Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Author Interview: Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay's Dear Mr. Knightley is one of my favourite books of the year. Bar none. I knew immediately I had found a kindred spirit as DMK reminded me immediately of Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster and The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery ( you all know that is a fav of mine).  Katherine and I began having little chats on FB and then the book was released and I realized EVERYONE ELSE WAS DYING OF LOVE for DMK too!  My official review is posted on Breakpoint and  here is a Q and A Katherine Reay was kind enough to take part in :-)

And note: this is by far far NOT another Jane Austen pastiche. So don't you worry about having to read Knightley's secret diaries---capiche? capiche.
And another note: I AM SO PEEVED I never got the chance to meet her for REAL at ACFW --- rats! next year

Find her on Facebook

1.) Epistolary novels. Few and far between these days. What were some of the challenges of writing in this format? Some of the pleasures?

You are so right. It’s a highly under-appreciated form and keeping DMK in letters was my greatest challenge. Everyone who read it said it was “too tough,” and “wouldn’t sell.” Thomas Nelson never said that. *cheer* Now I will admit, a final edit change compelled me to write that last section outside a letter – great symbolism there – and it worked for Sam’s journey.

As for the pleasures – every writer should attempt at least one epistolary novel. They are so fun! Letters are unique – the reader almost feels like it presents a first person view, but it does not. It’s even better. There’s a delicious layer we see that Sam can’t – there is what she is willing to tell Mr. Knightley, what she tries to withhold and how she interprets events – any or all of which can look to different to us than to her. The epistolary format allowed me to really explore Sam’s limited perspective and twist it about occasionally. I especially loved playing with Mr. Knightley’s anonymity, Josh’s subtle selfishness and Professor Muir’s feistiness.

2.) Daddy Long Legs obviously informs Dear Mr. Knightley in lovely homage. Can you tell us about your reading experience with that--and some of your other favourite novels?

I fell in love with Daddy Long Legs when I was about twelve and never let it go. Other favorites? Obviously Austen – all of them. I admit Catherine Moreland bugged me for years, but we’ve reconciled and I call her a friend now. I also have a fantasy side to my personality, a mystery side, a non-fiction bent, a… I love to read. Tough to pin me down.

3.) What's next in the pipeline?

Lizzy and Jane is next and it’s in the editing process right now. It will be out next fall and I’m so excited. Lizzy had more humor and confidence available to her than Sam did. But she’s got some struggles ahead of her as well – can’t make life too easy on her.

This story has all the big guns: sisters, conflict, food, Jane Austen, Hemingway (threw you there, didn’t I?), love, and breast cancer. I know that last one is a bummer, but it’s a reality that so many of us experience either personally or walking the journey with family and friends.

Basically Lizzy and Jane is the story of a young woman, Lizzy, who has excised love from her life and, as she helps her sister through chemotherapy, she starts to put it back in – in all its wonderful and varied forms.

4.) If you could sit down with any author---dead or alive---and chat it out at Starbies, who would you choose?

So tough… I think today I would choose G.K. Chesterton. I’ve been digging into him a lot lately and there is such breadth, wisdom and joy in his writing. He’s also terribly quotable. I found this gem this morning: “Thanks are the highest from of thought. Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” Lovely. And this one is good too: “If a man does not talk to himself, it is because he is not worth talking to.” Very important for me as I am often my own best conversationalist.

5.) Can we be friends? Like, bestest watch-Emma-in-our-pjs-while-giggling-friends?
We’re well on our way already! We only lack a singular time zone, popcorn and M&Ms to dump in the bowl.

6.) Darcy or Knightley (please say Knightley. You can take him places and present him in a social situation without rolling your eyes or cringing at his lack of social aptitude)
Absolutely Knightley, no question. And while you bring up good points, there’s something else to consider… You can be yourself around Knightley. He will love you for who you are and not expect anything more. Darcy might look into your eyes someday and find them not so fine or your figure not so pleasing or your wit not sobright and sparkling. I don’t know about you, but that’s too much pressure for me.

7.) Have you read the Blue Castle? What did you think ;)
Okay… Seriously? I was absolutely blown away by the ending. I would like to go record here as stating that I did not even know about Blue Castle until last month. I have the Facebook conversations to prove it. J But the ending felt so much like the ending to Dear Mr. Knightley that my jaw dropped – fell to the floor to be hoisted up in awe. They felt the same! How is that possible?

8.) You do something amazing: you write a CBA novel while threading the themes of grace and Christianity subtly--making it one of those rare books that can be easily read by non-Christians who wouldn't usually pick up a Christian novel. Was this a conscious decision?
I so want to say that I’m just that brilliant – but that’s not true.  I will admit that when I tried to lay a more seeking heart into Sam, she rebelled and it came off heavy-handed and preachy. Now, that said, such a heart was not my original intention for her – I’m just saying that I did try it.

What I intended to do and what won out in the end – was the story of a young woman seeking for answers, a place to stand, a voice of her own, people to love and something to believe. And I think we can all relate to that. I truly believe we all believe something. Even if we say we believe nothing – that in and of itself is something.

So before I get too long-winded – Yes it was conscious and I am so deeply grateful it worked and Sam’s story speaks to people.


Rissi said...

Katherine, loved seeing you over here! Fun interview ladies - and CANNOT wait for the follow up book next year. DMK was beautiful.

Heather NZ said...

Okay, I really want to read DMK now. Normally I try to stay away from Austen spinoffs, but you've convinced me. I've always loved Blue Castle, but had never heard of Daddy-Long-Legs until I read your post. I have now corrected that and added it to my list of faves.