Q&A With Kelly Bowen
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Q&A With Kelly Bowen
Tonight I have the honor of doing a Q&A with bestselling author of historical romance and historical fiction Kelly Bowen. Kelly is the writer of “The Lords of Worth Series,” “ Season for Scandal Series,” “ Devils of Dover Series,” “Regency Anthologies, “ “The Paris Apartment,” and coming May 16th 2023 “Garden of Lost Secrets”.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize your calling was to be a writer?
A: Writing was always something that I enjoyed but never seriously pursued until much later in life. I have a BSc in Agriculture (Animal Science) and an MSc in veterinary physiology and endocrinology and spent many happy years working as a research scientist in the agriculture industry. I wrote my first book after my first son was born (a book that will never again see the light of day). The novel was pretty terrible but I fell in love with the process of storytelling. I wrote more novels and eventually sold the fifth story that I wrote, book 1 in my Lords of Worth series.
Q: What’s your advice to anyone wanting to write historical fiction? What’s your advice to anyone who struggles with writers block?
A: I’ve heard lots of people say if you write what you love then it will never really be work. Partially true – writing any book is a whole lot of work but it is absolutely a labour of love. For historical fiction (or historical romance for that matter) I would tell an aspiring author to find the story that they would like to tell and then research it thoroughly. There is always room for artistic license but the real history is something that you want to get right no matter what story you tell.
As for writers block, I don’t write in a linear fashion at all, meaning that I don’t necessarily start with chapter 1, then write chapter 2, then go on to chapter 3. Often, I write scenes that are in my head that are in no particular order. If I run into a ‘block’ and don’t know what happens next, I’ll just skip ahead to another part of the book where I know exactly what I want to happen. Usually writing ahead will inspire the answer for the original block.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: I wish. Maybe one day!
Q: For the readers of the blog can you tell us a little bit about what “Garden of Secrets,” is about? All I know is it takes place during World War II.
A: The Garden of Lost Secrets is a dual narrative (past/present). The main female protagonist in the past narrative is loosely based on the very real life of Hannie Schaft, a Dutch resistance fighter. I’ve attached the blurb here.
The Netherlands,1940: Stasia Niemec might call the port city of Rotterdam home, but it is the summers she spends in the idyllic French countryside that she looks forward to every year. Here, in a land of medieval folklore and courtly romance, she finds the inspiration for the fairy tales she writes and illustrates. Here too, in the seemingly abandoned gardens of an old chateau, she meets Alexandre Navarre and forms an unbreakable childhood friendship that promises to blossom into something more as they become older. But before they can realize their dream of a future together, Germany invades, Stasia’s beloved city of Rotterdam is destroyed, and she witnesses unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by Hitler’s occupying forces.
France, 2021: Siblings Isabelle and Emilie Lange grew up enchanted by the fairy tales written and illustrated by their great-grandmother about the magical gardens secreted behind the once-magnificent 18th-century chateau that lies just outside Rouen. Together, they start to unravel the mystery and uncover the role that the chateau played during the Second World War. As they do so, they realize that the gardens featured in the fairy tales written by their great-grandmother also hide a far darker story. Discovering the identity and fate of two unheralded heroes who accomplished extraordinary feats of courage against overwhelming odds brings the sisters together once again and reminds them what matters most.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part about writing historical romance and historical fiction? Do you say you prefer to write one genre over the other one?
A: My favourite part about writing either genre is the research. I have always been an amateur history buff and now having to dive into archives and history books and museums as part of my job is an absolute joy.
My least favourite part about writing historical fiction or romance is the occasions where you’ve written your characters saying something witty and clever, only to discover that that word or phrase has not yet been invented for another decade. It is a bit of a fine line, more so with novels set in the early nineteenth century – as a writer you try to be as accurate as possible with etymology but at the same time, you are still writing for a modern audience. Using an obscure (but correct) phrase can sometimes jar a reader from the flow of the story if the meaning is unknown.
And honestly, I have no preference between historical romance or historical fiction. They each have the history aspect which I enjoy so much!
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If you are is it apart of any of your regency era series or is it another standalone like “The Paris Apartment,” and “Garden of Lost Secrets”?
I am writing another WW2-set novel right now. It will also be a standalone, and the reader will get to travel with my characters from France to the Mediterranean coasts of North Africa to square off against Rommel and a particularly crafty Abwehr spy. I don’t have a pub date for this one yet (or a title) but I anticipate it releasing in late 2023 or early 2024.
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author who would it be with and why?
A: One of my all-time favourite authors of historical fiction is Bernard Cornwell. He writes extraordinary action and wonderfully flawed characters that consume you until the very last page. I would love to be able to collaborate (and learn!) from him.