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The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .
Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.
Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.
Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.
Mindy: Hi Katherine! Thank you so much for stopping by Magical Urban Fantasy Reads!
I’m so excited for your new release Manor of Secrets! How would you describe Manor of Secrets in 10 words or less?
Katherine: Two girls, two worlds, one house, all manner of secrets.
Mindy: I’m a huge fan of your series that follows a few of the wives of Henry the VIII! How is Manor of Secrets different than your other books? And does Manor of Secrets follow a true historical story like your other books?
Katherine: Historically, the events in Manor occur almost 400 years later than those in my Tudor novels, so there are huge differences in technology (motor cars! Telephones! Indoor plumbing!), fashion (there are still corsets, but no more codpieces!) and society (or not. There is still a huge difference between nobility and the common folk and women are still considered incapable of making political decisions despite the combined reigns of Elizabeth and Victoria).
But as a novel, Manor differs from the Tudor books in a variety of ways. It’s written in third person, from two points of view (Charlotte—the earl’s daughter—and Janie—the kitchen maid). Manor also takes us downstairs, where the average citizens spend their time, whereas the Tudor novels are all about the court and the nobility. And though some of the peripheral events in Manor are historically accurate (the drought of 1911, the possibility of workers’ strikes, the coronation of George V), the story and all the characters are entirely fictional.
Mindy: What does your research entail while writing your books?
Katherine: Lots and lots of reading! For Manor, I read The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson—an account of historical and societal events during the summer of 1911, including some fabulous anecdotes about some familiar figures, like Virginia Woolf. And I devoured the memoirs of people in service between 1900 and 1940, just to get a good idea of what life was like for maids and footmen, and what they could expect from their futures. We cannot even begin to imagine what life was like for the lowliest of the serving girls, but the BBC reality program “Manor House” (in which normal modern people recreate life in an Edwardian country manor) illustrates it well—none of the scullery maids stayed for longer than a couple of days, often leaving in tears.
I also called on some of my own experiences and travels in England, basing much of the appearance and atmosphere of The Manor on properties run by the National Trust or English Heritage. I love visiting these beautiful homes—many of them with connections to famous courtiers, artists, and politicians, like Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill, and Robert Dudley (famous for Elizabeth I’s attachment to him).
Mindy: What was your favorite scene to write in Manor of Secrets?
Katherine: Near the middle of the book, Janie—the kitchen maid—is trying to make ice cream, fighting against the heat and lack of refrigeration. It becomes a quiet moment between her and Harry, the hall boy, and then an explosive moment of misinterpretation. I love it because it reminds me of my own childhood. We had a hand-crank ice cream maker that we would pull out only on the Fourth of July, because it was such a pain, but also such a treat. My sister and I would take turns cranking it, until the ice cream began to solidify. It takes more work to crank it to completion after that, though, so I would sit on the top of the churn to keep it from popping off while my sister sweated over the crank. In Manor, Janie sits on top of the churn while Harry turns the handle, while trying to convince herself that her feelings aren’t what she thinks.
Mindy: Which character was your favorite to write in Manor of Secrets?
Katherine: I’m very fond of Harry. He reminds me of my husband. ☺
Getting to know Katherine:
What are your Top 5 favorite things you love being an author?
5. Seeing my book on the shelf of a library or bookstore—perhaps this sounds a little narcissistic, but it really is a thrill.
4. Getting to know a variety of wonderful authors, bloggers and readers—some of whom I’d never meet if I hadn’t been published.
3. Talking about books—any books. I’m always on the lookout for recommendations!
2. Reading—research books, YA novels, other historical fiction, whatever!
1. Writing—Ultimately, what I love best is the work. When it’s going well, there’s nothing like it.
Guilty pleasure? Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. And Sherlock (Let’s be honest. Anything with Benedict Cumberbatch.)
Strange quirks? I don’t know anybody who’s very good at identifying their own strange quirks, so I asked Veronica Rossi, who had this to say: “You hate Brussels sprouts with a passion, you’re obsessive about words & vocabulary, and you don't believe your books are going to come together until draft #4, when the rest of us never doubt it for a minute.”
Facebook or Twitter? Actually, I love them both! Though I probably spend more time on Twitter.
Kindle or Nook? I was given a Kindle as a gift a few years ago, and I love it for beta reading, especially. But nothing can beat a hard copy of a book from my local indie.
Preferred weapon? Words. ☺
Top 5 authors that inspire you?
In no particular order:
Top 5 favorite movies? In no particular order:
A Room with a View
The Breakfast Club
Top 5 favorite books? Not fair! I can’t choose. Though if you look at the list of authors who inspire me, you can probably figure out that my favorite books include WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, SKINNY by Donna Cooner, SPIES AND PREJUDICE by Talia Vance and pretty much anything by Jane Austen, though I have a soft spot for EMMA.
Favorite TV show and/or movie when you were younger? Star Wars—the original
Mindy: Thanks again Katherine for stopping by Magical Urban Fantasy Reads! You’re awesome!!! I’m looking forward to seeing you at your launch! And I’ll make sure to include pics from your launch in this post!
Katherine: Thank you, Mindy! It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog and even better to see you in person!
This is a tour hosted giveaway!
5 Signed finished copies of MANOR OF SECRETS US Only
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