Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency era. Lucky for us, she brings us a drop-dead gorgeous aristocrat-turned-spy to heat things up with her inexperienced heroine in Deflowering Daisy.
We spoke with Kathryn about her book, her hero, her love of romance, and how her ancestors helped her understand the way people viewed sexuality in Daisy’s era.
Many authors have a defining moment, a thing that moved them toward working hard to write and publish their work. When did you first know you wanted to write erotic romance books?
When I read The Lady’s Tutor, by Robin Schone. That was such an eye-opening novel for me. Though there was a large helping of graphic sex, it did not feel at all dirty or crude. It was a wonderful love story which was enhanced and strengthened by the physical relationship between the couple. It was the first time I realized that hot sex and true romance were not mutually exclusive and I knew I wanted to write my own versions of those relationships.
Your debut novel is an erotic historical. Do you think that will continue to be your genre or will you write in other genres as well?
I have already begun work on a couple of new stories, both are erotic fantasies, but with historical overtones. I am enjoying making up the worlds for these stories, instead of having to check every fact in order to keep them historically accurate. These new worlds have a basis in history, since I still enjoy the times before my own, but I can shape these new worlds to have the features I find most attractive, pleasurable and comfortable. I am not a fan of grit or dirt in romance, since I do not find such situations at all sexy or romantic. I prefer stories that are set in lovely places with comfortable surroundings. I want the drama and excitement to come from the interaction between the characters in the story.
Can you tell us about your newest book, Deflowering Daisy. What can fans expect?
It is a first-time story, set during the English Regency, in the year after Waterloo. A much older man arranges for an innocent young woman to be introduced to the pleasures of the bedchamber by a former spy who believes he is responsible for a terrible tragedy. Though the hero intended to keep his secret from Daisy, the heroine, he is unable to do so. Over the course of the story, she is able to help him come to terms with his personal pain, while he is able to convince her to value herself, something she had never thought possible. As a play on the title, I have scattered a number of floral history snippets throughout the story, followed up by a set of historical notes for those who want more detail.
Tell us a little bit about the sexy hero in Deflowering Daisy and why we will want to get to know him.
His name is David and he is drop-dead gorgeous, at least in my opinion. He is the younger son of an aristocratic family who became a spy for the Crown during the Napoleonic Wars since he found being just an officer a bit too boring. By the time the story opens, he believes he has lost his honor because of a terrible tragedy for which he blames himself. He has become nearly a recluse because he believes he is not fit to associate with decent people. But I think readers will see over the course of the story that he is indeed a man of honor, not to mention a tender and considerate lover. I also think readers will come to sympathize with him a bit, since up to this point, experienced women have always come on to him. He is finding initiating a virgin rather hard going at some points in the story, but he courageously soldiers on.
I’ll ask you a question that you ask authors interviewed on your blog: When you craft a hero, are you incorporating traits from men you know, or are you writing about a man you have never met, but would like to?
Typically, a combination of both. In most cases, the hero’s appearance is straight out of my imagination, a man I have never met, though I would certainly like to. But in terms of the hero’s character and morals, those are almost always drawn from men I know and respect. Those men might not be matinee idols in appearance, but their integrity, courage, decency and consideration for others are very definitely the qualities I want in my heroes. I care very much about my heroines and I think they each deserve a truly good and good-looking hero.
What makes you fall in love with a character when you are writing? Are there certain qualities he has to have?
The two most important qualities to me are honesty and integrity. A hero might be forced by circumstances (the plot or the author) to be not completely truthful from time to time, but for my heroine’s sake, I need to know he is true at heart. I also adore a man who is well-read, urbane and elegant, but can hold his own in a scrap, should it become necessary. There is something so magnetic about that sense of tightly leashed, controlled power, simmering just under the calm, smooth surface.
What kind of research did you do for your new book? Did you travel to the locale or spend a lot of time studying it and the time period?
I have the advantage of a graduate degree in both history and material culture. I also spent some years as a museum and historic house curator, so I have a thorough understanding of the period about which I am writing, as well as the setting I have chosen for my story. As an historic house curator, the objects which I could arrange for display in the various rooms were limited by what the museum owned. In my story, I can furnish the rooms completely, with the all objects I know would have been used. There are no limits in fiction, which I really enjoy. In addition, I spent some time living in England and Ireland, which has been very helpful to me in visualizing locales as I write.
Where does the magic happen? Do you write in a home office (what state?) or on the road, or both?
My very favorite place to write is on my back porch, though that is only possible in the good weather. (I hate cold and wet!) I live in Boston, so once it gets cold and dreary, I have to move indoors. I don’t have a home office, since I don’t want to be confined to one place. Fortunately I have a laptop, so I can work in whichever room suits me at the moment. Usually, I follow the sun, so the dining room or the living room, depending on which room is getting the most sunlight at the moment. I do not have to travel for my job, so all my writing is done at home.
When you want to relax with a book, what genre do you read? Any favorite authors?
Usually Regency romance. I just love that period, though I do read romances set in other periods of history as well. My favorite author is Georgette Heyer, though I read a lot of Regencies written by modern authors. I also enjoy the novels of Jane Austen, though technically, she did not write historical novels since she was writing about the period in which she lived. Austen was actually a contemporary romance writer whose work has survived the test of time.
What has been the most surprising response to Deflowering Daisy thus far?
The fact that no one born after 1980 can accept that my heroine, Daisy, can be as sexually ignorant as she is portrayed in the story. Her complete innocence is quite historically accurate, it was how proper young women of those times were raised. However, in these more sexually open times, younger women today are quite unaware of how sheltered and protected most young women were in times past. It is reported that the romance novelist, Barbara Cartland, broke off her first engagement in disgust, in the 1920s, when the facts of life were explained to her. My own great-aunt fled her house the morning after her wedding and went home to her mother, because she was so revolted by what had happened on her wedding night. My great-grandmother had gone to her marriage bed with no previous information and therefore it did not occur to her to inform her daughter. My great-aunt was eventually reconciled with her husband and they had a long and happy marriage. That same great-aunt pulled my grandmother aside a couple of days before her wedding to explain to her what would happen in the marriage bed. My grandmother nearly called off her own wedding, but was eventually persuaded to go through with it. So far as I can tell, both my grandmother and my great-aunt did their duty, in order to have children, but I have the sense neither of them ever really enjoyed that side of marriage. It was not until the 1970s that things began to change and women were able to more easily find information on sex and its pleasures, regardless of their parent’s attempts to limit that knowledge. Young women today don’t seem to know that history.
And the question we ask all authors: Why do you think erotic romances are good for readers?
They are sources of freedom and joy! Studies have shown that most people experience the events about which they read in fiction in much the same way they do the events of real life. Therefore, I believe that erotic romances allow readers to vicariously experience things which they might not yet be ready to try in real life. Or, they can share things which they might not believe two people are able to enjoy together. Once they get comfortable with fictional experiences, hopefully they will give themselves permission to explore their own erotic desires and that of their partner.
I also think that the kinds of positive experiences about which one reads in an erotic romance can, at least in part, help to ease the memories of past experiences which were not so positive. Over the years, more than one woman acquaintance has confided in me that her first time was disappointing and unsatisfying. That is one of the reasons I wrote Deflowering Daisy, to provide an alternative first time experience for those women who might want one. My hope is that my readers will think David got it right, giving Daisy an experience they, too, can enjoy, no matter what might have happened to them in the past.
Find out more about Kathryn Kane: