Welcome to another edition of Author Influences. This week my guest is the lovely Catherine Kullman, author of Perception and Illusion and The Murmur of Masks.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I read voraciously as a child. I had tickets for two libraries and went to both at least twice a week. Authors I remember include Susan Coolidge (What Katy Did and sequels), Louisa M Alcott (Little Women and sequels) Enid Blyton (Everything, but my favourites were the Adventure series), Rex Dixon (Pocomoto series—about an orphan boy brought up two old prospectors in the ‘wild west’), Elinor M Brent-Dyer (Chalet School series). I also read a lot of non-fiction, in particular biography. In my teens, I moved on to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Dickens, Trollope, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L Sayers, and Irish authors such as Frank O’Connor. I also read a lot of poetry and essays. I loved the romantic poets and the metaphysical ones such as John Donne and essayists such as Charles Lamb and Joseph Addison. Looking back, it is easy to see that I was laying the foundations for writing historical fiction set in the early nineteenth century.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved it and was very good at it. We had anthologies of prose and poetry at school and each year would study a different selection but I read them cover to cover. I also loved writing essays, whether relating to the texts we studied or on more general themes.
What genres do you like to read?
I love reading historical fiction but when reading for pleasure tend to look for eras and/or locations outside my own. I also like historical crime, especially set pre WWII. I would read more contemporary crime but find a lot of what is written today bleak and very violent. Favourite authors still writing include Sara Donati (historical), Susanna Kearsley (historical– dual timeline) Barbara Cleverly (Historical mystery) Margaret Maron, Wendy Hornsby ( both contemporary mystery). I also love Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, and Nalini Singh, all of whom write urban fantasy/paranormal romance.
Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
All of the above writers are excellent story-tellers and I am sure that I have learnt a lot from them.
I also read a lot of nineteenth century writing – novels, poetry, memoirs, autobiography, journals, magazines, children’s books etc. etc. Reading works that are contemporary to my period gives me an excellent insight into it and inspires me in so many ways.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I am very happy where I am at present. If anything, I might experiment with a different form, such as a short story, or even poetry.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Every author who has gripped me and taken me into their world has encouraged me. Specifically, Jane Austen who transformed the English novel, bringing a deceptive lightness and ironic comedy to what previously had been overly sensational, moralistic or both, and Georgette Heyer who was the creator of the Regency novel as historical fiction.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
All the ones mentioned in No. 3 above.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Susanna Kearsley’s A Desperate Fortune. The two stories, those of Jacobite Mary who keeps a secret journal in the eighteenth century and modern-day Sara who is trying to decode it, are gripping, thrilling and touching. Mary and Sara are so different and so real, the characterization is wonderful and the treatment of Sara, in particular, very moving.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not consciously, but as they all emerge from my subconscious, I am sure they have.
Thank you for taking part, Catherine. I really enjoyed reading your responses to my questions.
Catherine’s latest book, Perception and Illusion, is out now. Here is what it’s about:
Does a fairy-tale ending always guarantee Happy Ever After?
England 1814: Brought up by her late grandparents after the death of her mother, Lallie Grey is unaware that she is their heiress. When her father realises that he will soon lose control of his daughter’s income, he conspires to marry her off to his crony, Frederick Malvin in exchange for a share of her capital. But Lallie has fallen in love with Hugo Tamrisk, heir to one of the oldest titles in England. When Hugo not only comes to her aid as she flees the arranged marriage, but later proposes to her, all Lallie’s dreams have come true. She readily agrees to marry him at once.
But past events casts long shadows. Hugo resents the interest his three elder sisters take in his new wife and thinks they have turned her against him. And then there is his former mistress, Sabina, Lady Albright. As Lallie finds her feet in the ton, the newly-weds are caught up in a comedy of errors that threatens their future happiness. She begins to wonder if he has regrets and he cannot understand her new reserve. A perfect storm of confusion and misunderstanding leads to a final rupture when Lallie feels she has no choice but to leave. Can Hugo win her back? Will there be a second, real happy end for them?
You can get your copy HERE.
Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. She is married and has three adult sons and two grandchildren.
Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. She is the author of The Murmur of Masks and Perception & Illusion. Both books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society.
You can find out more about Catherine and her books at her website www.catherinekullmann.com where she also blogs about historical facts and trivia in her Scrap Album. Her Facebook author page is fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor