Today my guest at Creekside Café is Katie Oliver, author of the Dating Mr. Darcy series. Katie and I met on Twitter several years ago when her agent, Nikki Terpilowski of The Holloway Literary Agency was a guest panelist at our Pamlico Writers’ Conference. Katie, it’s so nice to have you here.
Katie: It’s so great to be here. My husband and I do the Florida-to-Virginia run up I-95 about twice a year, so I’m thrilled to take a little detour and stop by your charming café for a chat and a nice tall glass of sweet tea. Thank you so much for having me.
Sherri: North Carolina must be quite a change from South Florida. Winter doesn’t have the same meaning the farther south we go.
Katie: I was born in Washington, DC and spent my entire life in Northern Virginia until three years ago, when Mark retired and we moved to Florida. It’s quite a change! We both wanted to escape the cold and the traffic.
Sherri: It’s been years since I’ve been to south Florida. One of my ex-in-laws lived in Fort Meyers. Being raised in Northern Virginia, did you ever visit North Carolina?
Katie: North Carolina is near and dear to my heart, as my mom grew up on the North Carolina- Virginia border. I still have relatives in the Roanoke Rapids and Duck areas. As a teenager, my parents always rented a beach house at Holden Beach…and that’s when I really fell in love with NC. Go, Tarheels!
Sherri: Go Heels. Does your family live close by?
Katie: Between us we have two grown sons, four grandkids, and a bossy parakeet named Peep. Two or three times a year we return to Virginia to visit family. I get to hang out with my grandson Nic, play “car-cars” with his baby sister Jemma, and catch up with my son Jay. In the summer, my son James spends a week or two with us in Florida, and I get to enjoy sand and sun and lots of fun time with my granddaughters Erin and Holly.
Sherri: My husband and I have six sons and nineteen grandchildren. Our oldest, along with his family, has always taken a week of vacation around my birthday at the end of July. We try to include as many of the children and grandchildren as possible during vacation and holidays but it’s difficult to gather them all together. I usually feel like I’ve been running an Inn by the time everyone heads for home. I have to get creative cooking for so many. I might need to consult your cookbooks next visit.
Katie: Sounds like you need to put your feet up for a while after doing all of that cooking! It’s true, I collect all kinds of cookbooks, not just for the recipes, but because I like to read through them. They’re a fascinating microcosm of life in the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and onward. Cookbooks are also a terrific resource if you’re looking to write about foods for a particular place or time. I used a couple of food references in my first book, Prada and Prejudice. Chicken tikka masala was one. At the time, I thought Branston pickle was an actual pickle, until a British co-worker set me straight and bought me a jar of the real thing. (It’s a chutney you spread on brown bread with a nice thick slice of Cheddar cheese. Heaven.)
Sherri: I love experimenting with new recipes. My daughters-in-law are fabulous cooks, as are a couple of my sons. I like to add food and recipes to my stories as well. Creating fiction is often a patchwork of real life and imagination. What do you think you enjoy most as a writer?
Katie: The best thing about writing is that moment when everything around me falls away and I become totally immersed in the fictional world I’ve created. I think the experts call it “flow” and it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s great fun to create characters and figure out their stories. It’s also damned hard work…but incredibly rewarding when it all comes together on the page.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer?
Katie: I started writing when I was eight, scribbling stories on typing paper folded into fourths and stapled into “books.” My father would buy them for a quarter apiece. Writing was just something I wanted to do from a very early age…probably because my dad loved to read and he passed his love for books on to me. Going to the library with him is one of my fondest memories.
Sherri: Do you write full-time or do you have to divide your time between careers?
Katie: I am blessed at the moment to be able to write full time. Until about four years ago, I worked full time as a technical writer/editor for a defense contractor in support of Quantico Marine Corps base. When I began my journey as a published writer, I was working, blogging every week, maintaining a household, and building a social media platform. I look back at those crazy days now and I don’t know how I did it!
Sherri: Are you traditionally published?
Katie: I’m traditionally published, with nine books, all romantic comedies. Prada and Prejudice was my first, and to my utter shock, it became an Amazon bestseller and went on to be published in paperback as well as digital. Carina UK/Harlequin published the first six books and Harper Collins published the last three. I also contributed to Christina Boyd’s regency fiction anthology, “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues.” I wrote a story about the infamous Mr. Wickham, one of Austen’s most rakish rogues.
Eventually I signed with Nikki Terpilowski at Holloway Literary, but it took nearly two years before landing my first three-book contact with Carina UK. After some personal setbacks, I’m writing again, Nikki is pitching proposals, and we have a romantic suspense series subbed out to several publishing houses. Future plans include releasing a new Mr. Darcy series book (self-pubbed) featuring some of the characters from my first book, and possibly an audiobook as well.
Sherri: Oh, I hope you get an audiobook. I love audiobooks especially while working or driving. It’s one of my future goals as well. I’m self-published, I think you will enjoy the freedom of self-publishing, though it requires you to do a lot of the work yourself.
Katie: Self-publishing isn’t for the faint of heart, is it? The downside of getting published traditionally is that it can take forever. There’s so much competition, more so than when I started out, and so many talented writers, that getting noticed – even if you’ve been published before – can be difficult. And honestly, some of the other things that go hand in hand with writing – promotion, social media posting, blogging, etc. – can be overwhelming at times.
But all of those things are necessary. I enjoy Twitter and Instagram and I’ve met so many amazing people online. But anything that takes me away from writing makes me cranky.
Sherri: I enjoy interacting on social media and doing these interviews, but I know what you mean, I feel I only have so many hours to write and do marketing, one often takes away from the other. Now that you are retired and living the life in South Florida, you have all the time in the world to read and write…(jesting of course)
Katie: Although I have more free time than I used to, having it can be a catch-22. The more time I have, the more I want to spend it doing things like lying on the beach and reading when what I should be doing is writing. When I’m working on a project, I try to keep myself on track by setting a goal of 1,000-2,000 words a day most days of the week. I don’t always hit the mark; sometimes, the call of those waves wins out.
Sherri: As a writer, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. What do you feel are your greatest strengths?
Katie: I’m single-minded. If I want something, I go after it and won’t quit until I get it. It takes a lot of perseverance and a very thick skin to make it as a published writer. Even in the face of constant rejection, you can’t quit. But I admit I also have a lazy streak that seems to have gotten more pronounced since we moved to South Florida. I wonder if there’s a correlation there…
I think my strength is in writing dialogue. I can hear and see the characters in my head like a movie and I attempt to capture them, flaws and all, on the page. I do think I’m a better writer than I used to be. I read some of my old stuff now and just cringe. But improving as a writer comes with time and practice, doesn’t it? And reading a lot of books.
Sherri: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Katie: I like cozy mysteries by Barbara Ross, M.C. Beaton, and Leslie Meier; women’s fiction by Sarah Morgan, Marian Keyes, and Jenny Colgan; and pretty much anything by Mary Kay Andrews, Fannie Flagg, or Ann B. Ross (those Miss Julia books are a stitch, aren’t they?). I also get a kick out of the Liz Talbot mysteries by Susan M. Boyle.
So my reading preferences are pretty much all over the map. And it goes without saying that I can’t wait to read your own novels, White Gold and Chrome Pink. There’s nothing better than getting wrapped up in a good romantic suspense story, and yours sound intriguing.
Sherri: Oh no, it looks like our time is running out. I’ve enjoyed having you here at my café. You can find Katie Olive through her social media, and her book links listed below.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katiewriter/ – @katiewriter
Katie Oliver is the best-selling author of Prada and Prejudice and the Dating Mr Darcy/Marrying Mr Darcy series. She loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband.
AMAZON UNIVERSAL BUY LINKS:
DATING MR DARCY series:
Prada & Prejudice – myBook.to/Prada
Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability
Mansfield Lark – myBook.to/MansfieldLark
MARRYING MR DARCY series:
And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP
Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins
Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan
JANE AUSTEN FACTOR series:
What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBD
The Trouble With Emma – myBook.to/TroubleWEmma
Who Needs Mr Willoughby? – myBook.to/WNWilloughby