Q&A With Cathy Maxwell
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Q&A With Cathy Maxwell
Cathy Maxwell is the New York Times Bestselling novels of historical romance and while they can all be read as standalone novels they are part of many series and there’s recurring characters. Cathy’s series are, The Marriage Novels, The Cameron Sisters Novels, The Scandals and Seduction Novels, The Chattan CurseNovels, The Brides of Wishmore Series, Marrying the Duke Series, The Spinster Heiress Series, The Logical Man’s Guide to Dangerous Women Series & the first novel in The Gamblers Daughters Series, A Kiss In the Moonlight coming March 2023.
Q: Cathy, when did you realize you wanted to write a historical romance?
A: The bigger question is—when did I know I wanted to write? Writing book had always been in the back of mind, which I believe is true for most avid readers. I even wrote it down on a goal list when I was twenty-four. I had no idea what I wanted to write, but I dreamed of being an author.
Then I read FIERCE EDEN by Jennifer Blake. That book completely captured my imagination and taught me the true scope and breadth of historical romance. I was completely lost in the story, the characters, and the history. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to write historical romance. I could not read enough of them. I also began writing the first draft of a book that will never see the light of day. But everyone must begin somewhere!
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to write a great historical romance? (I think this is the question you are asking me. If not, I will amend my answer. But I’m going to answer this question)
A: The most important thing I must remember is that I am writing a romance, not a treatise on history. I adore reading about the pageantry of a period. I go down rabbit holes researching obscure details. But ultimately, a historical romance is about two people falling in love. They may save a nation, stop an uprising, or battle for great truths—but I read for that moment they fall in love. What did they see in each other that sparked that special “click?” And once they realize they are in love, what are they going to do about it?
I also confess that, as a reader, I hold the right to judge whether or not they would be good for each other. I think of myself as their closest friend, hearing all the juicy details while keeping my Spidey senses up.
Q: How do you deal with writers block if you do deal with it? Would you advise someone to deal with writers block the same way you do?
A: I struggled when my husband died. And then I realized that, after losing him, if I lost my desire to write, I would have truly lost everything. So, I went on, one word after another.
It hasn’t been easy. A writing career is never easy. There have been times I’ve written with my heart in my throat out of fear. I’ve worried that the story would never gel, or that I would not have a new idea, or that I would get panned, but I kept going.
As long as I feel good and have a story to tell, I shall write. When I have nothing left to say (which is not like being blocked), then I will stop writing. But I will not quit out of fear.
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author who would it be with and why?
A: If I were to collaborate, it would be with authors who spark my thinking, make me laugh, or push me to a new level. So many choices—there are my buddies Lorraine Heath and Elizabeth Boyle who are taking on different time periods. I am a fan of all the Avon writers. I value their strong voices and their willingness to write the story as they hear it. For depth of character there is Loretta Chase and Patricia Camden (really going old school here) and Connie Brockway, for intensity, Anne Stuart and Jennifer Blake. Then there are the authors I admire because of the way they have run their careers—Madeline Martin, Eliza Knight, Leonora Bell, Nora Roberts, Heather Graham.
I think the real advantage to collaborating is the opportunity to have a peek into great minds. For this reason, I love interviewing authors and learning how they work and what they value in their storytelling. I think Tessa Dare is fascinating in that she truly understands her readers, and trusts them! That is powerful.
By the way, the list doesn’t end with these names. There are writers who just create and let the market catch up to them. I admire Abigail Owens and Mary Strand for that reason. Oh, Vanessa Riley! She’s just bold in what she does.
The list goes on and on. I believe that some of the best writers in this country today are writing romance. They also understand the meaning of the world “and.” They write romance and they write historicals (Vanessa Riley, Laura Kamoie aka Laura Kaye) and they write articles (Shirlene Obuobi), and they are doing podcasts (Sarah MacLean) and they blazed trails (Beverly Jenkins).
Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting over here writing my beloved historicals. That is okay, too.
Q: If you were to write in a genre that wasn’t historical romance, which genre would you choose and why?
A: I really don’t know. I am asked this question from time to time and I have no answer. So far, I haven’t had a desire to write in another genre. I enjoy reading across the board—nonfiction, literary, mystery, women’s contemporary . . . but I haven’t felt an urge to pen one. My genre is so expansive, there is nothing I can’t tackle in it. Historical romance can be brooding, light-hearted, serious, or funny. There are mysteries to be solved, relationships to explore, and cultural differences to be evaluated. I think I have my hands full.
Q: Can you tell the readers of the blog and I what A Kiss in the Moonlight is about? I know it comes out in March of 2023 but what date?
A: A KISS IN THE MOONLIGHT is the first book of the “Gambler’s Daughters” series. I believe the biggest gamble anyone can take in life is falling in love. It makes us all so vulnerable and calls upon us to trust in a big way. Trust life, trust another person, trust that we matter and we are enough? To trust that it is okay to leave the past behind and look to the future? It’s easier to hide.
The Lanscarr sisters set off to find husbands in London. They are genteel Irish. Dara, the middle sister, is convinced all three of them could marry a duke, if they get a chance to meet one. She’s a planner at heart who hasn’t ever met a rule she doesn’t admire—until she needs to break it.
And here is Dara’s challenge–life never goes the way we plan. That’s the gamble and also the bane of all planners. Choosing someone to marry isn’t like going to the market and deciding on a peach because it is ripe. Nothing is ever that simple . . . because love always plays by its own rules.
The book hits the shelves March 28.
Q: Does Hollywood have any interests or rights to your novels? Hollywood is in desperate need of originality. I could picture your novels as being great television series for Masterpiece Theater on PBS or on Netflix.
A: I love the way you think. From your lips to Hollywood’s ears! Thank you. No nibbles yet, but one can always hope.
Q: What advice do you give to new authors on how to deal with negative critiques whether it’s from online trolls, reviews and family and friends who aren’t supportive of their writing goals?
A: Negative people will always be with us. Family members can’t picture us writing a book or worry that we will have our feelings hurt or wish we’d do something more productive with our time. Critics are exactly that, critical. Someone asked their opinion and they have one. Trolls are the most annoying because they really have no agenda except to be jerks. Reviews can be disheartening because it is tough to be judged. I’ve had bad reviews I’ve agreed with and good ones that made me scratch my head. The same is true for critiques.
Here is my secret: I wrote the book. I accomplished something that none of those you mentioned have even attempted for the most part. No matter what is said, my book is out there. I’m living my life on my terms, I’m doing what gives me pleasure, and I’ve shared a story with the world. While most people are sitting on their living room couches watching television and critiquing, I’M CREATING! And no one can take that away from me. My book will be standing long after the reviews and harsh words are gone and buried.
By the way, any writer who pushes genre or creative boundaries has been criticized. Books we consider genre classics today were once denigrated for not conforming, for being too whatever. Some of those being dismissive were editors. Learn to trust your gut. Push those boundaries. Don’t conform because you think you must. Write your book.
And keep writing. We grow stronger by doing what we love.
Q: I know you are always writing. Can you reveal any new projects you’re working on now?
A: Book 2 of the Gambler’s Daughters. I’m wrestling and wrestling with it. Book stories never go the way I plan. I can commiserate with Dara.