Kate Hofman, was born in the Netherlands, moved to London at 18 and is presently living in Whitby, Canada. She earned her Bachelor’s of fine art, majoring in art history and minoring in interior design, from the University of Amsterdam.
Kate has successfully published 16 books thus far: 10 for The Dark Castle Lords, 5 for Romance at Heart, and 1 for AweStruck Ebooks; with ‘A Marriage of Convenience’ listed as the #1 DCL bestseller at Fictionwise, ‘Gabriel’s Quest for Love listed as the #3 DCL bestseller at Fictionwise, a 2007 CAPA nominee for ‘Navajo Dreams’, ‘A Greek Love Story’ won eCataromance Sensual 2007 Reviewers’ Choice award, ‘A Fire Burns Deep’ was listed as All Romance eBooks’ recommended book of the week and earned 5 cups at Coffee Time Romance for ‘The Spanish Conquest’.
LILLITH: What drove you to begin writing?
KATE: Nina Bruhns said I was a born storyteller and needed to write. In April 2002, I did just that, spending the next five years learning to write. I wrote 25 books without ever submitting anything for publication.
Jennifer Mueller urged me to send something to AweStruck. They accepted THE SPANISH CONQUEST (which is not a history book!) within a few weeks.
I was very surprised, sending three books to Romance at Heart to give them a choice. THEY ACCEPTED ALL THREE!
Though I didn’t win, NAVAJO DREAMS was nominated for the Reviewers’ CAPA award at The Romance Studio.
I had to email CATAromance when I found out A GREEK LOVE STORY won the Reviewers’ award. I couldn’t believe it! They laughed at me, telling me it was true.
In February 2007, I submitted CASTLE IN SPAIN to DCL and they accepted it within an hour; making me feel very much at home with them. They’ve published 10 more books for me since then and will continue publishing one a month, until they’re caught up with all those books I wrote in seclusion.
LILLITH: Wow! You have really proven yourself to be a great storyteller and continuing with that passion.
LILLITH: What was the inspiration for your first book?
KATE: I have some memories from my years as a young woman in London. It turned into a 242-page book titled WILL AND KIKI. JL Foster serialized it in his web-magazine Within His Castle.
LILLITH: I’ve always wanted to visit London. I will have to find that book now so I can live there through your words.
LILLITH: Who or what has influenced your writing?
KATE: I write as I must and try not to be influenced by anyone. Momentary popularity does not interest me, so I write when I am convinced this is the very best I can do. That is when I will send the book to the publisher.
When I began to write, I decided to write the kind of books I enjoy reading, and not the present kick-ass mouthy bitches [can I say that?] that fight the hero for most of the book. Most people read to escape. Why give them a variation on their own lives? As a younger friend of mine puts it: My husband and I fight quite enough. I don’t want to read about that.
LILLITH: You have to admit though; in some of the books that do have those characters the make up sex can be really great!!!
KATE: That works for men, but not for women. When a man is excited and geared up by the fight, he is ready to have sex. A woman needs to be made ready for making love, and when she is all upset by a row, she is NOT in the mood for lovemaking, and even less for sex. When I read such a scene, I think: Lady, you got your sex information from a book, not from real life!
LILLITH: Has your life or environment influenced your writing in anyway?
KATE: I believe that is inescapable. My life made me the person I am and that person is the one writing the books.
For the record, I am a widow. I loved my husband very much, and for me anyone else would be second-rate. I am happy with my platonic friendships.
LILLITH: I am sorry for your loss. I can understand to a point. When my mother passed, my father was torn.
Has his loss affected the way you write in anyway, like the way some of your characters feelings are described?
KATE: When I describe someone whose husband has just died, yes, some of my own feelings would be filtered through into what I write for her. For that matter, the pain of any tragedy is easier to write when one has experienced it.
LILLITH: Do you have a specific writing style?
KATE: Only someone else could tell you that. As I said before, I write as I must. I do not try to write like this or that, because someone [probably mistakenly] believes that sells.
LILLITH: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
KATE: I am comfortable with contemporary sensual romance with mostly Mediterranean alpha males, although I have written a couple of Native Americans.
I strongly dislike books in which the hero and heroine have an asinine misunderstanding that lasts for 120 pages. I find that an insult to the reader’s intelligence. I prefer to let the difficulties appear later, and let the couple deal with them, which contributes to their growth toward each other.
LILLITH: How did you come up with the title for your novels?
KATE: Oh! You’ll wish you hadn’t asked that!
I prefer to call my books, pre-publication, by the names of the hero and heroine. If I say Raphael and Lydia, I know instantly which book I mean, and the entire story is ready to be played in my mind.
But I realize that I cannot title my books like that for the public. My grateful thanks to Stuart Bazga, who does the hard work, in Australia, of actually publishing our books. I appeal to him time and again to please help me with the title!
When Stuart discovered I had written 5 GT (Greek tycoon) books, he suggested they be published under the umbrella title of The Aphrodite Affairs, and that the word ‘Love’ be in every individual title. In no time at all he conjured up:
Circle of Love
Love’s Lost Past
Odyssey of Love
WOW! I am very, very grateful to Stuart.
When my only ‘historical’ (d. 1949) romance was about to be published, all I could come up with was:
The Greek Prince’s Love Affair.
Izzy, the cover artist, said, “Please have a heart, where am I going to find room to write all that?” Stuart came up with:
My Love, Forever.
I can never thank him enough!
The only titles I’ve ever coined (one with the aid of several fellow-writers) are Julian’s Jungle Book (which I wanted to call Reluctant Lover, but Pam Seres, co-publisher with Stuart, and several other DCL writers complained bitterly that it was one of my lousy titles.) In my head I called it JJB and when Julian Fantechi graciously agreed that I could use his own first name for my hero, Julian’s Jungle Book was born.
The only other titles I’ve come up with myself are NOT WITHOUT LOVE (but I had a little help from Bill Freda, who embodies my hero so fabulously on the cover) and HANDSOME DEVIL. When you see the cover photo, you’ll understand!
LILLITH: I have seen the covers and I must say, “YUM!!!” I do understand.
LILLITH: Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
KATE: No, I strongly believe that if you have a message, you should use Western Union or place a full-page ad in a newspaper. When I describe events, I cannot help but give my own slant to this, and perhaps people who think differently might learn something from someone else’s point of view. But this is not done consciously to instruct or teach.
I hope that my readers will enjoy my books, and feel a little better about life and themselves. And if, that evening, they have an argument with their husbands, perhaps my way of dealing with a similar situation will come to mind, and they will handle this in a civilized manner. I never raised my voice to my husband, nor did he to me. I like that. Screaming is for very unusual situations.
LILLITH: I like to think screaming should be left to those more…sensual moments.
LILLITH: Do any of your books have any realism to them?
KATE: Do you mean in the situations?
KATE: I strongly believe in ‘write what you know’ and I am very familiar with the situations I describe. So the way my characters behave would be realistic circumstances. I just make them a little richer than we were, which means I get to describe a private Learjet, and not the 2 hours of standing in line for a thorough search by security officers at airports. They have duplexes in New York, and don’t have to frown at the screaming rows of their neighbors.
LILLITH: Are the characters experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
KATE: Some experiences tend to present themselves when I need to describe something like that, whether by myself or by someone else. These are never verbatim representations; like with acting, everything I write would go through a filter.
You’d perhaps think that an actor, who has suffered a crushing loss, would be in an ideal position to show that on stage. Not really. He would have to filter his own feelings through his technique: I am supposed to be a man who has just lost his father. This is how I show that grief. And then he shows that grief, refined through his technique. If he emoted up and down the stage, it would be considered overacting and more than a little embarrassing. So it is also with writing.
If I call on a past experience for one of the characters, I take good care to filter it, refine it, and cool it, if you will, so that the reader perceives it as realistic. If I wrote word for word what happened, it would be a bit of an embarrassing jumble, perhaps.
LILLITH: What books have mostly influenced your life?
KATE: I don’t allow books to influence me. There are, however, writers whose works I do admire, and whose works I prefer to read in whatever spare time I have.
I try not to read romance, these days, for fear of contamination, as a fellow writer once put it. And this is a very real danger. I have a retentive memory. Suppose I am looking for a snappy comeback for a character, and a similar dialogue from someone else’s book came to mind, almost unconsciously. I would hate for that to happen!
Apart from serious writers, I enjoy P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh series. She writes so exceptionally well, it is a joy to realize just how brilliantly she puts things together, without seeming to.
LILLITH: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
KATE: No one really. I work hard at just being myself.
LILLITH: What book are you reading now?
KATE: H.W. Janson’s ‘The History of Art’ – I’ve a Bachelor of Fine Art degree (art history – major, int. design – minor) and from time to time I return to my roots, as it were. It is also the reason several of my novels have an art gallery in the background — or foreground. Someone once remarked that the people in that gallery were so ‘real’ — that is because I know what I’m writing about!
LILLITH: That’s a good point for write what you know.
LILLITH: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
KATE: Miriam Newman’s ‘Spirit Awakened’ is an exceptional book. In a quick read-through, I realized I’d have to find time to read it more slowly, savoring every little gem she hides here and there for the discerning reader to find.
Bill Haworth’s ‘Ockham’s Razor’ is a tour de force, so unusual, I was blown away.
Veronica Towers gave me her NAKED VISION and ONLY IN HER DREAMS. Simply wonderful books.
And Jennifer Mueller is a wonderful writer. I love all her books!
Whenever I read a terrific book, like those of the writers I just mentioned, I couldn’t write for a few days, overcome by what I’ve just read. I’ve often nitpicked for Jennifer Mueller, and she can flatten me for days, just remembering her exceptional writing makes me feel reluctant to write anything at all…
LILLITH: Do you have any current projects?
KATE: Yes. I’m writing something, so far untitled, with a friend. I am trying to finish ‘Julian’s Jungle Book’ but it will have to wait a little while until I finish a story for Veronica — our Anthology Queen’s Halloween book.
I have never ventured into the realm of spirits, so I’ve had to invent them as I went along. I’m about 9,000 words into it, but I’ll have to go over the 10,000 words I promised, I can see that already.
I’m not really a short story writer, I need a little time to show the character from all sides, which has perforce to be truncated somewhat in a short story. But I’m working away at it.
And I’ve made a tentative start with Golden Adonis – I wanted to call it Blond Adonis, but again my friends prevailed. This is a sequel to NOT WITHOUT LOVE – I got interested in my hero’s best friend as I was writing, and thought he deserved a book of his own. For an exception, he is blond; most of my heroes are dark. Well, with Julian Fantechi and Bill Freda on my covers – are you surprised?
LILLITH: Again, all I can say is “yum!!!”
LILLITH: Has writing become a main career or just something to do?
KATE: When I decided to obey Nina Bruhn’s insistent demand that I write, it became a full-time occupation from day one.
I decided to start writing on April 22, 2002. At 5 pm, I sat down before a blank page of Word, thinking I was insane to do what Nina wanted. And then I began to smile at a sudden memory of my half-Cree lover, when I was 24… and I typed, Will and Kiki (that was his nickname for me). By 1 o’clock that morning, I had 13 close-typed pages – I had yet to discover you could put 1.5 or 2 spaces between lines. And I realized this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Not a thought to publishing, just writing for the sheer joy of it.
Writing has never been about money for me, though. It isn’t now nor will it ever be. That just isn’t my nature.
LILLITH: Oh, a Cree! Yum!!! Living on a reservation for a time and going to Powwow’s, I fell in love with Native American’s. The men are truly a gift from God…at least the ones that follow the Red Road and take care of themselves.
KATE: Yes, you can say ‘Yum’ again…!
LILLITH: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
KATE: No. I keep it with me until I am certain I can’t make it better. Only then do I send it to Pam, waiting for her to tell me to send it to Jean Watkins, my editor.
I do regret giving in to the Romance at Heart editor for A GREEK LOVE STORY. I had written that the hero lived in East Hampton. The editor protested that it was called The Hamptons. I said, “My sister-in-law lived in East Hampton, my husband and I visited her there.”
No. It had to be The Hamptons, but I could say it was in the east. Furious, I ‘corrected’ the text to read “east of the Hamptons”. Maura Frankman, reviewer for The Romance Studio, remarked that it should have been East Hampton, not east of the Hamptons… She was right, of course, east of the Hamptons there is nothing until you come to Montauk!
I decided never again to cave in to an editor, if I was convinced I was right. Well, with Jean there could not have been such an altercation. She is the best editor I’ve ever had, and has saved me from a number of anomalies, date mix-ups, you name it, and she has saved me from it!
LILLITH: It sounds like you have a great team.
LILLITH: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
KATE: From reading voraciously, and at one point writing to Nina Bruhn’s about her book WARRIOR’S BRIDE.
The ‘warrior’ is a lawyer fighting in the courts, not the accepted sense of ‘warrior’. When we had corresponded for a while, she said I should write. I thought she was being polite and glossed over it, but she returned to this time and again, and finally I said, “All right then, but I’ll send you what I typed on the first day – that’s a threat! And then you have to tell me whether it’s any good…”
All Nina said, later, was, “Keep going.”
LILLITH: What do you see as the influences on your writing?
KATE: I do my best not to be influenced, to write only what I hear in my head. And know when to stop when the voice in my head doesn’t tell me anything any longer.
LILLITH: The voices, huh?
LILLITH: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
KATE: I’ll give you a little of Julian’s Jungle Book.
Bear in mind that the cover photograph is a photo of Julian Fantechi, nude but for a palm leaf held strategically in place. The heroine, Ashley, is on her way to Frangipani Island, a luxury resort. She decides to go for a walk in a small tropical forest.
She decided to investigate the cool-looking tropical forest, which began at the back of her bungalow. She noticed a little stream, which flowed the length of the hotel property, turning into the forest just behind her bungalow. Pleased with the soft murmuring sound of the water, she decided to follow the stream and see where it led. Deeper into the forest, evidently. She walked slowly, admiring the unfamiliar plants and trees, the small birds darting about, their plumage bright as jewels.
Ahead of her, she heard some splashing and saw a man lift himself out of the water. It was evidently deep enough to swim. Ashley couldn’t help staring. Not only was he strikingly good looking, he was also quite nude. She thought his skin had to be naturally golden, to take such a tan. It looked like light brown satin with water droplets clinging to it. To-die-for handsome, his shoulders were wide, and his chest had the most beautifully shaped pectorals. A thin line of black body hair arrowed down to his navel, and from there to… oh, dear Lord… Ashley licked her suddenly dry lips. I’m innocent, but not ignorant… Even dormant, this man was exceptionally well endowed.
At that moment, he saw her. With a lightning-fast reflex, he bent some huge palm-like leaf in front of him. Ashley wasn’t aware that she had hastily closed her eyes and stood there, frozen to the spot.
She heard the man’s voice, deep but glacial: “You’re trespassing. This land is posted. How dare you come here, invading my privacy!” Clearly, the man was incensed at her. Ashley took a deep breath, finally daring to open her eyes again. Ah, that palm frond was still there, hiding his…. Thank goodness…
“It isn’t posted where I started,” she said bravely. “I came out of my bungalow and decided to follow the pretty stream. I didn’t know…”
Apparently, her explanation didn’t impress the man. Frowning, he whistled between his teeth. A huge Rottweiler came racing along an unseen path, heading straight for Ashley. Any other woman would have backed off in terror, but Ashley quickly knelt by the dog. “Oh, you gorgeous, beautiful boy! You look just like R-Rufus, when Daddy was still alive and…” She bent her blonde tresses to the dog’s gleaming black head with brown markings, and began to cry quietly, caressing his neck. The dog instantly began to lick Ashley’s face, and she folded both arms around his neck. The man stood there, transfixed, still holding onto the palm frond. Finally he spoke.
“I bought a Rottweiler because I thought such a huge dog would keep trespassers away. How on earth did you….” Frowning, he called “Remington! Heel!” to the dog, who paid no attention, continuing to lick Ashley’s face.
Ashley whispered, “You’d better go to him, Remington, he looks very angry.” In spite of her soft whisper, the man heard her. For a moment, amusement curled his beautifully shaped mouth. While the dog slowly sauntered back to his master, Ashley got to her feet. Wiping her tears away, her small chin in the air, she said, “There was no need to set your dog on me. You don’t know anything about Rottweilers, obviously. Yes, they can be made mean, but you evidently haven’t had time yet to ruin this lovely dog. And I was leaving anyway. I’m sorry I disturbed you and invaded your privacy. I realize you w-won’t believe me, but I assure you it was quite unintentional. And it won’t happen again.” She gave the man a withering glance, turned and walked back, unhurriedly, head held high, out of his tropical forest.
He stared after her, slowly letting go of the palm-frond. Why did I react so violently to her? Because I’m still furious with Krista, who arrogantly assumed I’d want her back. Has she conveniently forgotten I divorced her because she’d been betraying me with Nate, and heaven knows who else—the slut… As if. Why did I release my anger on that young woman, lovely and petite, but with surprisingly long legs. She was polite, only losing her temper when I set Rim on her. I must’ve been mad to do that. She said she lives in the bungalow next to me. She’s right, there are no signs posted there. How could she know that I… Oh, damn. I’ll have to apologize to her. Tonight, when I go over for dinner. Yes.
LILLITH: Oh my, I have to fan myself! Imagining Julian naked and wet. Okay, time for a cold shower!!! I want to read this so badly now!!!
LILLITH: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
KATE: I write quickly, but re-read very, very slowly. I keep making little changes here and there, sometimes a bigger one, until I send it to Pam. Then, I stop fiddling.
Mary Everett has been my critique partner for the last half dozen books. She reads with intelligence and invariably encourages me to continue.
Sometimes my characters challenge me. I once ditched a book I was halfway through, the hero was fine, but I couldn’t ‘get the heroine. I’d rather throw out over a hundred pages than soldier on with a book I knew hadn’t quite got the heroine right. Some people save everything they write, in case they can use it ‘later’.
LILLITH: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
KATE: Gore Vidal. He is an exceptional writer, his research is impeccable, and his style is so perfectly suited to his subjects. A Master.
LILLITH: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
KATE: No. I know Florida very well. We lived there for 7 years, and a lot of my books are set there.
I took my grandson for a trip to Arizona, to visit some Navajo friends of mine, and also to visit again Sedona, my most favorite place on earth. Navajo Dreams is set in Arizona, and in A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE, the hero takes a research trip to AZ. And offers a marriage of convenience to his researcher…
I’ve lived in Amsterdam, London, Paris, briefly in New York, many years in Montreal, Toronto, and Victoria (BC). With my husband, I traveled (by car) all over the US. So if I want a slightly different locale, I need only call on my memory.
LILLITH: Sounds like me. Moving with the military and then from Washington to Mississippi. I enjoy traveling by car. It’s so amazing and you can miss so much when you fly.
LILLITH: Who designed the covers?
KATE: Ines Dinn (Izzy) was our cover artist until last April.
We were lucky in finding Annie Marshall, a wonderful writer in her own right, willing to do our covers. Can I say something?
KATE: I would like to say something here about the models that grace our covers. I can’t speak for others, nor would I want to, but for myself, I think the success of my books is intricately connected with the photos on my covers.
Julian Fantechi, bare-chested, lighting some candles, was the cover for A Marriage of Convenience. You wouldn’t believe how many copies he sold for me!
Bill Freda, on horseback, was the embodiment of my Greek Prince, in My Love, Forever. Even now, many months after it was published, he sells it for me. I don’t delude myself that people have read the blurb or the reviews. No. They take one look at the cover, and stretch out their hands. “I gotta have that one!”
Once Bill and Julian got to know me a little (via emails, I mean, we’ve never met) they were a great help, asking me for a brief résumé of the story, so that they could pick out suitable photos for me to choose from.
On the rare occasions that I have a blond hero, I want CJ Hollenbach.
LILLITH: Well said.
LILLITH: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
KATE: Finishing it is always difficult, because by time I’m 3⁄4 through; new characters start vying for my attention.
Sometimes I have to write a quick synopsis, just to get them to shut up while I finish my present book.
That doesn’t always work. I recall the hero of A FIRE BURNS DEEP insisting I try a few chapters to see if it would work. I can’t tell you how hard it was getting back to A Marriage of Convenience, which preceded it. By the way, I don’t much care for synopses, because by page 2 or 3, I invariably deviate from the planned story. I can see another way the story could go, a way that interests me more.
LILLITH: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
KATE: I’m now halfway through my 31st book. Of course I’ve been learning as I went along, and I hope I will continue to learn from any future books I may write.
The moment I stop learning, I might as well stop writing, because the life will have gone out of it.
It is the interest in learning, finding out, making things better that keep the liveliness in a book. When a writer is so blasé that he/she has nothing to learn, the books will become bland and boring.
LILLITH: Do you have any advice for other writers?
KATE: Only for those looking to be published or to start a career in writing. Write, write every day. Even when you don’t feel like it, and you know that this isn’t much good and you’ll probably delete it tomorrow. But get that habit of writing every day.
When you’ve finished your first book, lay it aside for a week. Then read it again, as critically as you can. If it still strikes you as pretty good, look around the publishers to find one congenial to the sort of book you’ve written. I mean, if you’re a romance writer, don’t go to a sci-fi publisher. If you write cool mysteries, don’t go to an erotic romance publisher.
Best of luck!
LILLITH: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
KATE: Yes, there is something I feel strongly about. The models on our covers should get credit for their photographs, and be thanked for what they do for our books.
DCL has made an admirable start with that, and we now also include the names of the male models on our sites, giving credit where credit is due.
I am always grateful for interest shown in my books, but I never forget that the first thing the reader sees is Bill Freda or Julian Fantechi or CJ Hollenbach – and they are what my readers first react to.
Thank you, Lillith. KATE
And thank you Kate. I hope everyone has found this interview to be as exciting, informative and as HOT as I have. Please feel free to make any comments to this interview, and if there are any questions for me, I will reply to them as quickly as I can. And if there are any questions for Kate, I’m sure she will get to them when she can as she is busy with her next book.