Hello everyone! If you have even seen one of my posts this week then it will not have escaped your noticed that this week is Kate McMurray Week! I’ve been devoting the whole week to the author who charmed me with Out in the Field, by reviewing her backlist. Today, I’ll share with you my interview with Kate, where we talk about her new release, Save the Date, living in New York City, her love of baseball, and of course, her writing process.
In addition, Kate has offered one commenter a copy of Save the Date, so look below for details and don’t forget to comment, ask questions and share your opinions, please!
Bold – Me
Purple – Kate
Hi Kate! First off, thanks for visiting today. Since I’ve been reading all your books over the last few weeks I’ve got a lot of questions for you!
Thank you very much for doing this, Cole. I am happy to be here.
Save the Date is a romantic comedy novella styled somewhat after every Julia Roberts movie you’ve ever seen, about a guy who needs a date for his ex’s wedding. Lots of funny things happen on his way to the wedding.
I found it to be a really perfect book for summer. Maybe it’s the whole June Wedding thing, which is now the Gay June Wedding thing 😉 How did the idea for the book come about?
The seed started when, no joke, I got an invitation to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I joked on Twitter that if my life were a romance novel, I’d go to the wedding and meet the love of my life. A few of my friends were like, “So you’re totally going to write that story, right?” So I ran with that.
I wanted to ask you something specific about Save the Date, that’s really just for my own curiosity. I finished the book feeling like I didn’t quite know Darren that well, or even as much as Stuart, and that I would have liked to have seen how their relationship progresses into their life together after the story ends. Did you specifically write the book as a more personal journey for Tris? Or did the story just organically progress the way it did because of the whole setup of the story, which has Tris in such an awkward place?
The story is really Tris’s journey. He thinks he’s fine until he gets that wedding invitation, which both brings up a lot of what he calls “emotional sludge” that he hadn’t dealt with when he and Stuart broke up, but also it sort of highlights how not fine he has been all along. I also didn’t want Darren to cure him, but instead for Tris to do the work to heal himself on his own. That’s really important I think, or else Tris could just keep repeating the same patterns. So the crucial part of the story is really when Tris arrives in Boston and has to confront his past head-on. Only then can he prepare for his future.
In the book, Tris is quite a funny character and the book has rather a lot of humor. It got me thinking about types of characters that authors tend to write and I realized that I haven’t really found a “type” that you write. Like your books, you seem to have a rather diverse group of them. Looking back over what you’ve written, have you found that you tend to be a character-driven author or a plot-based one? Does one come before the other in your writing process?
It varies. I usually come up with a premise first and build the story out from there. The premise is usually pretty basic, a vague idea or a trope I want to play around with. Out in the Field, for example, happened primarily because I read an old baseball romance (with a het couple) that kind of offended me as a fan of the sport and I thought, “I want to write a gay baseball romance” and then I was off to the races. Plot and character go so hand-in-hand that they sort of develop at the same time. I think character informs plot significantly, especially in stories with a lot of internal conflict, because a character’s personality can affect the decisions he makes, which can change the whole arc of a story. Matt in Out in the Field is cautious and doesn’t like change, he doesn’t want to rock the boat or bring attention to himself, so he wouldn’t be the guy who would choose to come out while still an active player. His behavior in that regard affects the trajectory of his relationship with Iggy. And so on.
I know that you live in New York City, and I’ve wondered before if that’s why I always found your books to be really firmly rooted in setting, like in Across the East River Bridge where Brooklyn is like a third character in Finn and Troy’s relationship, or in Kindling Fire with Snow where Prospect Park comes across so perfectly in the snow. Is pride in your city just part of being a New Yorker and that’s why the city always seems to come across so strong in your books? Or is it something that you don’t think about at all and just seems to come through naturally?
I really love books that are firmly rooted in setting. I love lots of nitty gritty details. I love Faulkner and Toni Morrison, and both of those writers set many of their stories in fictional regions based on real places, and those settings are so vivid they become another character. So writing vivid settings is a conscious choice. And New York is easy, since I live in the middle of it, and it’s such a robust setting. That was one of the fun things about writing Across the East River Bridge, which really is a love letter to Brooklyn. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for seven years now and it’s so interesting and beautiful that I’m surprised more stories aren’t set here. I also wanted to write New York in the way I’ve experienced it, which I don’t see represented in books or TV or movies that often.
But even when I’m not writing about New York, I like having a strong setting. Four Corners is set mostly in Chicago, for example. I have a lot of family in Chicago, so I’ve been there many times, but I don’t have a native’s sense of the city, so I found a couple of beta readers in Chicago and ran the book by them first, just so I didn’t get anything egregiously wrong. I hate to say it, but I have often gotten yanked right out of a story set in New York when an author gets some little detail absolutely wrong. So I research like a crazy person—I even research New York—because I want the story to be accurate.
What was your first published book? What made you decide to write, or write m/m romance? Why did you decide to publish?
I’ve been writing since forever. I honestly can’t even say what the first thing I wrote was. But it took a while to figure out my voice. I spent a lot of my twenties writing literary fiction that didn’t really go anywhere and probably wasn’t very good, and then, maybe six years ago, I heard this story on NPR about the Romance Writers of America convention and it kind of rekindled my interest in reading romance. (I read a lot of romance as a teenager, but then I went off to college and got an English lit degree and was kind of a pretentious literary snob for a while. I got over that, thank goodness!) After that, I devoured romance novels like I was starving. I can’t remember how I found m/m, exactly—probably Suzanne Brockmann and Adrien English figured prominently in that discovery—but once I found it, I wanted to read more stories like that. When I couldn’t really find any, I wrote my own, a romantic suspense novel about a closeted gay cop. A friend read it and thought it was pretty good, so I submitted it to Loose Id because they were publishing most of the gay romance I was reading. That book became In Hot Pursuit.
We were speaking of NYC before… Will you list both 3 things you love about the city and three things you hate about it?
Three things I love: There is always something to do or see; it’s nearly impossible to ever be bored. I love walking around the city and that I don’t need a car; everything I need is available via foot or subway. And I love the weird history hidden in New York; NYC is a very forward-looking city that is forever tearing down beautiful old buildings to build ugly monolithic skyscrapers, but there are lots of hidden corners of the city that are like walking into the past.
Three things I hate: I could definitely do without the crowds, particularly when people line up for things. The subway in the summertime is the worst—hot and smelly and terrible. And everything is so expensive, in a way you never quite adjust to.
How about reading? What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading a couple of books on the history of England for no real reason beyond that I’m interested in the subject. Well, I read a bunch of Regency romances in a row in May and now I kind of want to write one, but we’ll see about that. Maybe sometime in the future. (Regency romances are my candy. Even when they’re all kind of the same, I still love them.) I have picked up a staggering number of books in the last month, at RT and then BEA last week, and I kind of want to read all of them right now. It’s an odd mix of romance and nonfiction, which is most of what I read these days.
I’ve been listening to the newish Tegan & Sara album Hearthrob on repeat a lot lately. I love them. I love Florence + the Machine. And I just bought the new Natalie Maines solo album; the Dixie Chicks are basically the one country band I ever liked. (I like strong female vocalists and singer/songwriters, basically, although I listen to pretty much everything. Opera and jazz have figured highly into the soundtracks for several of my writing projects recently, for example.)
Food? Oh yeah, food is an important one 🙂 Do you have a favorite restaurant in the city?
I do enjoy food. 🙂 Asian food in particular; that’s another thing I love about New York is that I can get pad thai delivered pretty much whenever I want it. Choosing a favorite restaurant is hard. The two places in my neighborhood I eat at most often are probably this sushi place called Geido—I actually brought Damon Suede there once; it’s got one wall covered completely in graffiti left by customers, but also the food is affordable and super tasty—and a Mexican place called Chavela’s that has the best mole I’ve ever had.
Are you a sports person? You better tell me all about your love of baseball! If you don’t it will completely ruin my love of Out in the Field 😉 Have you always been a baseball person or is there a specific reason? And do you like any other sports?
Fear not; I am a life-long Yankees fan. My dad is a huge sports fan, and he brought me and my brothers to Yankees games every summer starting when I was about 12, so that’s where the baseball fanaticism started. I try to make it to Yankee Stadium at least once a summer and I yell at my TV a lot during the playoffs. I really love the sport—it’s not aggressive in the way football and hockey are, and baseball has a fascinating, rich history. I’d probably watch more sports if I had the time; I’ll get into college basketball if my alma mater is having a good season, for example, and some winters I follow football. Sports are just fun; I like getting caught up in a good nail-biter of a game.
I know you have several works planned for the rest of the year. Will you tell us what you have coming up?
Well, speaking of baseball, I’m contributing a novella to a baseball anthology due out from Dreamspinner this fall, hopefully in time for GayRomLit. I collaborated with Shae Connor, Marguerite Labbe, and Kerry Freeman to put the whole anthology together. The story is my first foray into historical romance; it takes place in New York in 1927 during the height of the Jazz Age, and it’s a romance between a flamboyant sports reporter and a reticent rookie player for the New York Giants. It’s called “One Man to Remember.” The working title for the anthology is Playing Ball.
But first, I have a story coming out this summer (July, I think) called “What There Is” that is a simple romance about a former pro baseball player—and I swear, all this baseball in 2013 is a coincidence—who moves into a new apartment with a statistics nerd for a roommate. Now that he can’t play baseball anymore due to injury, he wants to find something to fill that void in his life.
And then I have a novel coming out this fall—again, hopefully in time for GRL—called The Stars that Tremble that is an opposites-attract romance between a man who used to be one of the greatest living male opera singers until a vocal injury ended his career and a humble construction worker who has had a lot of tragedy in his life. The novel is about love and music and recovering from loss. I am so, so excited for this book to be published.
Tell us where we can find you online?
Thank you so much Kate! It’s been wonderful having you and you don’t know how much I enjoyed reading all your books and putting together the reviews for all of them. Rarely have I enjoyed reading so many of one authors books back to back and not found it a chore.
Save the Date, Kate’s new book is available now from Loose Id!
Tomorrow is the last novel review of Kate’s backlist, with The Boy Next Door. Then, Saturday ends Kate McMurray Week with a review of Kate’s four available shorts: Lead Us Not, from the 2012 M/M Romance Goodreads Group’s “Love is Always Write” event; “On the Stoop”, a free Halloween story previously published by Dreamspinner in 2012 for their Halloween Howl event (and no longer available there); A Walk in the Dark, published by Dreamspinner in the 2011 Advent Calendar; and last, a free short from Kate’s website called “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring”.
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Save the Date by Kate McMurray. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Tuesday, June 11. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to Kate so the winner can receive their ebook!
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck! And thanks for visiting today and this week for Kate McMurray Week!