated marketing stuff. I consider myself very lucky. Long may it last!
6. Nowadays many publishers expect their authors to use social media a lot to promote their books. Many authors, on the other hand, would prefer to write only, without being distracted by digital trivialities: what are your thoughts?
Websites. Blogs. Facebook. Fan emails. Interviews. Book forums. It would be so easy to be swamped by it all to the point where your writing time dwindles to a quick scribble before bedtime. But this is all part of the new armoury of an author and we have to deal with it. I actually really do enjoy the opportunities – like this one – for direct contact with readers. I find it fun, a reward for all those hours of hard work, but it is important to be disciplined about it and limit the amount of time spent on it. When I am in the middle of a book and the going is tough, there is nothing that bucks me up faster than finding a comment on my blog from someone who has enjoyed one of my books. It’s a two way street and I like it that way. Happy reading to you.
Info about the author:
Kate Furnivall was raised in a sleepy seaside town in Wales, UK, and went to London University where she studied English. She worked in advertising, which involved travelling widely across the world which gave her an insight into different cultures that was to prove invaluable when writing her first book, The Russian Concubine.
Her passion is history. She writes historical novels set in distant lands in the first half of 20th century. Each time she starts a new book, she relishes the challenge of the research to discover what it is that makes her chosen time and place so beguiling. She seeks out points of fracture and stress in its past. Her novel, The Jewel of St Petersburg, set in 1911 Russia, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelist Association’s Historical Novel of the Year in 2011. Her other published novels are Under a Blood Red Sky, The Concubine’s Secret and her latest one which takes place in Malaya 1941, The White Pearl. Learn more on her website: www. katefurnivall.com.
To order The White Pearl, which will be released on March 6, 2012, please click on the cover below: