Katherine Reay is the award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & Jane and The Bronte Plot, an ALA Notable Book Award Finalist. Her latest novel, A Portrait of Emily Price, released in November 2016 and received Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and a Romantic Times TOP PICK! Katherine is also a rehabbing runner, former marketer and avid chocolate consumer – who has moved seventeen times, but now happily resides outside Chicago, IL.
Welcome to the blog, Katherine. I’m so excited to have you join us here today.
Was there ever a moment while writing “A Portrait of Emily Price” that your character(s) and/or the plot surprised you and turned the story in an unexpected direction?
Yes, Joseph surprised me. He started as a small, ancillary character then took on so much definition and personality he needed a larger stage. The mural surprised me as well. Originally, it didn’t have anything to do with Joseph, but, as he grew bigger in my mind and in the story, the mural and all its pain and implications became his.
If readers could only take away one lesson from this story, what do you hope it would be?
I hope they walk away with a feeling of joy – of something yet to be. For themselves. Like the C.S. Lewis quote at the beginning of the book. All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be.” I think, in our busy lives, we forget that some days. Joy is out there and I love reminders.
I love your book covers! If you had to pick a favorite, which would you choose? 🙂
While they sit well on a shelf, the covers are all so different and fit perfectly for each story that I can’t choose! I can’t choose a favorite book I’ve written either. Someone asked that once and I realized that I was a different writer for each and can’t compare them. But so as not to sit on the fence here, I think I like the spine of A Portrait of Emily Price best. What a delight! I had no idea they were going to give that small space such detail and embellishment.
I read on your website that you’ve moved several times, including internationally. Has there been a particular place that really inspired your writing?
Not a particular place – the answer really is: All the places and what I’ve learned from them. Moving has taught me to notice the existence and importance of differing worldviews and perspectives. So for me – setting is a character in each of my books. I don’t believe Lizzy & Jane could have been the same story set in Chicago. I needed the separation physically and metaphorically between Seattle and New York, and I needed the flavor of Seattle for Lizzy and her journey. In A Portrait of Emily Price, Emily needed the sensory experience of Italy – with its warm climate, deep history, art and espresso. Differences in “place” run deep and can bring amazing texture to characters and to their stories.
Do you have a word of advice for aspiring writers still on the edge of jumping in to publication?
Keep writing… It sounds trite, but it’s true. If you want to be a writer, you have to get to the job of simply writing. There is so much to learn about the craft, but if you aren’t writing each and every day, all the craft books in the world won’t help you find your story, refine your voice, and stretch you to your limits. And then once you do that… Don’t give up. It’s not an easy journey, but so much is gleaned along the way. Do not give up!
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I have a couple fun projects ahead. My next book The Austen Escape will release in November 2017. I’m editing it right now and really enjoying it! It’s a wonderful story about two best friends and the unexpected outcome of a trip to Bath, England. After that… Well, it needs a little more time before the “big reveal.”
Can’t wait to learn more, Katherine. Thank you so much for visiting with us today.
Katherine has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of A Portrait of Emily Price to one lucky reader. Enter below and it could be YOU!
Thanks for entering! Contest ends May 9, 2017. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!