When Kate Moore heads south to Anaheim this weekend to attend the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Awards, it will be for more than a chance to connect with her fans and fellow romance novelists. Her historical novel To Seduce an Angel is up for the Best Regency Historical Romance award.
David Kudler: This is your third time as a RITA finalist. Are you excited?
Kate Moore: Being a RITA finalist is a big thrill, because the other writers in the Regency category are so great, I am enjoying that “finalist” thrill while it lasts.
DK: What does To Seduce an Angel share with your previous two finalists?
KM: The short answer is “family.” Each is a story in which circumstances—a kidnapping, a marriage of convenience, and employment—force the hero/heroine into a relationship that dominates the plot. Once in that tight space they feel the pull of family dynamics on their relationship with each other. Relationships with brothers and sisters and parents influence how the characters come to understand each other and fall in love. Each of the RITA books is also a story in which the course of the Napoleonic wars affects the outcome.
DK: What do you think draws so many contemporary readers—and writers—to the Napoleonic, Regency era?
KM: It is the perfect cultural moment for setting a marriage-plot novel, in which the barrier to love provides all the tension and action. The Regency heroine has no “Plan B” if she fails to make a good match, so stakes are high. And all the elements that can divide a hero and heroine—birth, social standing, wealth, temperament, unspoken laws and customs—exist to be overcome.
The Regency fits the romance novel perfectly as a liberation plot as well. Laws, parents, and conventions of the time constrained women, but the Victorian era had not yet rendered them incapable of judging others and standing up for themselves. Consider the difference between an Elizabeth Bennet [from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice] and a Lucy Honeychurch [from E. M. Forester’s A Room with a View from a century later].
Ideas of masculinity similarly constrain the Regency hero, so that he, too, benefits from the mutual liberation accomplished by the plot.
DK: To Seduce an Angel takes advantage of those themes. Do you think that’s part of the book’s success?
KM: Readers loved Emma and Dav and wanted their happy ending in spite of the big barrier in the way. Emma and Dav are the youngest lovers I’ve written and the most damaged by the past, but both are admirable in a way we all can appreciate—in being loyal to those who depend on us even if that means sacrificing ourselves.
DK: On another topic—one of my favorites: Digital publishing. How do you think the ebook explosion is affecting romance publishing?
KM: Digital publishing’s impact on romance is huge and, of course, developing. For over thirty years RWA, publishers, and readers have interacted to develop the vast global market for romance. First the Internet and now e-readers are changing those familiar market dynamics for everyone. E-publishers are reshaping how books become known, how they are reviewed, and how they get into readers’ hands. Reader reviewers, readers, and writers of fan fiction have gained influence with the Internet, and writers who work with their readers have managed amazing sales feats from websites and social networking platforms.
Now with self-publishing, writers, who are willing to learn the ins and outs of the new model and who are willing to work to reach readers, can reap much larger rewards and reach a global audience in multiple languages and formats, something that only Harlequin could do before. The savvy, committed writer doesn’t turn the book over to a publishing house any longer; she manages its journey from her mind into the hands of readers.
One thing the e-reader changes is the impact of cover art in identifying the nature of particular book and the public presentation of the reading tastes of readers. Neither a Nook nor a Kindle is an embarrassment on the subway or the airplane.
DK: How do you see the genre changing? It seems to me—and I’m a bit slanted in my view, because I have teen daughters—that the recent popularity of novels that combine elements of fantasy/science fiction, adventure, and romance (such as the Twilight and Hunger Games books) is shifting all of those genres in new directions.
KM: I’ve just been reading about Zombie romance for young adult readers. In Warm Bodies, there’s a Zombie hero, and apparently it works [as does] I Kissed a Zombie and I liked It, a fun parody of the genre. Fifty Shades of Grey [which started life as Twilight fanfiction] continues a strong erotica trend that’s been gaining ground for years. Interestingly Grey is a perfect model of the new Internet empowered way of selling books. Grey came out of fan fiction and took advantage of the e-reader’s discreet format to get buzz going before publishers caught on and offered a print contract and film deal.
DK: What’s coming up for you? Your next novel, Blackstone’s Bride, is due out in just a few weeks. What do we have to look forward to?
KM: Blackstone’s Bride is like Jane Austen with spies. Each of the chapters begins with an observation from Pride and Prejudice. In the story a pair of impetuous lovers who once hurt each other terribly and separated must learn to see who each other truly is, not unlike Anne and Wentworth in Persuasion. In the meantime a scandalous painting, an unmistakable ring, a missing brother, a royal visit, and a deadly foreign agent get in the way.
Kate Moore is a scholar, a teacher, and the author of eleven romance novels, including her contemporary romance, Sexy Lexy. She will be signing her books at the RWA annual conference in Anaheim this weekend. For more about her and her work, visit KateMoore.com
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