As a follow-up to last weekend’s blog on the virtual ceremony for the RNA Awards 2021, this week we’re delighted to be able to welcome Kate Hardy, the winner of the LIbertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award 2021 for A Will, A Wish and A Wedding.
Kate is an old mate of the Libertà hive. She was one of the very kind authors who welcomed the then unpublished newbie, Joanna Maitland, to her very first RNA meeting. That was well over 20 years ago and Kate says she doesn’t remember. But Joanna does and is still grateful.
Kate’s hangers-on, Archie (the big one) and Dexter, rejoice in the title of Edit-paw-ial Assistants.
More from them later.
Keep reading, as Kate tells us about how she became a published author and how she came to write the lovely butterfly-filled book that won our award.
Kate Hardy writes…
I’m thrilled to be here, as the winner of the 2021 Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award. It’s a glorious collision of numbers: for my 90th M&B, in my 20th year of being a M&B author and my 25th year of being a member of the RNA. And it’s also the third time I’ve won the award. As the photo below shows, I really wasn’t expecting it — and I’m so delighted!
I’ve always written. From a very early age, I either had my nose in a book or I was writing a story. Most of the early ones were about space, ponies or ghosts (my poor, poor teachers).
It took me a few years—and I wish I’d realised that a four-page rejection letter didn’t mean “go away and never darken our doorstep again”!
My first book, A Baby of Her Own, started life at my six-week-old daughter’s hospital bed on her first Christmas. It was accepted on her first birthday and published on her second.
How Kate Hardy wrote that award-winning book
Eighty-nine (89!) books later—all right, so I’m currently working on #96—here I am.
A Will, a Wish and a Wedding probably started half a century ago, when i was a very small child.
I was fascinated by the blue butterflies in the Castle Museum in Norwich. It’s a fascination that’s never left me. I still love visiting gardens in the summer for the flowers and the butterflies. I also love glass buildings.
So, when I was sketching out the initial plan for the book, I wanted my heroine to be a butterfly expert and my hero to be an architect.
I’d learned about Margaret Fountaine, the Victorian lepidopterist who collected the butterflies that so enthralled me as a child. (She’s shown left in a photograph from 1886. Note the tiny corseted waist.)
I also wanted a link to the past and a nod to the women who broke boundaries and finally made universities recognise them with degrees. Originally I wanted a ghost as well, but there was editorial compromise there 😉 Eventually we agreed on a bit of matchmaking from beyond the grave.
(And I sneaked Thomas Hardy in, too. Oh yes.)
Research, complete with research crew…
I like doing research first-hand, where possible. For this book, it involved a trip to an Iron Age hill fort in Norfolk to see the blue butterflies, and a trip to the Horniman butterfly house in London.
But my research crew (husband, children, and certain friends get annexed as well) have learned that if I suggest we might go somewhere, it’s going to mean lots of photographs, scribbled notes, and me asking weird questions. It also means they get as much cake as they like, so fortunately they’re always happy to accompany me!
The Edit-paw-ial Assistants come with us if it’s somewhere they’re allowed, and they particularly enjoy going for a walk by the sea when I need to sort out a plot problem.
The one book where I haven’t done first-hand research, though, is the one I’ve just delivered. Even if we hadn’t been in lockdown, NO WAY am I ever going down a ski slope!
What next? Well, I’m still trying to persuade my editor into a mash-up of Bridgerton and House…
A four-page rejection letter, eh? And you thought it meant “get lost”. To be fair, it’s a common reaction among newbie authors. Lots of us have done it (though normally with fewer than four pages).
But the output is phenomenal—90 published books in 20 years? Respec’, ma’am.
And congratulations again on your well-deserved win. It’s a lovely book and much recommended.
The Edit-paw-ial Assistants
Now, Kate sent me lots of pics of Archie and Dexter. They didn’t all fit into her blog. But I was pretty sure that our readers would want to see them anyway, so I’m pasting in a couple of extras below so that you can all go “Aaaaah”. Nothing like big brown eyes, is there? And Kate’s spaniels are extremely well qualified in the melting brown eyes department. (Also pretty keen on the editorial work, judging by these shots. I hope Kate pays them well…)
More about Kate Hardy
Kate lives in Norwich in the east of England with her husband, two university-student children (one of whom was that poorly baby), her springer spaniels, Archie and Dexter, and too many books to count.
She’s a bit of a nerd. (Her word, not ours.)
She loves music, the theatre, ballet, history and cooking. Plus anything Italian. She loves doing research, as she explained above. If it’s hand-on and means experimenting with cooking, it’s even better.
Reviewers say that her books are full of warmth, heart and charm—we endorse that view here at Libertà—and that readers will always learn something new and interesting from a Kate Hardy story. That was certainly the case with A Will, A Wish and A Wedding. Read it and see for yourself.
Kate’s latest book—JUST OUT—is Surprise Heir for the Princess
A secret royal escape
An unexpected consequence!
Princess Vittoria yearns to escape the pressures of her royal life. So, when she’s reunited with enigmatic photographer Liam MacCarthy at a party, she agrees to a secret beachside getaway. Vittoria knows she can never have a future with Liam, but under the stars, she gives in to their undeniable chemistry for one perfect night…
Until Vittoria returns home to discover she’ll have more than memories to remember Liam by!
How does she fit in all of that while producing nearly a hundred books? You may well ask. We reckon she just doesn’t sleep…