Posted in Creekside Cafe, event, interview, promo

A Visit with USA Today Best Selling Author, Katharine Ashe

Today I am a bit star-struck to introduce a dear lady and fantastic author, USA Today bestselling author, Katharine Ashe. Katharine it’s great to have you at my virtual café. Would you like a drink before we get started?

Katharine: . Coffee with hot milk, if you please.  Or tea.  I enjoy both!  Though I don’t suppose you’ve any Scotch?  It became a favorite of mine due to what we can agree to call “book research.”

Sherri: Yes, I’ve done a little of that research as well, though I’m a bourbon gal myself.

I’m sure you know, I’m a huge fan. I enjoy reading your books. I especially enjoy your history notes at the end. I’m a history buff but you’re a true historian. From reading your newsletters I know you’ve taken fencing lessons and traveled for your research. You also teach history.

Katharine: Yes,I also adore history — all sorts, all places, all peoples.  So there’s lots of very cool history in my novels.  Take for instance my latest novel about a woman who pretends to be a man so that she can study medicine, and a foreign man finding a new home in the British Isles, both based on historical people.  Or my novel about a popular pamphleteer (think today’s bloggers) who writes under a pseudonym to call for social change.  Or any of the other fascinating characters or situations I’ve plucked out of history and woven stories around …

Sherri: Your latest novel, “The Prince” that you mentioned is the reason I suggested our theme, “Why We Write…Giving Voice to the Voiceless.” Your characters dealt with prejudice, disabilities, social mores they didn’t agree with, and their own insecurities; your writing mirrors todays problems with a truth that is both historical and relevant. Did I tell you, I’m a fan? Katharine will be the keynote speaker for our upcoming conference. What do you hope attendees will come away with from your talk?

Katharine: Writing can be a joy.  But publishing can destroy the soul.  When I speak to writers — especially young or aspiring authors — I try to share useful, practical information that I wish someone had taught me.  Mostly, though, I try to remind us all that when we write from our truest selves, without fear, we write at our best, and we touch the humanity in others.

Sherri: I try to write from the heart, but I have to admit, baring my soul and letting people see what’s inside is terrifying. I’m not naturally brave. How did you come by your strength and character?

Katharine: I’m the fifth child in a big Catholic family, as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, I wore hand-me-downs, rode cast-off bikes, and babysat my little sister for free.  Yet I knew abundance well.  My parents, who had traveled the world, welcomed into our home strangers from near and far who became family too, as well as all of my and my siblings’ friends.  Of love and food and imaginative play there was always plenty.  And books positively overflowed.  It was a gloriously full house in so many ways.

Sherri: So you were not born and raised in North Carolina, but you seem very at home here.

Katharine: The south called to me.  At age seventeen I left the snowy north for the sultry climes of Carolina, and four years later graduated from Duke University in ’89 with a degree in History. 

As soon as I departed Durham, I longed to return.  After a few years in the working world, then more in graduate school, in both the US and Europe, I made it back here in 2007 as a part-time professor of history and popular culture at Duke, and a full-time novelist.

Sherri: As a fan, I’m familiar with your work but for those who may not have read your novels, tell them what you write.

Katharine: In the last decade I’ve published sixteen novels and eight novellas, all genre romances and all but one set in early nineteenth-century Britain and its empire.  Currently I’m delighted to be writing the final two novels in my Twist Series of historical romances, and I am (rather impatiently) awaiting the day I’m able to devote myself fully to a historical novel that I’ve been developing.

Sherri: I know you are a busy person but what other hobbies or interests do you have and do these show up in your novels?

Katharine: I have a puppy!  We walk, run, play, train, and socialize together.  We garden together too (that is, she digs holes and I fill them in.)  She’s sweet and smart and independent and loves everybody.  And yes indeed, several of my novels and novellas feature animals, dogs and horses as well as other furry and feathered critters. 

I suppose this really returns to the question above: when you write about what you love — what you care about — the cup of joy cannot help but runneth over.

Katharine Ashe is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including Amazon Best Books in 2012, 2017, and 2018.  A former Fulbright Fellow, Mellon Scholar, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and Duke ’89 grad, as Katharine Brophy Dubois she holds a PhD in Medieval Religious History, and currently teaches courses on popular culture and history at Duke.  She is the associate convener of Duke’s MicroWorlds Lab; co-creator and host of Duke’s UNSUITABLE Speakers Series on women, fiction and popular culture; and founder of Facebook’s Feminist Romance Lovers Book Club.

Learn more about Katharine and her books at, where she is giving away a conference registration + one-night hotel stay for the Pamlico Writers’ Conference.

*Note: Katharine is taking a hiatus from social media, but you can find out more about her from her website and newsletter. If you love historical romances with real history, check out her books, you will be glad you did!

Posted in inspiration, my books, Thoughts

The Accidental Feminist

I’m not sure how I ended up writing a feminist novel. My main character, Rae Lynne Grimes, is a woman who can drive and repair anything from trucks to boats. She is a tough girl with a bad attitude. She is a fighter and a survivor. On the surface, she is as different from me as chrome is to pink.

While writing Chrome Pink, I didn’t think about the oddity of a female tow truck driver, nor did I think it strange that she was able to restore a motorcycle. My husband has often talked of his friend who worked alongside her father as a girl, and has now surpassed him in mechanical abilities. He spoke of women football players and race car drivers, and he pushed me to pursue my dreams, never setting limitations because of gender.

Rae embodies the strength of the women who have influenced my life. She is vulnerable and strong, street smart and naïve, she is an enigma, and she is all woman. I wanted a powerful personality, a character who could deal with life’s crap and give it right back.

I tease and tell people Rae is my husband in drag. That is only the first part of how she was created. I was taking a class online, the instructor told us to describe someone we know well. I described my husband. Afterwards, she told us to make changes: gender, race, religion, etc. and that became the skeleton for my character. Rae does have traits similar to my husband but she has evolved into a woman who has powered past her own weaknesses to do what has to be done.

I often thought my mother was weak. My dad didn’t even want her driving alone at night. When we visited her parents in the neighboring county, (pre-cell phone era), her father or brother would follow her home. After she started attending night classes at the local community college, I rode with her to keep her from traveling alone at night (that’s how I first met my husband but that’s another story). Dad was very protective of mom and I have taken on that role in his absence but she isn’t not as fragile as she sometimes appears. As an adult, I have come to know more of the story of my mother’s life that I was unaware of, like Rae Lynne, she has had to deal with pain and suffering, loss and fear, and as she has told me, she just did what she had to do to get to the other side.

Saying I’m not a feminist is like saying, I’m not a woman. It’s not that I think all women should run for congress nor should all women stay home and take care of the children. Today, we have more choices. I think, we as women, no, we as humans, have to find our own path, whether that is soaring to the moon or running to the grocery store. We are only limited by our own choices.

What I want my characters to say to my readers is simple, be you. It takes each of us to make the world work, celebrate what makes you special and unique. The world would not be the same without you.

Posted in Thoughts

Happy Woman’s Day

International Woman’s Day
Are you a feminist? No, I never considered myself a feminist. I am old fashioned, I believe in putting home and family first. I write romance, always dreaming of happily ever after. How could I be a feminist?
I come from a long line of big shoulder broads, women who did what needed doing to survive, to make sure their families thrived. I vote because I owe these women for the sacrifices they made that I would have the right to vote. I believe that whoever is best for the job, no matter the gender should have the chance to prove themselves. That equal work deserves equal pay. That women all over the world should be valued and given the opportunity to be educated. I believe that all women deserve to have a voice: to make decisions affecting their lives and the lives of their families. Am I a feminist?
I have been blessed to have strong women in my life. My sister-in-law Denise Toler who never let her size keep her from doing whatever she wanted to do. My little sister from another mother, Robina Norman who pushed me to commit to my writing and taught me what friendship was all about. My friends Vickie Jones, Alice Norman, Mary Hill and Peggy Mers who have shown grace under terrible conditions and shown me true strength. My mentors Marni Graff, Glenoria Jennette, Joan Walker and Pat Jordan who have given me strength, courage and confidence to seek my dreams by showing me the way. My childhood friends, cousins, aunts and grandmothers who all helped mold me into the person I’ve become. You have each taught me about womanhood, character and given me my voice.
I am blessed to have the influence of strong women but it is also the understanding, confidence and faith of my men that have allowed me to grow and discover my strength. Men of the world hold the illusion of power. But unless they are willing to see women as equals their power is that of tyrants. It is only as equals that we can all be free. Am I a feminist? I guess I am.
To all the women of strength and courage who have touched my life, you are too many to name but you have a place in my heart. I thank you for all that you have taught me. Happy Woman’s Day!