Today I have Catherine Kullman on the blog discussing the 3 books of her life.
Catherine was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-six years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. After taking early retirement Catherine was finally able to fulfil her life-long ambition to write fiction. Her debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, published in 2016, is a warm and engaging story of a young woman’s struggle to survive and find love in an era of violence and uncertainty. It takes us from the ballrooms of the Regency to the battlefield of Waterloo. It received a Chill with a Book Readers Award. In 2017, it was short-listed for Best Novel in the CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards. In Perception & Illusion published in March 2017, Lallie Grey, cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride. Perception & Illusion, too, received a Chill with a Book Readers Award.
1. What’s the first book you remember reading?
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. Originally published in 1872 and set in the US Midwest, it tells the story of the motherless Carr family, of whom twelve-year-old Katy is the eldest. I would have been around six when I read it and cried my eyes out when Katy injured her spine falling out of the swing. Although not written as an historical novel, it was the first book I read that was set in the past and probably started my lifelong love of historical fiction.
2. What book will always stay with you and why?
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers for a piece of advice on writing that stood to me many times over the years. Harriet Vane must write to Lord Peter Wimsey to tell him his nephew has been hurt in a car crash and is unable to write himself to acknowledge receipt of a cheque from his uncle. She has abandoned four drafts.
“What the devil is the matter with me?” she said aloud. “Why can’t I write a straightforward piece of English on a set subject?”
When she had once formulated the difficulty in this plain question, the detached intellect bent meekly to its academic task and produced the answer.”
The answer in this case has all to do with the complicated relationship between Harriet and Peter. She then summarises “what she had to say, stripped of its verbiage” and this is the lesson I took from it. When faced with starting a difficult or complicated draft, the question I asked myself was, What do I want to say? Once I had that, I could then dress it up appropriately. The question is no less important now that I am writing fiction. What do I want to say? What is to happen in this chapter? Once I am clear about the direction, I can let my imagination take flight.
3. One book you are looking forward to reading?
The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I loved Donati’s Wilderness series and this takes up the story two generations later. It is set in late nineteenth-century New York and, according to BOOOKLIST is “Compelling…Part romance, part mystery and part serial-killer thriller”.
Perception and Illusion
Cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, Lallie Grey accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride.
Perception & Illusion charts Lallie’s and Hugo’s voyage through a sea of confusion and misunderstanding. Can they successfully negotiate the Rocks of Jealousy and the Shoals of Perplexity to arrive at the Bay of Delight or will they drift inexorably towards Cat & Dog Harbour or the Dead Lake of Indifference?
Catherine Kullmann skillful evocation of the Regency period rings true, as do her protagonists’ predicaments. It is a joy to step into this other world with her.