Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in The Netherlands, longer ago than I care to think about. Went to school in Amsterdam, and when my father moved our family to England (he had dual nationality, which was permitted in those days) I studied fine art. Four years later, I had my BFA – only to find that no one wanted to hire a woman as a curator, manager of an art gallery, whatever. They were jobs reserved for men, but I could be his secretary.
I said, “And you’ll use my expertise while paying me a secretary’s wages. No way! You are all dinosaurs.” Not surprising, perhaps, they didn’t hire me.
I moved to Canada, and after some years I met and married Arnold Hofman, a truly fabulous man. With his encouragement I opened and operated my own fine art gallery, and I was so happy working there.
I’ve been a widow for some time now.
What inspires you to write?
Things I hear in my head. Usually, my next hero clamours for my attention before I’ve quite finished my present book. On the other hand, sometimes a hero is such a strong personality that he refuses to leave after I’ve finished my book. This was true of Luis de Cuevas, the hero of SINGLE FATHER SEEKS… I’m valiantly trying to get on with my next novel, and Luis won’t let me! Curiously enough, I never have heroines demanding my attention, always the heroes. Sometimes, something happens, or I hear something that asks to be used in a novel. If it is an insistent asking, I usually go along. I’ve never been sorry.
Do you find that your muse takes over when you write?
Oh yes, frequently. Then all I can do is type as fast as I can, and hope that when I read it back the next morning it will be good. Usually it is. I suspect that we write our books in our subconscious and our muse is merely our subconscious demanding attention.
Do you have any works in progress that you want to share?
Sure. I’ve just finished SINGLE FATHER SEEKS… The title is taken from a scene where the hero tells his lawyer that he’ll have to place an ad in the paper: Single Father Seeks Nanny for 4-yr old Son. His lawyer laughs and points out that the line-up of women will stretch around the block, and not one of them will be interested in being a nanny – they want Luis, my hero.
In spite of Luis and Suzy’s refusal to leave, I’ve started my next book, GOLDEN DREAMER. All my books with a blond hero have ‘Golden’ in the title, and invaribly CJ Hollenbach on the cover. The book is a bit of a depature for me – the hero Is somewhat psychic, and the housekeeper he hires is a true psychic. This will be lots of fun to research, but I’m very lucky in having a friend who is a gifted psychic, and she has offered to help me with things I can’t possibly know.
At the same time, I have DARK ANGEL half finished. I began it while I was recovering from hip replacement surgery, and suddenly I couldn’t continue. Reading it over, the other day, I wondered why I hadnt persevered, for I really like what I have, so far.
Ah well, that’ll be a new experience for me, writing two novels at the same time. I suppose it will depend on my mood which book I’ll work on.
What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?
Write, write and then write some more. The only way for you to find your voice is to write. I would suggest you resist the temptation to show your newly begun novel to friends. They will all have different opinions, and since you are perhaps still a bit insecure about writing, you’ll listen to them all. Don’t!
There are a few pitfalls I’d like you to be aware of. After you’ve finished a few pages, print them up and underline in red or whatever colour you fancy, every time you use the word ‘and’. You will probably find that you’re stringing sentences along too long!
Cut out ‘and’ as many times as possible. You will find your work reads more easily, and it looks tidier.
Another pitfall is the over-use of ‘a little’, and ‘very’. Go over your work and cut out 90% of ‘very’. Then work on the use of ‘a little’, and change them to ‘a bit’ or ‘somewhat’ or remove them altogether. Your work will suddenly sound more professional when you read it aloud to yourself. Always a good trick, reading it aloud. That’s how you can hear your own voice developing.
I wish you the best of luck, because once you’ve become a writer, there is nothing else that can make you feel so good. And there is that heady moment when your first book is accepted. Nothing else will ever feel quite like that.
What are your favorite books at the moment?
I love reading mysteries, and P.D. James and Ngaio Marsh are my favorites. And who could ignore Hercule Poirot! In the Romance department, I have recently read Miriam Newman’s SCION, and was blown away. I lent the book to a friend of mine, and when I gently reminded her that I’d like it back, she said I could have it when she’d read it a second time – this was not a book one read only once. And she was quite right.
Other writers I look for are Kathleen Eagle, Sheri Whitefeather, Nina Bruhns and her erotic alter ego Nikita Black. (Sigh) as usual, when I want to remember the writers whose work I love, I draw a total blank. When I’ve sent this to the interviewer, I’ll remember them, for sure.
What is your favorite word? Least favorite?
AND NOW FOR THE REST!!!
Excerpt from “CIRCLE OF LOVE”
Lydia—our heroine—flies to London to check on the much younger man her mother is raving about. She suspects he is a gigolo and intends buying him off. Now read on:
The flight to New York and on to London went without a hitch. The next morning around nine Lydia was at Heathrow, waiting for a taxi to take her to her mother’s apartment.
Her polite little buzz at the door was quickly answered by a uniformed maid.
“Miss Willoughby? Please come in. If you’ll leave your luggage here, I’ll put it into your room. Mrs. Willoughby is at the hairdresser’s, but I was to advise you she’d be back any time now. Through here, please, Miss Willoughby. This is the drawing- room.”
The maid stood aside and gestured to the room. Lydia thanked her and walked in. She looked around with pleasure. This was indeed a charming apartment. Glass doors were flanked by tall windows, giving a wonderful view of the Thames.
At that moment, a man entered the room from the balcony. He was faultlessly dressed in a dark business suit. Lydia could understand why her mother spent every available moment with him. He was, quite simply, stunning. Tall, long-legged, with a natural elegance and that rangy, loose-limbed build that made women’s mouths go dry—including her own, she had to admit. Another quick glance at his face confirmed her initial impression that he was the handsomest man she had ever seen. Blue-black hair, neatly styled, winged black eyebrows over eyes as dark as onyx, half-hidden by long, thick, curved lashes. A patrician nose and a beautifully sculpted mouth, which seemed to begin a little smile for her.
Suddenly deeply upset that this man had evidently had no trouble at all insinuating himself into her mother’s affections, she lit into him.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, playing gigolo to my mother. She’s very vulnerable right now—my father died only eight months ago. If you had any decent feelings at all, you’d let my mother down gently, and get out of her life. Can’t you invent a sick aunt or a dying grandfather in Greece? My mother said you’re twenty-nine. Well, you look older, probably due to the dissolute life you lead, going from one vulnerable, middle-aged lady to another— Look, if you need money, I’ll pay you any amount you wish as long as you get out of my mother’s life.” Lydia whipped her chequebook out of her handbag and looked at the man, her eyes flashing a challenge.
His polite smile had disappeared at the very beginning of Lydia’s onslaught, and his expression had gone from quietly indignant to absolutely outraged. Lydia thought, If he’s trying to up the price with his indignation, he can think again.
The man opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the arrival of Alicia. She hugged her daughter. “Lydia, I’m so glad you decided to come.” Glancing at the man, Alicia asked, “Honey, won’t you please introduce the gentleman with you?”
Lydia glanced at the man, her expression stricken. She said, haltingly, “Mama, this gentleman isn’t with me. I thought—” Please God, kill me now.
His manner frigidly polite, his deep voice glacial, the man said, “My name is Raphael Thalassinos. I am the elder brother of Jason. I came here to try to persuade him to leave London and go home to Greece. Our mother is recuperating from an illness.”
Alicia was embarrassed at the visit of Jason’s elder brother, but also indignant at his implication that Jason was living with her. She lifted her chin. “I’m Alicia Wiilloughby, and I want it clearly understood that Jason does not live here. Since you are his brother, you are no doubt aware he has an apartment of his own at the Barbican. If you wish to speak to Jason, surely that is the place to find him. Not here. We go to exhibitions, plays. We meet for lunch, dinner. We are friends! What made you think—?” Alicia’s voice stilled. It was clear that she was deeply offended.
“But Mama, you told me you were buying suits for Jason in Savile Row, and looking at a Jaguar—”
“Good gracious, Lydia, you didn’t think I was buying him these suits? Of course not. Jason paid for his suits, and for the Jaguar.”
Lydia had gone very pale. She dared not look at Jason’s brother. Her long lashes veiling her eyes, she said hesitantly to him, “I’m so very sorry. I’ve made a dreadful mistake—” She ventured a covert glance at him, and opened her mouth to apologize further, but she did not get farther than repeating, “I’m so very sorry—”
At the same moment, Raphael began to speak. She thought that, in different circumstances, his deep voice could be caressing as velvet, but right now it was frigid and aloof. His facial expression remote, he addressed himself pointedly to Alicia. “Mrs. Willoughby, I am sorry if I upset you with my mistaken assumption that my brother was living here with you. Forgive me.” He inclined his dark head in a stiff nod, turned on his heel and left the room.
AND FINALLY THE CONTEST!!!
To enter a drawing for a copy of Circle of Love autographed by Kate and by cover model Bill Freda, leave your comment with an email address. If your name is selected, Kate will contact you next week!