Interview with Kate Ryder
We are thrilled to welcome the new year in with author Kate Ryder, who we invited to Lost in Books to find out more about her latest release Beneath Cornish Skies, and chat about all things Cornwall. While the last year has been difficult for many of us, we hope you enjoy dipping into the world of Kate Ryder's books, getting a little closer to the inspiration for what inspires her stories, and even indulge in some of her writing tips.
Tell us about your latest book, Beneath Cornish Skies, and what readers can expect?
Thank you for the brilliant opportunity to take part in Lost in Books Q&A.
Beneath Cornish Skies is a contemporary story about taking chances and growing into one’s true self. It’s not a time slip, as such, but there are ghostly elements to the tale.
Cassandra Shaw is a young woman who, following a tragic accident, is suddenly transported from a grey existence into the lap of luxury. But as the years pass, she has the dawning realisation her life is not what it seems and, though riddled with insecurities and self-doubt, she takes the chance on a new beginning.
Serendipity plays its part and she accepts a role at Foxcombe Manor on the dramatic and rugged North Cornish coast, learning only too late that the house is haunted. However, her employers’ family accept the spirits as part of the household and Cassandra vows to do likewise.
But what is it that has drawn Cassandra to this isolated part of Cornwall? Why has she been guided to this particular house? Has she been called there for a reason? And who is the mysterious man living deep in the woods?
Several of your books feature time slips (like Secrets of the Mist) or ghostly elements tied with romance. What draws you to this style of writing?
Secrets of the Mist is my third publication with Aria. In fact, it’s my debut novel (originally self-published as The Forgotten Promise) but with the addition of a few time slip scenes and an epilogue.
The inspiration for the story came from an old cottage my husband and I were renovating. As we peeled away the layers secrets were slowly revealed, amongst them a time capsule hidden by a previous owner. The contents were fascinating, although not that ancient (maybe 30 years) but, nevertheless, it made me consider former owners and the dramas our cottage may have witnessed during the previous two centuries. This, in turn, led to the creation of a short story, which eventually became the novel of today.
I am thrilled that Secrets of the Mist captured readers’ hearts, and it achieved best seller flags in Amazon Kindle UK, Canada and Australia. It was also part of last year’s “Children in Read” auction in November.
I believe there is much in this world we don’t fully understand. The past is never far away; merely hidden in a crease of time. That’s comforting in a sense … loved ones now gone are only a whisker away, simply living on a different plane. I’ve experienced too many unusual, coincidental happenings in my life to believe that our existence is purely one-dimensional. The Universe is constantly at work.
Also, I’ve worked in the property industry and have come across houses and parcels of land that retain a certain atmosphere or chill, which is hard to logically explain. When the property’s history is revealed, more often than not there are reasons why a memory lingers.
As far as romance is concerned, how can we explain away that intuitive knowing when we meet the one? It’s far beyond our understanding. You could almost say it’s otherworldly; a theme I like to explore!
Do you have a favourite book that you have written so far, and, if so, why?
Secrets of the Mist was my first foray into novel writing and I will always have a soft spot for it, but my favourite is Summer in a Cornish Cove.
I am fascinated by the psychological elements of a novel and my stories tend to be emotionally driven. Summer in a Cornish Cove is no exception. Set mainly on the wild and beautiful Lizard Peninsula, it is a contemporary romantic suspense with a dark seam running through. Ultimately, it is a story about the power of love.
To the outside world, Oliver Foxley leads a charmed life. Still on his first marriage to the attractive and independent Deanna, he enjoys success as a globally-renowned, award-winning actor. However, behind the scenes, Oliver’s life is one huge jigsaw puzzle with the pieces never quite falling into place. Suffering depression, he visits a spiritual retreat where he meets an obsessed fan, who is far more dangerous than he realises.
Cara Penhaligon is a talented yet undiscovered artist living simply and quietly in a ramshackle cliff-top bungalow on the Lizard Peninsula. Free-spirited by nature, she is slowly coming to terms with the untimely death of her husband, which has left her raising their two young children on her own.
When Oliver rejects a role in the next sure-fire box office hit in favour of a play touring Cornwall for the summer, he puts into action a series of events that could not have been foretold. When destiny brings Oliver and Cara together he finds himself questioning the very fabric of his life. But, as the Cornish summer draws to an end, tough choices have to be made and no-one emerges quite as they were at the start.
Summer in a Cornish Cove is a story about trusting your intuition and having the courage to grasp second chances. As with Secrets of the Mist, readers took the book to heart and after receiving many requests not to leave the story where I had, a standalone sequel was published. Cottage on a Cornish Cliff picks up the story eighteen months on. This, too, grabbed readers’ interest and rose to #2 in Amazon UK Kindle Literary Sagas.
What do you love most about writing books set in Cornwall, and why? Is there any advice you would give to other writers starting out on their own journeys?
Cornwall speaks to me on many different levels. It is a county of opposites: from its stunning coastline, to the harsh unforgiving beauty of its moorland areas; from the gentle south coast with its many hidden creeks bordered by ancient forests reaching down to the water’s edge, to the wild and rugged cliffs of the north coast and seas that can change mood in an instant. It also has an interesting history and myths and legends abound. With such inspiration all around, it was only a matter of time before I started to weave tales incorporating many of these elements.
My advice to writers starting out is to have patience and play the long game. Get involved with a local writers’ group. If you write romance, join the Romantic Novelists’ Association, which provides great support. Its New Writers’ Scheme offers a critique of your unpublished manuscript. Many successful writers and RNA members of today went through the NWS.
Also, to read as much as possible and write every day. However much you think the words are rubbish, get them down… you can always tweak, delete, recycle later!
Kate Ryder has always had a passion for reading, writing, animals and the West Country. On leaving school she studied drama, but soon discovered her preference for writing plays rather than performing. Since then she's worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has been lucky enough to travel widely. She has written several books set in Cornwall, including Summer in a Cornish Cove, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff and Beneath Cornish Skies. Her international best-selling timeslip romance, Secrets of the Mist, is the only novel set out of the county in Dorset.
Beneath Cornish Skies is available digitally on Amazon as an eBook on 7th January, while paperback copies will be released later on 1st April 2021. Happy reading!
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