1. Welcome, Katie Oliver. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Katie) I’d be happy to introduce myself to your readers. My name is Katie Oliver and I’m currently a writer for Carina UK/Harper Collins.
I realized my dream of getting published a little late in the game. Like a lot of women, life got in the way –
love, marriage, kids – and there was a full-time job to contend with as well. But with the kids finally grown and flown from the nest, I knew it was time to quit dreaming of ‘someday’ and get serious about writing.
In 2011 I began jotting down some story ideas on a legal pad. The US economy was tanking and ‘austerity’ was the new buzzword in England. Businesses closed on a daily basis, department stores among them; at the same time, Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ was a wildly popular television program.
Putting the two concepts together, it got me to thinking…what if a very old, family-owned British department store is facing closure? What if a sharp business consultant is brought in to whip things into shape? And what if the very spoilt daughter of the current department store owner butts heads with said austerity-minded consultant?
I knew as I rapidly filled up notebooks and my laptop screen with words that I was on to something. Prada and Prejudice was the result, and a year later it became my first – and thus far my best selling – book.
2. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Katie) All writers hit that dreaded wall now and then. I think that when your creative muse fails, you need to give yourself a break from writing. Go and watch TV. Go for a walk. Eat a sandwich. Anything that’ll get you out and away from your laptop is good. Oddly enough, I get some of my best writing epiphanies while I’m in the shower, or walking on the treadmill. Go figure. But it works…because it gives your brain a much-needed break and a change of scenery.
3. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
(Katie) Darling, my life is a non-stop glitzy, glam party! At least, in my head it is…
Seriously, though, when I’m not writing? I’m doing boring things like laundry, or grocery shopping, spending way too much time in the stationery aisle, or reading cookbooks for pleasure. (Don’t judge – it’s fun. I don’t cook anything, I just look at the recipes and say, ‘someday, I will make this.’ My husband and I both know this
for the lie that it is.)
4. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Katie) Oh yes, my family knows all about my writing career by now, in tireless detail. They’re proud of me,
but also a little puzzled. They don’t quite know what to make of having ‘a writer’ in the family. I suspect they think I sit home all day and watch game shows and soap operas while quaffing diet soda and potato chips. I swear, I really am writing, you guys!
They always know when I’m on a deadline, though, because I disappear into my office and become more antisocial than Greta Garbo. Nonetheless, they’re a pretty understanding bunch, on the whole. I love ‘em.
5. Will you share with us your all-time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Katie) This is a tough one! Let’s have a stab at it.
1. Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre. Enough said.
2. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice. A perfect book.
3. James Lee Burke. Lyrical, gritty, haunting stuff.
4. Sarah Waters. The Little Stranger. Classic spooky tale.
5. Sadie Jones. TheUninvited Guests. A ghost story you won’t forget.
6. Helen Fielding. Bridget Jones’s Diary. Unrivalled romantic comedy.
7. Mary Kay Andrews. Her books are a Southern hoot.
8. Marian Keyes. The Mystery of Mercy Close. A funny, moving book.
9. Paul Torday. SalmonFishing in the Yemen. A truly gifted writer.
10. Anne Rivers Siddons. Downtown. A gem set in the 1960s.
6. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see cast in the parts?
(Katie) Well, I could lie and be nice and say I’d choose someone else’s book…but honestly? I’d love to see Prada and Prejudice make the big screen one day. Or even the little screen. I’d cast Felicity Jones as Natalie Dashwood and either Gerard Butler or James McAvoy as Rhys Gordon. (I don’t want much, do I?)
7. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(Katie) And the check’s in the mail, right? Lol.
I’ve written two romantic ‘dramedy’ books – one finished, one half finished – the first set in Baltimore and the second in New York. I had to put them aside to write, edit, and promote the Dating Mr Darcy and Marrying Mr Darcy series for Carina UK, and now, for my upcoming “Jane Austen Factor” series coming in January 2016.
The new books are re-imaginings of three beloved Austen novels, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. My modern-day retellings are titled What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?, The Trouble With Emma, and Who Needs Mr Willoughby? Carina’s art department came up with gorgeous pop art covers based on vintage designs. I absolutely love them.
That said, I’m itching to get back to my American manuscripts and hope to have three books completed by early next year.
When your name is Lizzy Bennet, and the object of your affections just happens to have the surname Darcy, it seems fitting that life should imitate art, and you should end up together – right?
So when a film crew arrive to shoot Pride and Prejudice at the Darcy estate next door to the Bennet home, and Hugh Darcy arrives home after eight years away, Lizzy knows that their time has finally come. Until, that is, he introduces her to Holly – his fiancée…
What is Lizzy to do? It can’t hurt that Holly knows nothing about country life, and that her ex-boyfriend and film star Ciaran Duncan just happens to be the main star of the new movie. And it’s clear that Lady Darcy does not approve of Holly either. Lizzy knows Holly isn’t right for Hugh, but can she make him see that and get her Austen ending after all?
8. Where can we find your stories, and is there a particular reading order?
(Katie) My ebooks are available online at Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, Apple, and all major US/UK digital retailers. Prada and Prejudice is also available in trade paperback.
Ideally, readers should start with the Dating Mr Darcy series – Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark – and then move on to the Marrying Mr Darcy series (And the Bride Wore Prada, Love, Lies, and Louboutins, and Manolos in Manhattan). But they can be read as stand-alone books as well.
9. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?
10. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.
(Katie) Thank you, Kameron!
It’s been a whirlwind and slightly unorthodox trip from unpublished to published writer. It involved lots of hard work, some sacrifice (TV shows? What TV shows?), and the discipline to meet deadlines head-on and ‘get ‘er done.’ When Carina UK bought my first three books I was still working full time; I had a lot to learn and had to find a way to make it all work. Somehow, I did.
And you know what? I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Thanks so much for having me over…great questions, I’ve enjoyed it! Hope you have, too.
(Kameron) Katie, I absolutely adored your book covers above. They came across as retro/old school which happens to be my favorite form of art. I’m sure others will find them quite charming, too. With that said, ladies and gents it’s time to hear from you. Ask a question, say hello, rave about her…… Just leave us a comment! 🙂