Congratulations on the publication of your novel, GILT. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Janet! It’s such a delight to meet other writers of historical fiction.
GILT is a story of friendship and betrayal. Of cliques and wanting to belong. Of going along with the Queen Bee’s wishes because it is sometimes easier (and less confrontational) then having your own.
It is also the story of Catherine Howard, who married Henry VIII in 1540 at the age of sixteen, and died less than two years later, having been convicted of treason and adultery.
Ultimately, I was inspired to write a story that could resonate with a modern audience but in a setting that reflects my love of history. I wanted the chance to describe the lustrous palaces and gorgeous costumes of the Tudor era, while also exposing the darkness within it. I saw a similarity to high school in the halls of Hampton Court, and sought to bring it to life.
So many fabulous historical novels coming out this year - and here's another to add to my list! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
Compared to others in the business, I haven't been writing for young people for very long–just under five years. But I've been writing my entire life. I studied geography, anthropology and journalism in college because I wanted to be a travel writer. My first book – about my travels through Africa – was 800 pages of chapters and paragraphs beginning with “and then I…”
I wrote my second book eleven years later. A young middle grade time travel adventure. I loved that book, but something very similar hit the New York Times bestseller list while I was revising. So I switched to full historical YA. And I love it here.
Can you describe your path to the publication of GILT?
I started GILT immediately after the middle grade debacle–it was the slutty next novel, ready to be written. I knew I might be onto something when an agent at a workshop asked me to query her when it was finished. So I did. I was lucky to receive offers from some amazing agents, but knew–probably immediately–that Catherine Drayton was the right fit. She gave GILT a great title (it was cringingly titled CAT’S SHADOW before) and a makeover by offering amazing revision suggestions. And then she placed it with Kendra Levin, an editor who “got” me and my work from day one and never ceases to amaze me with her insight and talent. GILT's publication story is much more of a fairytale than what is between the covers.
"Cat's Shadow" isn't bad...but "GILT" is fabulous. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
1. Write the book you want to write, not the book you think others will want to read. You will be happier, and so will your readers.
2. Finish the book. It seems like common sense, but it's a hard thing to do.
3. Revise. Revise. Revise.
4. Read. It'll keep you grounded and make your mind soar. Read outside your genre. Read craft books. Read everything. It's worth it.
Can you tell us something about your personal life–inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I’m forever finding new and exciting things to research and write about. When I travel to England, I always discover a juicy bit of history I’m dying to put into a novel. This year, I’m branching out with my research – into another century and a completely different way of life. I'm finally reaching the point when I feel like I might be able to begin my dream novel, but I can't be sure until I do. I'll keep you posted.
Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I'm revising Book 2 of the series. It is set much earlier than GILT and includes a sexier Henry VIII. I'm also researching and plotting Book 3. And dreaming about the dream novel.
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about GILT?
Yes! You can find me at www.katherinelongshore.com. There you can read more about my books, about me and news and GILT-related events. You can also go to my blog – www.katherinelongshore.blogspot.com -- where I babble on about inspiration, the GILT playlist, history and anything else that comes to mind.