Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Katherine! Tell us about your latest book, An Unexpected Gift.

An Unexpected Gift is a historical romance set in the Regency period. It’s available in both paperback and digital format.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Known only as Lazarus to the band of cutthroats and thieves he leads, William Prescott will do anything to find his missing sister, even blackmail a fragile young woman into helping him. But he never plans to fall in love with this mysterious woman with a troubled past.

Haunted by the memories of war, Olivia St. Germaine wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But when her brother, a doctor, suddenly leaves town without a word, she is forced to use her medical knowledge to help an injured man who puts her life in danger. Can she keep herself safe as she tends Lazarus, or is her heart more vulnerable than she realizes?

–Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

I’m writing my first contemporary novel and hope to have it finished within the next couple of months.

–What is a typical writing day like for you?

I work outside the home so for me a typical writing day begins between 3:30 or 3:45pm.  I write for an hour and a half, then make dinner.  After dinner, I An_Unexpected_Giftwork on the business side of writing, i.e. promotion for two hours or so.

–When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

As much as I would like to say it’s me, in most cases it’s the characters.  More than once I’ve had a scene planned out only to have the characters take me in a completely different direction.

–Tell us a little bit about where you live.

I live in upstate New York. We get all four seasons, though Winter seems to drag on for far too long. I’m centrally located where I can enjoy the Finger Lakes, a drive to Canada, or visit various art exhibits in the surrounding towns without more than a couple of hours drive at a time.

–If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?

I would love the opportunity to speak with Jane Austin or Georgette Heyer, to be able to ask if I am portraying the time period accurately. I’d love to know what was actually like to live during the Regency period instead of trying to imagine it from what I’ve learned through research.

–What is your strongest and/or your weakest area in the creative process?

I would say my weakest area is writing the first draft. I had to learn to give myself permission to write a less than perfect first draft. When I first started writing I  couldn’t move forward until I thought each chapter was “perfect.” Now I know better.  My strongest area is revisions or rewriting. Someone said it’s easier to revise a bad page of writing than it is to revise a blank page. I like the revision process because it give me a chance to go back and change things that don’t move the story forward, add in details to bring a scene alive, and/or add layers to the characters.

–How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?

I usually write an hour and a half each day during the week with a total page count of 25 pages per week. I write at the dining room table. I listen to classical music while I’m writing. It helps me concentrate and there are no words to the music to distract me into singing along with the song.

–What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?

In general, I think this is a good rule of thumb. That being said, one can learn a great deal through research. I also feel if you have the opportunity to have practical hands on knowledge you should take it. I’ve shot various types of pistols so when I write about firing a pistol, I have the direct knowledge of how heavy the gun is, how it’s loaded, the recoil when it’s fired, the acrid smell of the smoke afterward.

 –Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

Books were a very important part of our lives when I was a child. We didn’t have a car so every couple of weeks or so, my mother, my 5 siblings, and I would walk twenty minutes to the local library. We were allowed to borrow as many books as we each could carry. I remember looking forward to those trips the library with anticipation. All of my family members are still avid readers and I credit my mother for fostering the love of reading in us when we were young.

–Are you in a critique group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?

I’m not in a critique group, though I do have a critique partner. We meet every Friday after work and go over that week’s pages. She’s invaluable at pointing out holes in the plot or subplots I’ve left dangling.

–Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?

As strange as it sounds, my suggestion is to write anyway. Sometimes if you take that scene that’s holding you up and write it from a different point of view, it will help get the words flowing again. If that doesn’t help, write anyway. You might end up throwing those pages out, but you might find the answer to what was holding you up.

For more information about Katherine and her works: