Meet Katherine Grant
Last winter, when I first started off on my writing journey, I’d thought the road was going to be long and lonely. Just me in my head, making stuff up, typing it out. Instead, I’ve encountered so much kindness and met so many passionate, creative people! I’d love to introduce you to some of them.
Today’s guest is Katherine Grant. Katherine and I were introduced by a mutual friend who realized that we were both publishing romance novels within a month of each other! Her first book, The Ideal Countess, was released in January of this year, to glowing reviews.
What made you decide to write Regency Romance novels?
The short answer: I love reading Regency Romance, so why not write them?
The long answer: I’ve been writing stories for as long as I’ve known how to read. My first attempt at a novel was based on genealogy research my dad was doing into an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. As a teenager, I explored a few different genres including fantasy, historical, mystery, and chick lit. For a long time, I wanted to be the next Jodi Picoult with modern-day novels tackling our contemporary societal controversies.
For the last decade or so, that’s what I wrote and pitched to agents. But I’ll be honest: I had trouble sitting myself down in the chair to write, and while I’m proud of the novels I crafted, they didn’t always give me the same energy I’d gotten from writing as a teenager.
Last September, I realized that I was getting the most joy from reading when I binged historical romances (specifically: Sherry Thomas, Courtney Milan, and Mary Balogh). I found myself jealous of romance writers. So I decided to try writing one myself.
And guess what: I had so much fun. I woke up on Saturday mornings like I used to as a twelve-year-old and sneak over to my computer and type away. I finished Book 1 in something like five weeks, writing only on weekends. That’s crazy fast, and it’s because I loved it so much.
So I guess the real short answer is: I write Regency Romance because it brings me so much joy!
I think I’d have a tough time learning enough to feel comfortable writing a historical romance. The rules, the clothing, the manner of speech...whenever I read a historical romance novel, I have no idea how accurate it really is. What did your research process look like?
I’ve read so many Regency Romances that for my first draft, a lot of the rules, the customs, the manner of speech came naturally. I read several books that give overviews of the period, including Jane Austen’s England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods and The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England. I also listened to history podcasts to remind myself of broad cultural movements that influenced the era. For specific moments in the book, like what type of carriage Hugh would have or (spoiler) how duels worked, I did more of a deep dive to make sure I got the details right. I have a research doc labeled “miscellaneous” that includes a lot of weird little rabbit holes I went down (like, what were buttons made of?).
There’s a lot of debate about how accurate historical romances should be. For me, the “historical” in historical romance is about world-building and stakes-building. I want to be respectful and truthful to the era, and I want to use it to create interesting conflict for the story. That said, historical romance as a genre chooses to leave out a lot. We’re not exploring the ugly parts of the era, like diseases or chamber pots or how everyone got their wealth (*cough* colonialism/imperialism/slavery *cough*). As Eva Leigh and the Wicked Wallflower Podcast pointed out, we’re also assuming there are a million eligible, handsome dukes.
All this to say: historical romance as a genre does not aim to be the end-all be-all of what was Regency England. So when it comes to historical accuracy, I am comfortable with breaking the rules of the era, as long as I know what the rule is that I’m breaking.
Do you have any outrageous, little-known facts about the Regency Era for us?
I recently came across an article in Jstor about how tree-maiming was a legitimate form of protest. I haven’t worked it into a novel yet, but I found it really intriguing.
(For anyone interested: Griffin, Carl. “Protest Practice and (Tree) Cultures of Conflict: Understanding the Spaces of 'Tree Maiming' in Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century England.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 33, no. 1, 2008, pp. 91–108. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30131210. Accessed 5 June 2020.)
The Ideal Countess follows Alice Winpole, a young woman out for her first season, and her childhood friend, Hugh Osborne, an earl and a tinkerer. What can you tell us about the next book in the series? Do you have a release date yet?
Book 2 (for which I’m still deciding a title) picks up a few months later with Alice’s sister, Margot. She is grieving the recent death of her husband at their parents’ home in northern England when a duke shows up on their doorstep looking for shelter in the storm. Sparks fly, a road trip ensues, and you can probably guess at the ending :-)
I really enjoyed Margot’s story because she is five years older than Alice, so it’s a more mature perspective. As a feminist, I’m very interested in exploring systemic power structures in Regency England. In The Ideal Countess, Alice was young and naive, so her story was about discovering that there are power structures that would limit her options.
With Margot, I wanted to explore what it looks like to be a woman with power. A major plot point is Margot’s relationship to her responsibilities as Dowager Countess, and how various men in her life help or hinder her.
But don’t worry, that’s all fun theory that helps me craft the story. The bulk of the book is smoldering chemistry between Margot and Fitz as they both adamantly refuse interest in marriage. Tropes include a wager and a road trip!
I don’t yet have a release date, but it will be sometime in July or August. I’m going to be posting the first three chapters for my subscribers to read in the next week or so. Follow me on social or subscribe to my email newsletter for updates!
I’ve been so impressed with how organized you seem to be, relative to my haphazard (“agile”) launch plans. What are one or two pieces of advice that you’d have for new authors who might be looking to market their books?
Thank you! I’m sure this is a case of comparison being the thief of joy!
My background is in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, so I bring that perspective to my own marketing. If I have to give two pieces of advice:
Choose one or two channels that work for you and focus on those. For example, I really enjoy Instagram. I’ve found a community, I’ve organically sold at least 2 copies through interacting with people, and I understand how to use it. But you’re not going to find me on Twitter! It’s just not my space. I’m ok with that.
Focus on the long-term. In B2B, we knew our campaigns usually would have an impact about 3 to 9 months out. And I hated it when leaders who didn’t understand that asked for short-term results! Now I find myself in both seats, and I know the temptation of short-term results. But remember the old adage that consumers often have to see a brand 7 times before they buy (I once read a study that said that number is more like 17!). Build relationships, put out thoughtful content and ads that keep your audience in mind, and in the long-term you’ll see results.
Ask me in a year and see if I’ve changed my answer!
What are two or three books that you would recommend to anyone who is new to Regency Romance?
Anything by Mary Balogh. I think the first one I read of hers was Slightly Married, so I’ll recommend that as a gateway!
Julia Quinn is also quintessential Regency. Her series, The Bridgertons, is coming to Netflix soon, so you may as well start with Book 1 - The Duke and I!
Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband is later than Regency, but it’s so good, I highly recommend it for anyone!
Thanks for sharing, Katherine!
Katherine Grant published her debut Regency Romance novel, The Ideal Countess, from her cozy apartment in Queens, New York. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and her short stories have been featured in several literary magazines. Her ideal day includes a cup of tea, a good book, and a board game with her patient husband. Find out more at www.katherinegrantromance.com (plus, get a cup of Countess Chronicles tea from Adagio Teas!)