It’s an exciting day indeed! We are celebrating yesterday’s paperback release of Katherine Longshore’s GILT! We members of Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks have taken the opportunity to ask some burning questions. Before we get into the Q&A, here’s a bit about GILT:
In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free–
and love comes at the highest price of all.
When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.
Now let the Q&A begin!
Jenn McGowan: What were the biggest differences between writing book 1 and writing book 2? And what are you working on next?
Katy: Writing Book 1, I didn’t know what I was doing, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t really realize it. With Book 2, I knew I didn’t know what I was doing and it terrified me. But it was also so much fun to write in a completely different voice. Kitty, in GILT, is a bit complacent, an observer, introspective. Anne, in TARNISH, is brash and blunt and would never have tolerated any of Cat Howard’s manipulations.
I’m currently working on a third book set in Henry VIII’s court—one that bridges the gap between GILT and TARNISH. It features entirely new characters, but people from both of the other books play important roles.
J. Anderson Coats: Which of your characters do you most want to slap and/or take to task?
Katy: I’ve got two replies to that one. Cat Howard is the easy answer. She’s selfish, manipulative, egotistic and has no foresight. At some point, someone should have taken her to task, though I’m not sure she would have listened.
And I desperately wanted to slap some sense into Kitty Tylney before things fell apart. But it was like watching a train wreck, writing her descent into misguided loyalty. Ultimately, neither girl could change her own character. And nothing was going to deter them from their paths—chosen or not.
Cat Winters: Now that the hardcover edition of GILT has been available for a year and the paperback edition is making its debut, what would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned about the publishing process?
Katy: Roll with it and learn to let go. Pretty difficult for a borderline control freak and obsessive perfectionist. There is so much that we—as authors—don’t have any control over. What we can do is write the best books we have the capacity and skill for at the time. And keep writing. As hard as it is, and as much self-doubt as I feel, I know it’s the writing that has got me through the rough spots this past year.
Renee Collins: What do you do to get inspired, or get in the right “mood” to write in your chosen historical era?
Katy: I read a lot of non-fiction. I look not only for the events that I put into my books, but also for the details—tastes and smells and textures. But I temper that with modern music—songs that give me insight into my characters or reflect the mood of a scene. And when I sit down to write, I turn all of that off and hope the blend of the two come out on the page.
Laura Golden: GILT spotlights a major historical figure, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. How much of Catherine’s GILT persona is based on fact?
Katy: Many of Catherine Howard’s actions in GILT are based on fact. Her escapades in the Dowager Duchess’s house, her whirlwind “courtship” with the king, and her eventual fall. But her persona? All imaginary. Think of it this way, if someone were to write down everything you did today—just the facts—would they really know what kind of person you are? I write a lot about clothes—colors, textures, fabrics—but if you were to look into my closet, you’d see a lot of black, thrift store specials and a few hand-me-downs. I think historians make a giant leap when they assume Catherine Howard was ignorant because she couldn’t write (many Tudor women couldn’t) and made bad choices or that she was an airhead because she liked clothes and parties. I used the exact same facts (she couldn’t write, she had lots of clothes, the king had fun and avoided politics while he was married to her) and gave her a character I thought would fit into that framework.
Sharon Biggs Waller: What was the most interesting thing you discovered about the Tudor period?
Katy: That it wasn’t nearly as romantic as books and movies make it appear. It was dirty and dangerous and ugly and our delicate modern noses probably couldn’t handle the reek of it all. Also that romantic love was still a pretty foreign concept and not something most people expected to experience in a marriage. But I’ve been “living” in the Tudor era for quite a while and it’s difficult to remember anything exceptionally interesting or bizarre. I’ve been here so long it all seems—dare I say—normal.
Jessica Spotswood: I think my favorite thing about GILT is the fierce yet ultimately toxic friendship between Cat and Kitty. I suspect a lot of modern girls can relate to it. What was the most challenging or interesting thing about writing this complex friendship?
Katy: When I first spoke to my editor on the phone about GILT, one of her questions was, “So did you have a friendship like this growing up?” My answer—fortunately—is no. I had (and still have) kind, supportive friends who accepted me for who I am. My experiences with people who are manipulative, critical, passive-aggressive and who purposefully abused my faults and foibles all came later when I had the skills and experience to be able to deal with it (mostly). So it was a challenge to make Kitty so blind to Cat’s true nature. What fascinated me about writing Cat, however, was how easy it was to come up with petty cruelties and exploitations. It’s one of the most wonderful things about writing fiction—being able to explore character traits, actions and faults that you hope never affect you in real life!
Thank you for your fascinating responses, Katherine! And endless congratulations on the paperback release of GILT!
Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents, and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years, and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children, and a sun-worshiping dog.