Thursday, April 09, 2015

Thursday Talk Time - The Two of Us

Last week, my DH and I  celebrated an unusually important date in our careers – we both had
a  brand new publication date on the same day.

Many people know that my   DH (also, affectionately  known in writing circles as The Babe Magnet ) is also a writer.  For some years he’s been a part time writer, writing books in the time spare from being a university lecturer, but just recently things changed round  and the university job became the part time one and the writing took a much stronger place.
The Babe Magnet and I are very different sorts of writers. For one thing, he usually writes non-fiction.   He has many books on local history, the history of local crimes and  unsolved murders, that sort of thing. So much so that our son has labelled us  a with the names, Crime and Passion. It should have been Guns and Roses but someone else had that title!  H
e’s also written biographies  and social history – the Victorian novelist and Gilbert & Sullivan star George Grossmith, the painter Rowlandson,  The Girl Who Lived on Air.

So, obviously, he’s a very different sort of writer from me. Which I focus on fiction, and more specifically one type of  fiction, the Magnet ranges wide in  his interests, and to be honest I never quite know what subject he’s going to be researching next. It makes life interesting!
But just recently the Magnet has been widening the scope of his writing and working on fiction writing. And this is where that double publication date came in.  April 1 st was the official date on which my new title in the Mills & Boon Modern line – Olivero’s Outrageous  Proposal – was published .  And on the same date the Magnet’s book of short stories  with a Yorkshire voice ( he was born and grew up in  Leeds)  Uncle Albert was officially published.  So we had a joint publication date celebration.

It’s not often that our publishing schedules come together in this way. He writes for many different publishers while I am  published by one –Harlequin Mills & Boon – apart from my   12 Point Guide To Writing Romance.  So we felt we should mark this one and I had a joint interview with the two of us – each asking the other some questions about writing over on my blog.

People are often intrigued by the thought of having 2 writers in one house, and they want to know how it works. Well, the answer to that is   it works because of total separation! We both have separate rooms that we use to work in.  In a previous  house, we had to share a workroom – it was hell on earth for me.  I like to work in silence, concentrate totally, have lots of thinking time, get deep into my characters to tell their stories.   The Magnet loves music playing – loudly. Even worse it’s often jazz which I can’t stand and it totally destroys my chances of getting deeply involved with the all-important hero and heroine. How can I write some deep, emotional, black moment scene with some music that  feels like being hit over the head with small hammers  repetitively is playing? He also has to have lots of reference books all over,   taking over the desk space, and  is frequently getting up to select a new research volume from his huge library. How we managed to survive without divorce is a miracle!   Oh, and he always  - always works very very fast, and there is something terribly soul-destroying bout hearing (and seeing ) the other author banging out words at a vast rate sitting opposite you when you are wondering just what your hero’s motivation for doing THAT was.

The few times we really come together  are when we’re teaching. I never wanted to be a teacher. I was sure I would be no  good at it. So when I first started running courses on writing  romance I asked the Magnet for a lot of advice. He’d been teaching for years so he had lots of hints and ideas which really helped.  That’s why I dedicated the  12 Point Guide To Writing Romance to him.  Now we  work to our separate skills with me teaching writing romantic  fiction and other linked  topics  and
he runs courses on ‘Writing  Local’, historical research,  Journalling, Writing Memoirs – that sort of thing.   At Writers’ Holiday and on the Relax and WriteCourses we’ve become something of a double act and have been known to fit in a lecture or a  course if someone else has been taken ill or has had to go home for some reason. Crime and Passion to the rescue!

So when he turned his attention to writing more fiction, I was able to return the favour. We would sit in coffee shops and discuss  characters’ motivations, pacing a story, planning out a plot. He even read through the 12 Point Guide to get my wisdom on this!  At least those conversations were less likely to cause  a sensation if overheard, unlike the time when for some years he was a writer in residence in several prisons.   Then I had to be careful when and where I asked ‘Are you in prison this week’ as it got some strong reactions!

Next week our careers sort of intertwine again when we go to meet the publisher of Uncle Albert to discuss the launch of the book and events/signings to go with it.  One of the possibilities – because this is a book of stories about a Yorkshireman who loves a visit to a pub – is the thought of the launch being in a pub. The pub chosen (at least for this meeting) is the famous  Black Bull in Haworth. And a couple of years back, when I wrote my ‘Modernised’ version of Wuthering Heights, the Bronte Society invited me to  
speak about it – and to run a workshop on writing romance - in their  book festival. They even have a copy of  Return of The Stranger in the permanent collection of the Bronte Society library.
So – to sum up – is having two writers in the house double trouble or a recipe  for success. I suppose the answer is both,  but we’ve learned how to make it work. It does help to know that your partner is someone who understands the delights and despairs,  the pressures and the excitements of writing for a living.   To date, I think our joint total of published titles is about 150 books so something’s working. 

We aim to head for the 200 mark!

My  latest release  Olivero's Outrageous Proposal is out now in both M&B Modern and Harlequin Presents 

And the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance is now available both on Kindle and in a brand new, revised and updated paperback edition

You can catch up with all of Kate's news on her website  or on her blog.  You can also find her on her author page on Facebook.

If you want any more info about the  Babe Magnet and the wide variety of books he writes - then his web site is here.   We both list details of   any talks or courses that we run on the Events pages on these site.  There are courses coming up in  June,  September ( This one's just  for the Babe Magnet.  We do sometimes  do things separately!)  )   and October and more planned  for 2015.


  1. I cannot imagine it! It's exciting enough with a musician. We finally had to construct a dedicated office for me outside the house because of my need for quiet. Have you done that or have you adapted?

    1. Hi Liz. I understand your need for dedicated office - especially with a musician in the house. We bought our current house because it has a room built into where the garage used to be which is no my office. And then my DH has taken over an upstairs bedroom for his work - far enough away from me to give me the silence I need. But there are still occasional problems because my office opens on to the kitchen - and if he wants to make a cup of coffee . . .!

  2. Great post, Kate. I appreciate the separate offices approach to life. You can eat off the floor in The Prof's office here. You can barely find the floor in mine! Let me know what life is like when those cats start writing books. Will they get their own office, too, I wonder!

    1. Thank you Anne - seeing as you know the Usual Suspects, I'd think you'd get that bit extra out of this. As for the cats - well, as you know they have the run of the house already. And I think that Charlie (Chaz to you) would be affronted at the thought of having to lift a paw to do anything to earn his meat!

  3. Hi Kate. Really enjoyed reading this and I think it's great that you spend so much time together, albeit in separate rooms sometimes! And the number of books you have published is phenomenal - long may it continue.