2015 Pamlico Writers Conference and Competition
March 21, 2015 8:30am to 6pm
The Turnage Theatre
150 W. Main Street, Washington, NC 27889
Katharine Ashe www.KatharineAshe.com
Today post will be an interview with talented author Katharine Ashe. Ms. Ashe will be presenting an afternoon breakaway session, “Writing Inside a Genre Yet Outside the Box.” This workshop is intended for writers at all stages of the writing adventure and will be filled with information and fun for those who attend.
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Books of the Year in Romance, and How to Marry a Highlander, 2014 finalist for the prestigious RITA® Award of the Romance Writers of America. Her books are recommended by Publishers Weekly, Women’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, the Raleigh News & Observer, and many others, and translated into languages across the world.
Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History at Duke University, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about Katharine’s books, please visit www.KatharineAshe.com or write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717.
Q. Your fans know that you are a Professor of History at Duke University. Does this influence your novels or does your writing influence your teaching?
A. My love of scholarly history strongly influences the fiction I write. I’m not an antiquarian; I don’t love history for history’s sake, I don’t want to live “back then”, and I’m not enamored of the minutiae of historical daily life (though I certainly find it interesting). I study and teach history because I believe that in understanding what people have done in the past, what they have valued, and the mistakes they’ve made as well as the victories they have achieved, we can learn to become more humane, just and compassionate individuals and societies today. I write genre romance, which means that my stories are about a single hero and heroine’s love story, emphasizing the development of the love relationship, the conflicts that divide the hero and heroine, and the solutions that they come to individually and together and lead to their shared Happily Ever After. But I typically draw these stories upon a broader canvas of societal conflict. The lovers I write struggle with personal demons and misunderstandings, but they also confront societal challenges like racism, hunger, poverty, sexism, violence and other injustices. I write romance because I adore writing love stories, but they’re always embedded in larger themes.
Q. I love the fact that your heroines are strong women. Are they based on women in your life?
A. Thank you! My heroines possess the qualities I most admire in women I know—intelligence, creativity, independence, loyalty, honesty, an adventuresome spirit, and a loving heart—as well as strengths in women I admire from a distance. At least one of my heroines drew her most endearing qualities from my mother, and I’ve named a few of my heroines after my sisters.
Q. You say that your younger sister was your first fan. Was she the one who encouraged you to follow your writing dream?
A. Yes, as well as my parents and my older sisters and brother, and some friends as well—from the time I was a little girl. My husband and son are entirely supportive too. As most writers know, writing isn’t a particularly easy career. Writing genre romance is especially dicey for a writer who’s social and professional milieu doesn’t respect the genre, and sometimes loudly condemns it. I’ve been blessed with the support of my loved ones all through my writing journey. I can’t imagine how writers that don’t have support manage to keep their chins up and fingers typing, and I raise a glass in admiration of them.
Q. Romance often is treated with a lack of respect; have you ever felt the need or desire to defend your choice of writing genre?
A. For years I didn’t tell anyone other than my family and closest friends that I wrote romance. Now I’m entirely open about my career as a romance author. But I’m not so much interested in defending romance fiction, rather in teaching and discussing the history of the denigration of romance fiction, especially fiction written by women, for female authors and romance novels written by women have historically borne the lion’s share of condemnation from critics of the genre, even when their male counterparts wrote similar novels. This fascinates and disturbs me, especially since it’s still happening today. I’m currently co-teaching a course on this at Duke University, with romance author and Professor Laura Florand. This spring we’re also hosting a speaker’s series titled “UNSUITABLE” (http://sites.duke.edu/unsuitable/) in which we address the history of the industry, models of femininity and masculinity in romance fiction, and other topics that get at the roots of the prejudice against the genre.
Q. Even if I do not write Historical Romance, what might I learn from your session that would help me be a better writer?
A. I adore a deeply researched novel of any sort—historical novel, crime thriller, military adventure, cozy mystery, epic fantasy, or what have you. The more intricate and interesting the details of that novel’s world, the deeper I sink into the story. But it drives me crazy when I read a novel and can practically see the author sitting at a table in a library surrounded by massive tomes and cramming “research”, or consuming entire research websites, only to regurgitate it onto the page for the reader to swallow whole. Rich complexity in a novel is crucial to me, but too much dry detail on the page snatches me right out of a story. In my session I’ll talk about how I develop and write a fast-paced, character-based story that is thoroughly grounded in research but doesn’t ever get lost in it.
By Sherri Hollister
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21 days (March 8, 2015) left before our writing competition entry deadline. If you’re still working on your entry(s) you’ll need to hurry. For details and rules for the writing competition entries as well as a complete list of planned events and workshops for the conference, visit our website at www.pamlicowritersconference.org . Hurry and get those pieces ready and entered soon so they’ll be elligible.
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