All of those, I’m sure – but for me the most important part of reading fiction is because my curiosity is sparked, I get involved with the characters, I start out on a journey with them. I watch the hero and heroine of a story meet, get to know each other – then something comes between them – a problem develops – they argue . . .and what happens next? That’s what keeps me turning the pages. I want to know what happens next.
Of course, in a romance novel, we already know how the story is going to end. That’s the promise that Harlequin, and the author, makes to the reader – that no matter what happens to the hero and heroine along the way, they will end up with a happy ever after ending. But we want to know how they are going to get there – what happens next?
This is what got me fascinated by Wuthering Heights - When I was eleven, I was at a very small junior school that was in an old building, where the wiring wasn't very reliable. The was in West Yorkshire where the weather was often wild, and storms could break over the hills with great drama and force. One day there was a huge thunderstorm, great flashes of lightning, and the lights in the whole building fused. We were sitting in darkness, with a lot of the girls getting scared and screaming when the thunder roared and the lightning flashed. (Not me - I have always loved storms and still do.)
To distract us from getting worried and while waiting for the electricity to be restored, the teacher - told us to sit quietly and he would tell us a story. The story he told was about a man who returned home to his farm, high on the Yorkshire moors, bringing with him an orphan gipsy boy he has found in the streets of Liverpool . The farmer already had a son and daughter, Hindley and Catherine - and the gipsy boy's name was of course Heathcliff. This story was the beginning of the classic romantic novel - Wuthering Heights.
I never got to hear the end of the story that day because the lights came back on before my teacher had got past the point where Heathcliff and Cathy fight, and Heathcliff runs away, to go and make his fortune. I never learned what happened when he came back - because it was obvious that he did come back - and I always wanted to know. But of course most of the story of Heathcliff's revenge was probably not suitable for young children.
But the story stayed with me and I wanted to know so much about it. I wanted to know what happened next. It was some years later that I found a book on my mother's bookshelf and, opening it, saw the names I remembered so well. I started to read - and didn't put it down until I had finished. It was an amazing story - but it never had the happy ending that I had hoped for.
So I was excited when editorial told me about the mini series The Powerful and the Pure where authors were inspired by the classic stories of romantic fiction and using them as a springboard created a whole new romance for the Presents line. This time I could create my own ‘what happens next’ – the one that I’d been wanting to know about all that time when I was younger.
So I wrote The Return of the Stranger. It’s not Wuthering Heights – it’s a brand new story. You don’t need to know anything about the original to reader it. And, I hope enjoy it. Lots of readers in the UK have already loved it - it was the #1 bestseller on the Mills & Boon website for the whole month of August after its release here in the UK. It also had a great five star review that said:
Mrs Walker triumphantly produces a powerful and intense novel which involves your emotions from start to finish. Heath is a super hero full of brooding passion and the delightful Katherine evokes your sympathy. Not to be missed - as they say they saved the best till last.
This blog is just one part of my great big blog tour (you can find the details here) to celebrate the publication of The Return of the Stranger – so I hope you’ll join me as I visit lots of different blogs all over the world. There are posts, writing advice – and lots of giveaways. And talking of giveaways, I have a copy of my book Bedded By The Greek Billionaire to give away with this post – just tell me what is the latest book made you think ‘what happened next . . ‘ so that you couldn’t put it down but just had to keep turning the pages. And all the posters in the comments section will be put into a draw to win a copy of this book.
Kate Walker’s The Return of the Stranger is out now in the UK and published on October 4th in Presents Extra in America or Sexy Romance in Australia. You can find out more details over on Kate's Web site – with all the most up to date news on her blog.