I’m thrilled to interview one of my favorite medieval romance authors of all time–Kathryn Le Veque…
A bit on Kathryn’s background…
Kathryn started out at age 13 writing a space-travel novel, inspired by a recently-released film called “Star Wars”. The following years were filled with minimal writing, mostly on spiral notebooks in the days before personal computers. Then, in 1992, Kathryn decided to get serious. “Your writing can either be a hobby or it can be who you are. Make your choice.” That was some advice she received from an established author. So she made a choice; she was going to make writing who she was.
Historical fiction was her passion and she learned everything she could about it. The writing field isn’t like being an actor or a singer; actors can be ‘extras’ and singers can be ‘back up singers’. A writer is on her/his own. There are no supporting roles. A writer must stand on her/his own talents, so Kathryn decided to take the time to hone her craft. And that involved writing novel after novel, deciding what her style was, what worked for her, what didn’t, and understanding how to write tight and perfect. It’s still an ongoing process, but she’s well on her way.
Kathryn’s Medieval Historicals have been called ‘amazing’ and ‘character-rich’. She believes that total immersion in a time period and a subject is essential to create the perfect story. It’s all a formula, like a mathematical equation: First, you need a great title. It sets the mood. Then, you need the perfect hero and heroine. Give your people flaws, because real people have flaws. And then hammer out the most interesting, touching and romantic story you can. Although Kathryn’s passion is her Medievals, she is very prolific and proficient at writing her Contemporary Adventure Romances. Those are her most popular books and she has five of them to date, including three that are in a series, that are her best sellers.
Up close and personal…
Tell us a little bit about your overall writing career.
Overall, it’s something that has really evolved dramatically over time. I am a great believer in creating your own style and finding your own voice, so I went from writing a very basic Sci Fi novel (back in high school) to writing contemporary action/adventure, to writing Medievals after I became hooked on novels by Virginia Henley and Bertrice Small. My best voice is my Medieval voice, and I’ve run the gambit of greatly flourished writing (YUCK!) to the narrative I have today. Now, my writing is based on the five senses – I want readers to taste, see, feel, smell, and touch what I am describing. It’s a good formula, I think, and I’m happy with it.
What were the first three jobs you wanted as a kid?
Forest ranger (so I could ride horses)
Jockey (see above)
Dentist (no horses in dentistry, so I’m not sure what the attraction was there)
At what moment did you realize you could give up your day job and focus exclusively on writing? How did it make you feel?
I think I realized that about for months after I uploaded my novels to Kindle. It was like a whole new world opened up and for the first time in my life, I thought I might I might actually be able to LOVE what I do for a living! How did it make me feel? Like I was living a dream – and I have felt like that every day since. There is nothing better than loving what you do and making people happy doing it.
Tell us about a time you received critical feedback from an editor, how did you deal with it?
Interesting story – back in the ‘90s, I became acquainted with an editor from Avon named Jennifer Enderlin. She came to know my work, through my agent, and then she and I started corresponding. This was back in the days before email! She was very helpful on a lot of things, mostly the basics – explaining that the H/H should meet within the first five pages of a book or else you risk losing your reader, things like that. Things from her perspective that were incredible helpful to me. She really took the time to give me feedback, which is extremely valuable. However – I submitted THE WOLFE to her, which is currently my best seller. She read it and the feedback I got from her was this – Great story, well written, but way too long. Cut it in half and we’ll talk. Well, I wasn’t going to cut it in half. It was perfect the way it was and I knew that someday, somehow, I’d be able to publish it as-is. It took me 18 years to do it, but it did happen, so the moral of the story is this – believe in what you have, believe in your product, and stick to your gut instincts on it. Take everything an editor tells you with a grain of salt. It’s all subjective. Most of all, write for yourself. Don’t write what someone else tells you to. Write from the heart and you can’t go wrong.
Tell us what advantages/disadvantages you see in self-publishing versus traditional publishing.
I’m going to over-simplify this, but this is my general feelings on the matter – and I’ll apologize in advance that it’s a strong opinion, but I tend to have those.
Traditional publishing advantage: the ability to get into bookstores, Target, Walmart, and other major retail outlets. Paperback ONLY. To me, that’s the only advantage I see.
Indie publishing: Complete, utter control over your content, your cover design, your release dates, your pricing, your royalty rate, YOUR LIFE. Sure, it’s tougher to get your paperbacks into retail outlets, but that is seriously the only disadvantage I see. The Big 5 publishers in NYC are losing ground in this Indie revolution – for so long, they held their authors hostage with unfair royalty contracts and other restrictions. But now with so many authors publishing Indie, NYC no longer has that control. Here’s a good example with digital (ebook) contracts:
Let’s assume you split your royalties with the publisher 50/50.
Your publisher uploads your digital content to Amazon, which offers at 70% royalty rate to both Indie and Traditional publishers within certain pricing guidelines.
Now, your publisher has taken your book, edited it, designed a cover (which you usually have little input on), slapped their name on it, and uploaded it to Kindle, and split the 70% royalty rate with you 50/50. So instead of getting the full 70% if you had done it yourself, you now get 35%. Because they put their name on it and did work you could easily do yourself.
… which publishing avenue would YOU choose?
If you could go back in time, is there any moment in your life you’d change? One you’d relive?
Wow, good question! As I look back on my life, I see many things I would have done differently, but only because I felt I could have done a better job or perhaps behaved differently. But all things in my life have made me the person I am today, so would I change anything or relive something? No, I wouldn’t, because that might change who I’ve become today. And I kind of like who I’ve become! J
Do you have a hero? If so, who and why?
There are a lot of people I admire for a variety of different reasons, but I don’t really have a ‘hero’.
Name your favorite authors.
Ray Bradbury, Clive Cussler, Pauline Gedge, Virginia Henley (Sci Fi, Adventure, Historical, Historical Romance, in that order!)
Favorite television show/series.
Oh, man. I’m going to rat myself out with this. I really don’t watch a lot of television, but there are shows I grew up with that I watch all of the time, over and over, because it brings me comfort and a sense of contentment. That being said, I like “I Love Lucy”, “Adam 12”, “The Twilight Zone”, and other shows from the ‘70’s. A current show I inadvertently got hooked on is “Resurrection”. And I used to be a HUGE fan of “The X-Files”. Go figure.
I have several that vie for the top spot – The Green Mile and Glory are two of them, but I’m really into black and white movies; specifically, pre-code movies from the early 1930’s. One of my very favorites is a little –known movie called “It’s Love I’m After” with Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Olivia d’Havilland. I saw it quite by accident a few years ago and immediately tracked down the DVD so I could watch it whenever I wanted to. Utter, total hilarity in the 1930’s! It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve become quite an admirer of the golden age of Hollywood, the actors and movies of that era, so it’s one of my favorite subjects to discuss. My husband even calls black and white movies “Kathryn-Vision”. Conversely, I love a good horror movie from any era – not a ‘gore’ flick, but a good ghost story. Good times!
Thanks for sharing your dreams and insight with us, Kathryn.
Where to connect with Ms. Le Veque:
A full list of Kathryn’s excellent books…
*** Trivia question…
What animal is the center of Kathryn’s world?
My third book in the Blind Series released today, Blind Redemption is available on Amazon now…