Author Interview: Catherine Kullman



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Catherine. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

CK-Thank you, Jeanie. I live in Dublin, about 2 miles from the city centre and ten minutes’ walk from our local village and the sea. Over the past year, fun has been confined to Zoom, YouTube etc. I love music, especially opera, and both Irish National Opera and the Wexford Opera Festival have been most imaginative in providing online, live events. Pre and, I hope, post Covid, I loved to meet friends and family, travel, go to live concerts and operas, etc. I read a lot and also enjoy writing. At present, my idea of a perfect day would be to wake up in a boutique hotel in an old town, then wander through the streets, browsing in shops, including antique shops and second-hand bookshops, taking in a museum and having a lovely lunch. Back to my hotel for a rest and then an opera in the evening.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

CK- I find the extended Regency period from, say, 1795—the year of the later Prince Regent’s marriage—to 1830, the year of his death as George IV—absolutely fascinating. The events of this period include the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the twelve years of war that ended in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, all of which continue to shape our modern world.

At the same time, the ruling aristocracies were being challenged by those who saw the need for social and political reform, while the industrial revolution which led to the transfer of wealth to the manufacturing and merchant classes was underway. Powerful voices demanded the abolition of the slave trade. Women, who had few or no rights in a patriarchal society, had begun to raise their voices, demanding equality and emancipation. Still very much the age of sail, and of the horse, it was also the dawn of the age of steam. Within twenty years, railways would have begun to transform both the landscape and society.

I also love the music, literature, art and architecture of that time, the fashion—between hoops and crinolines—is still very wearable today, and indeed the Empire line is revived regularly.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

CK-I most admire people who have the courage to challenge the status quo; who make a difference through their lives and often through their deaths. There are so many. From the Regency, I nominate Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, the great, Quaker prison reformer, who did so much for woman prisoners. I would enjoy talking to her about all sorts of things but there is no one question I can think of at present.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

CK-As I mentioned above, I am fascinated by the Regency period and love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I have always wanted to write fiction, but did not have the time to do it until I took early retirement following a bout with breast cancer. Somehow, the Regency seemed the perfect fit for me. I love the research as well as the writing.

JMR- Your books are set in the Regency Period which is very popular with readers. How do you meet the readers expectations of a ‘Regency Romance’ while still expressing your own ideas and unique storylines?

CK-The ‘Regency Romance’ is very broad description and different readers have different expectations from it. I call my books Regency Novels. To me and my readers, it is important that the setting rings true and the characters’ actions are determined by the laws, morals and customs of their time, not ours.

JMR- Women’s lives were controlled by parents, husbands, societal norms, laws and religious conformity. How do you create strong female characters that react against this control without pushing them into unrealistic acts?

CK-This is the challenge—to evoke a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. Again, research is the key. If your readers understand the constraints, they will also appreciate why the characters reacted as they did. There is strength in endurance, in acceptance, in challenge and in knowing when to take a risk while being prepared to accept the consequences. A character’s moral dilemmas are no less real for being different to those of today. It is my job to enable the reader to engage with them.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your books? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

CK- Dublin is very much a Georgian city. I went to school in a Georgian house, walked through Georgian streets and later managed Georgian houses. You could say Georgian architecture is infused into my bones. I have also visited many Georgian houses both in Ireland, England and in France. Not long before Covid hit, I was at a recital of Schubert and Beethoven songs that was held in the upstairs drawing-room of a Georgian town house. My characters were there with me, listening.

JMR- Catherine, tell us about your new book, A Comfortable Alliance.

CK- A Comfortable Alliance is the final book in a Napoleonic Wars arc that starts in The Murmur of Masks, and runs through all six of my novels with an overall timeframe from 1803 (collapse of the Treaty of Amiens) until 1821/22 when Helena, heroine of A Comfortable Alliance, is still suffering from the loss of her fiancé at Waterloo.

Locking away all dreams of the heart, she has retreated to a safe family haven. On the shelf and happy to be there, Helena has perfected the art of deterring would-be suitors.

Will, Earl of Rastleigh, is the only son of an only son: marriage is his duty. One of the great prizes of the marriage market, he shies away from a cold, society union. While he doesn’t expect love, he seeks something more comfortable. But how to find the woman who will welcome him into her life and her bed, and be a good mother to their children?

When Will meets Helena, he is intrigued by her composure, her kindness and her intelligence. As their friendship develops, he realises he has found his ideal wife, if only he can overcome her well-known aversion to matrimony

Will succeeds in slipping past Helena’s guard. Tempted by the thought of children of her own, and encouraged by her mother to leave the shallows where she has lingered so long, she accepts his offer of a marriage based not on dangerous love but affectionate companionship and mutual respect.
But is this enough? As Will gets to know his wife better, and the secrets of her past unfold, he realises that they have settled for second-best. Can he change the basis of their marriage? Will Helena risk her heart and dare to love again?

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

CK-I have a notebook full of plot ideas. At present I am working on a sequel to A Suggestion of Scandal that will, I hope, be published next spring.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

CK-   Facebook:

          Twitter: @ckullmannauthor


JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

CK-Your covers are quite distinctive. Where do you find the images?

Rather than using photographs, I use old portraits, paintings and engravings. I source the cover images myself—many come from my private collection—and my designer uses my signature fonts etc. to create the final work. In the examples below, the image for A Suggestion of Scandal is a miniature from Adobe Stock; the group on The Potential for Love is part of a larger, antique print in my collection and the cover of A Comfortable Alliance is made up of two antique engravings in my collection.

JMR- Thank you, Catherine, for a wonderful chat and sharing your books with us. Readers, I've included a link to Amazon if you want to check out her novels. 


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