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Author Interview Kate Noble
Kate Noble has just released her fourth Regency romance with this month’s Follow My Lead, which takes her characters across Europe on a quest that turns unexpectedly dangerous. Today we chat with the author for an insider look at Follow My Lead and where she’s headed next!
RT BOOK REVIEWS: In Follow My Lead, Winnifred “Winn” Crane is attempting to gain membership to the all-male Historical Society when she meets Jason. How did this Regency miss originally become interested in such scholarly pursuits?
Kate Noble: Winn has three things that lead her down the path of scholarship: she is whip-smart, curious, and very much a daddy’s girl. Her father, Alexander Crane, was a renowned professor of art history, and he taught her everything he knew. Over time she became his assistant, writing letters, helping him research papers, etc. She couldn’t have asked for a more thorough education, and one far above what most ladies of the day received. Before he died, he even encouraged her in her anonymous writings, which piqued the interest of the academic world of the Historical Society.
RT: Your hero Jason Cummings, The Duke of Rayne, is perpetually plagued by marriage-minded misses and mamas, what is one of the craziest things that one of these matrimony-mad ladies has done?
KN: Jason approaches this current Season hesitantly because the previous year was a disaster. He was forced to cut it short and run for cover in the country when three young, eager debutantes locked him in a cellar with them, and then when they were eventually found, each one claims the incident has compromised them and they must marry. It is deftly pointed out that he couldn’t marry three women, and that two of them acted as chaperone for the third. While he escaped that particularly badly planned marriage trap, I think those few hours in a small room with three grasping young women stayed with him enough to insist that his sister Jane (from The Summer of You) be present for the next Season.
RT: In this story you take the romance across the continent, what was unexpected about writing a romance that travels through so many different locations?
KN: What was unexpected for Jason and Winn was the realities and economies of travel. Jason, as a Duke, was used to traveling with a retinue of servants and the groveling respect of every innkeeper he met, and probably never even seeing a bill — any monies owed would have been settled by his man. And Winn was not expecting to have to share a carriage, a room, a bed, with a man whom she barely knew.
What was unexpected as a writer — in a delightful way — was the different types of settings I got to explore. My previous stories tended to take place in one, maybe two general locations – London, or the English countryside. It can get a little monotonous going from this ball to that ball to that ball. In Follow My Lead, I got to go to big cities, small villages, roadside inns, a haystack in the middle of nowhere, and onboard a ship. It was a challenge, but a lot of fun.
RT: If you had to describe Jason and Winn’s relationship at the beginning of Follow My Lead in one 140-character "tweet", what would it be?
KN: Him: You annoy me. Her: I don’t care, I have work to do. Him: Well, I guess that’s admirable. (beat) You’re pretty.
RT: Follow My Lead has been praised for the way that Jason and Winn’s romance slowly develops. Can you talk a little bit about the way that you paced their relationship?
KN: This simple fact is they don’t know each other at the beginning of their relationship. At all. And they have different priorities: Jason knows he has to marry a proper young society woman, and Winn is desperately trying to prove herself a scholar to the Historical Society. Therefore they start off as vague acquaintances, then move into associates-by-circumstance (and what those circumstances are, I’m not telling! Spoilers!) Being forced into each other’s company makes them have to get to know each other, and the longer they spend together on their mad-cap journey, the deeper their friendship becomes. Until they have to admit to themselves, even though they know their relationship is destined to end, that they are very much more than friends.
RT: Follow My Lead is full of secondary characters, who is one that you’d like to spend an afternoon with and why?
KN: Oh, I would love to spend a summer afternoon at Wurtzer’s Inn, enjoying his beloved Heidi’s spaetzle and having a pint of beer with Totty. She is the most practical of lazy chaperones.
RT: This is your fourth Regency-set romance; will you share your favorite fact that you’ve learned about the era since you began setting your stories during that period?
KN: I think my favorite part of research is the language. Especially the racier bits. I have a book called 1811 History of the Vulgar Tongue. Entertaining and educational.
RT: You’ve got four beautiful dresses on the covers of your four novels. If you were transported back to the era, which dress would you like to wear?
KN: Oh, golly that’s a difficult choice! Well, I’m very pale and very blonde, so I doubt the white dress from The Summer of You or the yellow gown from Compromised would work on me. I’d have to go with either the cooler tones of the lavender on Follow My Lead or the blue gown from Revealed. (Although if pressed, I’d have to go with the blue, because if Phillippa Benning is wearing it, you know it’s the height of fashion.)
RT: In addition to writing in the Regency era, you also read these romances. What is the last tale you read and loved?
KN: I love me some Sarah MacLean, as well as perennial favorites like Eloisa James and Julia Quinn. I have recently been enjoying some new-to-me authors, like Eileen Dreyer and Claudia Dain. But I think the romance that stayed with the longest of late is Sherry Thomas’ Not Quite a Husband. I loved the way she framed the story reflectively, and how the narrative itself relies on echoes of their past relationship.
RT: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from you next?
Kate Noble: I am hard at work (and on deadline for) my next book, which is due out in the spring of 2012. It is connected to the previous books, but it’s also the first in a new series. I also have another couple projects rattling around my brain and one of these days I’ll manage to get them down on paper. Until then, I hope you all enjoy Winn, Jason, and Follow My Lead as much as I enjoyed creating them!
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