- How did your writing journey start?
Probably when I learned I could go to a place called a library and – gasp! – take books home. Those books opened up new worlds to me, worlds a kid growing up in a quiet Washington, DC suburban neighborhood could only imagine. I spent time with Winnie the Pooh and Laura Ingalls, Narnia and the Pevensie children, Mary Lennox and Nancy Drew. I devoured those stories, and many more besides, and decided I wanted to write stories like that one day, too.
- Tell us about your amazing new ebook series?
It came about accidentally. My first series for Carina UK, Dating Mr Darcy, consisted of three books I’d written with overlapping characters. Because the first book was called Prada and Prejudice, my agent and Carina decided to give the next two books Jane Austen-y titles as well to tie them all together. The problem was, the stories were only (very) nebulously based on Austen. They were first and foremost chick lit / romantic comedies. But when the marketing team came up with the Dating Mr Darcy series title, my Jane Austen fate – intentional or not – was set.
So the new Jane Austen Factor series was my deliberate attempt to put a modern spin on three beloved Austen classics – Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. I hope I succeeded in creating stories that (a) remain true to the spirit of Austen but (b) have a fresh outlook at the same time. It was scary to attempt such a daunting task, since it’s impossible to follow in Austen’s footsteps, but I gave it my best shot. I had fun, too. Win-win!
- Have you always loved Austen? Who is your favourite female and male character?
To be honest, I really wasn’t much into the Austen thing when I started writing. *hangs head in shame* Oh, I’d seen the films and the BBC miniseries; like every other female, I’d ogled Colin Firth in his damp shirt and raced off to read Pride and Prejudice forthwith, and I had a passing familiarity with Regency cant from reading a few Georgette Heyer novels.
But it wasn’t until I saw Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet that I came to fully understand and appreciate Miss Austen’s skill as both a writer and a keen observer of human behavior.
My favorite female Austen character is unquestionably Emma Woodhouse. She’s that irritating person who thinks she knows best for all concerned…and doesn’t. Yet at heart, despite her high-handed snobbery and interference, she really does mean well.
And while I know I should say Mr Darcy is my favorite male character (and he is amazing), I find Mr Knightley to be more approachable, a bit more human, despite his fondness for criticizing poor, misguided Emma. (But she deserves it, doesn’t she?) I like that Knightley sees the good in Emma where perhaps no one else does; and that despite her meddling, and her snobbery, and her wrong-headedness, he still loves her.
- What is next for your writing?
I’ve got a book finished and another half finished, both set in the US. I set them aside last summer to work on the Jane Austen Factor series. The first story is set in Baltimore and deals with an Irish-American family; the second takes place in New York, in the publishing world. They both offer up plenty of romance and drama. I’m looking forward to returning to those projects.
- Do you have a formula for your writing? Do you write at a set time/place?
No formula; the only prerequisite to anything I write is that it has to fuel my enthusiasm enough to imbue me with a strong desire to see the story through to the end. And I have to love my characters, even (especially) the villain.
My best time to write is in the mornings. I’m rested and my brain on coffee is much sharper than my brain on fumes later in the day. By three PM I’m useless.
- Tell us about the people in your life
Well, there’s my husband Mark – known to everyone through my blogs as “Mr Oliver.” He’s my biggest fan and my best, most ardent supporter. And he doesn’t mind cooking when I’m on a deadline. So he’s a writer’s dream.
My sons Jay and James are grown, with kids of their own – so thanks to them, I’m lucky enough to have a grandson and two granddaughters. (But don’t tell anyone I’m a gran. It’s just between us.)
- What are your snacking/drinking necessities when writing?
Coffee. Coffee, and more coffee. Did I mention coffee?
Luckily, I’m not really hungry when I write – I’m so committed to getting stuff down on the page that hours just slide by with only coffee breaks or a granola bar to mark the passage of time. Maybe that could become a new diet – ‘The Writer’s Diet’ – where you can have all the coffee you want. But nothing else.
- Do you have a pet hate?
No, I really like pets. I even have a Belgian terrier named Duke.
Seriously, though. The one thing I really can’t stand is when someone talks down to someone else. I sometimes see people in restaurants talk to their servers like crap. Why do they do that? Stop it. Just stop it.
- Finally, if you could live in Austen times, would you? How do you think you would fare?
I would absolutely HATE to live in Austen times. I mean, no wifi? No iPad, no mobile phone? Not to mention a high likelihood of dying in childbirth and/or being married off to some guy with bad teeth? No, thank you.
While we tend to idealise the Regency period, the reality bore little resemblance to what’s typically portrayed in films. Roads were muddy and impassable for months at a time; body snatchers were a thing; visitors came to stay for weeks, even months, before leaving. You might be the richest, prettiest heiress in all of London, but once you married, your money became your husband’s property…and so did you. Who needs that?
So while I love the idea of the Regency, of the pretty, high-waisted gowns and silk slippers, and the cute Spencer jackets, I think I’d take a pass on actually living amongst the rakes and fashionable impures and just stay put where I am.
Besides, I’d complain so much I have no doubt they’d kick me right back to the future as fast as they could.
The third book in the series is out this week – exciting stuff!
More info below – lovely chatting with you Katie!
Who should rule – your head or your heart?
When sisters Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are forced to leave their family home to live in a rural Northumberland cottage, Marianne is convinced her social life is over. Somehow, she can’t see kitten heels coping well in the countryside – and being stuck in the middle of nowhere, miles from London, sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry. Not to mention her arrogant new boss, Dr Brandon, who doesn’t seem to think much of her city ways.
When she meets the gallant, charming and handsome Mr Willoughby, Marianne begins to think that country life might not be so bad after all…especially when he suggests that marriage might be on the cards. But the countryside still has a few tricks up its sleeve for Marianne…after all, love rarely blossoms in the most convenient places!
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter
Amazon Author Page US: http://www.amazon.com/author/katieoliver
Amazon Author Page UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Katie-Oliver/e/B00HGQ93VS
Carina UK/Pink Ink blog/website – https://pinkinkladies.wordpress.com
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband, two parakeets, and a dog.
Katie’s been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.
BUY LINKS: Who Needs Mr Willoughby?