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.
My Q&A With Catherine Kullmann
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.
I started literally with a hardback A4 notebook and a pen. I did not attend any writers’ groups or creative writing courses but had read Elizabeth George’s Write Away, which the Sunday Times described as ‘A perfect DIY guide for the determined new novelist’. My novels have a strong romantic arc and I was fortunate enough to get a place in the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association which entitles members to have a full typescript critiqued each year. The first novel I sent in was Perception & Illusion. The reviewer sent me back a nine-page critique, something she said she rarely did but she could see it was my first novel and, while I had a voice, I was all over the place otherwise. To be told I had a voice was all-important to me. I had started on The Murmur of Masks while waiting for the critique of Perception & Illusion and I set it aside to rewrite Perception & Illusion and then paid to have it professionally critiqued. Again, the feedback was invaluable. By this stage, I was so far advanced with The Murmur of Masks that I continued with it and eventually began submitting it to agents. A for Authors made me an offer of representation and I have been with them since. However, we were not successful in finding a traditional publisher and after several warm rejections, we decided to publish independently under Amazon’s White Glove Scheme for agented authors. I then returned to Perception & Illusion. The two books are loosely connected in that they have the same social setting and partly overlap timewise. You also meet some characters from one in the other but there are no spoilers and it doesn’t matter in which order you read them.
Describe yourself using three words?
Warm-hearted, determined, (I had written this before finding the Sunday Times quotation above) and demanding.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I like to explore what comes after the happy end. I always want to know what happened next. The first eight chapters of Perception & Illusion could read as a stand-alone novella, but it is what comes after Hugo’s proposal that makes it really interesting.
What time of day do you like to write?
I aspire to work mornings between, say 10.30 and 12.30 and afternoons between 3 p.m. and six p.m. but this is not pure writing time as marketing and my blog also eat into this time.
What is your favourite book and why?
This is a difficult one. Can I be greedy and have three? The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss, which I have loved since my childhood, first published in 1812 and considerably expanded after the first edition it remains an early nineteenth century work, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate saga/fantasy/adventure story and Jane Austen’s Persuasion for bitter-sweet romance.
How did you pick the title of your book? Titles come to me quite late in the process. I am more a pantser than a plotter and it can take some time before the essence of the book becomes apparent. Now, when I start a new book, I just number it e.g. Book Four.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
No. An occasional real person might have a walk-on part like Lord Byron and Colonel Colborne in The Murmur of Masks, but my stories and their characters are completely fictional.
What’s your favourite word?
I don’t have one. There are certain phrases or lines of poetry that resonate with me. At the moment, a couple of lines from Marvel’s To His Coy Mistress are running through my brain—a gloomy thought, perhaps, but so beautifully expressed:
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
If you were a colour what would it be?
The blue-green of a sparkling sea.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
A bit of both, but I love it when a story takes me in a direction I had not foreseen.
Who is your favourite Author?
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
The mother and father from The Swiss Family Robinson and Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion. I would love to talk to four characters from ‘my’ period and with these four, and my husband, of course, we could have a wonderful general discussion.
What book are you reading at the moment? A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Where in the world is your happy place?
Glenmalure Valley in County Wicklow. It’s a U-shaped glacial valley with a little stream purling through it. You can hike in, but we drive as far as the flat bridge that crosses the stream and leave the car there and continue to walk up the track. There are open grassy spaces, almost like little rooms, beside the stream and to picnic there on a summer’s day, enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the rustle of leaves and the water purling through the stones is heaven.
If you had one superpower what would it be?
To instantly transfer myself, my husband and our luggage to anywhere in the world and never to have to face an airport again.
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
I would like Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park) to have remained true to Fanny. I think they could then have been very happy together. He would have shown her more of the world and she would have given him the happiness of a real home.
Are you working on a new project?
Yes, I am completing the final draft of A Whisper of Scandal which I hope to publish in the autumn.
Thank you so much, Catherine, for stopping by my blog today. Come back soon!
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