Would you please introduce yourself and tell us what made you decide to write romance?
My name is Kate Hofman and I've been writing for about five years, in happy obscurity, I may add. In those years I wrote 25 novels.
I am friends with the writer Nina Bruhns. One day, Nina said to me, 'You should write.' I thought she was merely being nice, but she kept on at me, and one day -- I remember it so exactly, because I thought it would be one of those disaster moments -- I sat down, on April 22, 2002, at 5 pm, and stared at a blank screen, on Word. The most daunting moment of my life bar none, I swear.
And then, some memories drifted into my head, from when I was a young woman and so in love with a most gorgeous man. And I typed, WILL AND KIKI (our names), and kept on typing for 8 hours, by which time I had 26 pp, double space, of manuscript.
This was largely autobiographical, except for the happy ending, because our
affair didn't end so well...
We Really Dig has just read 'Enchanted Castle' and 'Gabriel's Quest For Love'. What was the inspiration for these two books? ?
One evening, I sat thinking about 'castles' - you know that one of my publishers is the Dark Castle Lords - and suddenly I saw the south of England, by Poole, Corfe Castle, Wareham, and the vague memory became so insistent. And I saw that if I changed the name of a small town and put a castle close by, I'd have a very interesting background for my hero and heroine.
That became Enchanted Castle. I received dark warnings that the romance reading public would not forgive me for having two heroines, to which I replied that I can only write what I hear in my head.
Gabriel's Quest for Love came about because, before we moved to Ormond Beach, I had owned and operated a gallery of fine art, in Halifax, Canada, for 12 years. I know artists and art galleries in my bones! I had long wanted to write a story about a man who fathered a child, wishes he could find it, and of course he does (after all, I write romance, not stark realism). Mediterranean Alpha males interest me, hence there is a steady stream of Greeks, Spaniards, Italians striding through my novels. They fascinate me, and I love seeing them soften just a little, only for the heroine, who doesn't really want to change her Alpha lover, anyway.
How hard was it to get that first e-book 'A Greek Love Story' published? Had you written many before that? What was it like to see your first published novel out there for all readers?
I’ve been incredibly lucky. A Greek Love Story was my 18th book. I wrote it in May-June 2005. The writer Jennifer Mueller, whose huge talent I admire so much, said to me, You should submit something. My standard reply, that I didn't think I was ready, cut no ice with her. Yes, you ARE ready. Send something to Romance At Heart, Rose Brungard will love what you write. This seemed highly unlikely to me, but finally I sent Romance At Heart 3 novels - that is, a synopsis plus 3 chapters of each - A GREEK LOVE STORY, NAVAJO DREAMS and GREEK FIRE, to give them a choice.
To my deep surprise, yes, astonishment, Rose wrote back that RAH would take all three. I hastily emailed Jennifer, who wrote back, 'Told you.'
Quite dazed with this success, I submitted THE SPANISH CONQUEST to Awe-Struck, and they accepted it.
Jennifer said, Send that Castle story you wrote to The Dark Castle Lords. With the greatest misgivings, I did, and they wrote back within an hour that they’d accept it. No one more surprised than I.
Do you do research for the books you write?
You know what they tell writers: Write what you know.
I've been lucky in that I've lived in a lot of places, Europe, England, Canada, the US, Canada again. Usually, 'research' for me means going back in memory.
But right now, on a challenge from Jennifer Mueller – ‘write something historical!’ - I am writing about a Greek Prince in 1949. The Greek Civil War was 1946-48/9, and now I needed to research. What were the fashions like? Ah, I was lucky again, Christian Dior introduced his New Look in 1947. At the time, I was watching the French Open tennis championships, and thought, hey!
That would be good, H/h could meet there again. I was beginning to think that Google would be within their rights to demand co-authorship … They were incredibly informative on a huge range of subjects.
I love writing about art galleries, painters, because these subjects have the unmistakable patina of expert knowledge, and that is something not easily achieved with research, whether from books or the Internet.
To date, which book has been the most difficult to write? Of all the books you've written do you have a favorite?
My Prince – The Greek Prince’s Love Affair – has been the most difficult, because I have to keep on stopping to check, e.g. Were there car telephones in 1949?
I needed one. Well, they had radio-telephones. Good enough! I still have to write the ending. There I have two possibilities, and until I know which is more insistent in my head, I can’t get on with the story.
Yes, I have a favorite, or rather: two favorites. Chrysandros of GREEK FIRE, and Tony, the Conde Antonio de Ortega de Andrade y de Valdés of CASTLE IN SPAIN. I’m usually a little bit in love with my heroes as I write them, but these two…
Do you usually outline your stories before you write them, or do you ?go with the flow??
I used to wait until the story began to run like a movie in my head, then I wrote the synopsis and then I began to write. I don’t do the synopsis any more, because by page 3, sometimes by page 2, I found my characters deviating from what I was planning, and invariably their ideas were more interesting than mine.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Most of them take about two months. They are usually 50-60,000 words, but there are exceptions. The second book I wrote, ADAM & MIMI, ran 250,000 words, 841 pages! I fell in love with Adam, the hero, and I couldn’t stop writing about him. Finally I said to myself, enough! Write an Epilogue, and now. But you know, when I began my next book, Adam turned up again as the best friend of the hero… I obviously wasn’t through writing about him.
What is the best thing about being a romance writer? Do you have any fears about writing?
The best thing is that I can write what I want; I’ve been very lucky in my publishers, Romance At Heart, The Dark Castle Lords, Awe-Struck. None of them ever ‘suggest’ what I should write, how I should write. They wait until I submit something, and so far they have accepted everything I sent in. One day, something may not be accepted, and I’ll have to learn to deal with that.
I’m a widow, so my time is my own; no husband (unfortunately) to cook for, spend time with. I can spend all my time with my computer and my heroes.
Fears? Not really. Sometimes I worry because I am unhappy about where the story seems to take me. Then I wait, until I’m sure about what I hear in my head, and I always go with that.
What are you working on next?
First, I’ve still to write the ending for THE GREEK PRINCE’S LOVE AFFAIR.
Next, there are two possibilities – I’ve long wanted to write about the life of a male model, if you hear some of the hair-raising stories of how ‘fans’ behave… It’s frightening. Some ‘fans’ rip the models’ clothes off, one woman tried to set fire to a model’s hair because she thought it would go up as an acrylic torch – she didn’t think it was real…
But I’ve also wanted to write about a newly widowed woman, flying back to what used to be their home (let’s say the man was killed in a traffic accident while on business in another city?) She sits beside a taciturn, somewhat irascible man, (gorgeous, of course – hey! I’m writing this, I can make him as gorgeous as I want) who asks her, “Aren’t you going to eat that?” gesturing to her lunch tray. She shakes her head. He says, “I’m starving, do you mind?” and starts eating her lunch as well. When it finally penetrates his conscious that this woman is desperately unhappy, he says gruffly, “You in trouble or something?” She tells him briefly what happened. After some thought, he says, “You probably need a job? I need someone to run my household – no, you won’t have to do any cleaning, I’ve got people coming in for that. I need someone who keeps fans at bay, stops the cook from telling me it’s time to eat. I eat when I’m hungry!...” etc.etc.
I’ll have to go with what I hear in my head, but I’d be interested in hearing your choice.
What books do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favorite?
I’m an eclectic, voracious reader. Faves? John Irving, Gore Vidal, P.D. James, Ngaio Marsh. Of the romance writers, Nina Bruhns and her alter ego Nikita Black, Kathleen Eagle, Jennifer Mueller, Rose Paisley. And Thea Devine, who talked to me when we were both waiting for planes home at the Reno airport (we had been to an RT conference) and I shall never forget her kindness to a beginning – and then unpubished – writer. She taught me more in two hours than I could have learned in a seminar of several months.
When away from writing, What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
When I’m away from writing for any length of time, I am acutely uncomfortable. I enjoy reading, visits from my grandson (who is studying at the U of Toronto, quite close to where I live), going to my son and daughter-in-law, who live about an hour’s drive from here. Lunches with friends are a welcome temporary respite from writing. In those periods, what I’ve been writing seems to sink in. Then, when I get back and re-read, I can see what needs strengthening, changing.
Any tips about writing and getting published?
I’ve been so incredibly lucky, writing in solitude for five years, then having a friend insist that I submit ‘something’ and having all my submisions accepted.
My own feeling is that you should just write and write, the way you want to.
Then, when you feel you’re ready – or a friend insists that you are! – submit something. If you’re a romance writer, don’t send your manuscript to a publisher specializing in vampires or horror stories. You’ve got to do a bit of research – read what the publishers are looking for – if they want romance, be it sensual or sweet or erotic – then send to the publisher who comes closest to the way you write.
Don’t ever do what I heard some writing guru suggest: Find a publisher whose work you like, read a lot of their book and then try to write like that.
This will never work, trust me. Write as you must, and then try to find a publisher who seems to be on your wavelength.
And write every day. No excuses! Even if it is only a paragraph, and you feel uneasily that you’ll turf it out tomorrow. WRITE!
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for We Really Dig Romance Novels.
Check out the Kate Hofman books we have.