Writer Wednesday: Katie Oliver

Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who "meet cute", Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains.

Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.  

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
There weren’t many kids in the neighborhood where I grew up, so I turned to books early on. I spent many hours climbing into the wardrobe with the Pevensie children; I tagged along with Nancy Drew and her friends George and Bess as they solved mysteries; and I followed Mary Lennox into the secret garden. And I decided that someday, I really, really wanted to write stories like that, myself.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
When I get stuck. It might be halfway through a chapter, or midway through the book, or at the very end – but invariably I’ll hit a wall. When it happens, I have no idea how to push through to the other side. So I go for a walk, and put my laptop aside for a while. And eventually I return and I write my way through it.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
I love writing the first and last chapters. I enjoy the challenge of drawing the reader in at the start, keeping them turning the pages… and I love the exhilaration of writing the final, and hopefully exciting, scenes of the book.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Dixie City Jam by James Lee Burke. Every one of his books overflows with unforgettable, multi-layered characters, twisted (and truly frightening) bad guys, evocative descriptions, and skillfully woven plots and subplots. You can feel the humidity of a hot Louisiana night and smell the muddy richness of the bayou in his novels. I literally cannot put his books down.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
Oh, probably Natalie Dashwood, because she’s prone to calamities, isn’t she? There’s something very sweet and vulnerable and kind about her that I greatly admire. It’s no wonder she landed that dishy Rhys Gordon. Lucky girl!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I’d love to hang out with Jane Austen’s Mr. Wickham… and get his side of the story. (Which we did, more or less, in P.D. James’s murder mystery, Death Comes to Pemberley.) Yes, he was a cad; but even a cad has at least one redeeming feature, surely?

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I’m currently writing three more books, but they’re not Darcy books this time around. Two are underway and the third is in the early planning stages. Each features an American heroine who meets and falls for a European man, which leads to conflict, romance, and eventually (of course!), love. I also hope to write another standalone Darcy book. I’ve had a lot of requests for more Natalie and Rhys and more Helen and Colm (from And the Bride Wore Prada), so we’ll see…

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I wish I’d started writing earlier, much earlier. But two things prevented it: little time to write (kids, job, house, commute) and a lack of confidence in myself. My advice to anyone starting out is simple. Write every chance you get. Turn off the TV, because if you’re serious about writing, you have to do one thing: you have to write. And you can’t do that if you’re posting on Facebook, or zoning out in front of House of Cards, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes. Make writing a priority.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I get up and have a coffee as I catch up on my Twitter feed and respond and comment on my Facebook posts; then I get dressed, walk the dog, throw the laundry in the washer, and go upstairs, where I sit at my laptop and write. I try to be at my desk by 8 AM, earlier if possible. I write until noon, break for lunch, then write until 2 PM (when the US soap opera General Hospital airs). Before I quit writing for the day, I save my work to PDF and send it to the Kindle app on my iPad so I can read it later. The next morning, I start by making any necessary corrections to the previous day’s work, then I plow on with the next chapter(s).

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
 I’m reading A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde, whose books I’ve always enjoyed. Waiting in my towering bedside pile is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. It was highly recommended by a saleswoman at Barnes and Noble, and she said that the husband’s secret, when it’s revealed, will make me gasp out loud. I can’t resist a recommendation like that, can I?

*

She’s a fiancĂ©e of good fortune…

Strutting down Park Avenue in her new Manolos, Holly James looks like a woman who has it all. But beneath the Prada sunglasses, Holly has a mounting list of decidedly unfabulous problems. Right at the top? The fact that since her fiancĂ© Jamie started spending all his time at his new restaurant (with his impossibly gorgeous sous-chef!), Holly has practically forgotten what he looks like… and started to feel a teensy bit paranoid.

…but has Holly found the right Mr Darcy?

So being kissed by film star Ciaran Duncan should have been a much-needed boost to Holly’s ego. But losing herself in the moment is impossible, since she’s still fuming after meeting English lawyer Hugh Darcy. He’s easily the most arrogant man in Manhattan and she’s engaged to be married… so why can’t Holly stop imagining kissing him? Suddenly, Holly finds herself torn between three eligible bachelors… and it’s proving more difficult than choosing between a Manolo Blanik and a Jimmy Choo – especially since men are non-refundable! What’s a New York fashionista to do?

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