Friday, February 23, 2007

A fine soft day

It's raining. That shouldn't surprise me, after all, in England February is traditionally known as 'February Fill-Dyke' meaning that it usually brings enough rain to fill all the dykes and ditches to bursting point. So I should expect to wake up and hear the rain spattering the window panes.

It was like this last week. I was in Ireland then. And over in Ireland they would call a wet day like this 'a fine, soft day.' That being so, we had almost a week of fine soft days - with a couple of lovely sunny ones thrown in too. I've just come back from a week spent touring the country where my mother and father were born, along with my husband and another Presents author Anne McAllister. Anne was there to do research - specific research. She wants to set a book in Ireland with an Irish hero and she was looking for the old house he would live in, the gardens that would surround it, the nearby towns he would have visited. And I was doing much the same - researching. But not in quite that specific way.

I absorbed the details of the countryside, the yellow-green fields, the sheep and the new born lambs. I noted the tiny single storey houses lining the village streets, the wonderful colours that some of them are painted - deep red, blue, yellow, green . . . And I walked round the same house, the same garden as Anne -and one day I will use many of those details in a book myself. But not at all in the same way that she will.

This time, as I walked around Ireland, I was working very hard in a way you couldn't see. I was thinking and planning and holding imaginary conversations with the new hero of my latest book - a Spanish aristocrat called Raul MarcĂ­n - and finding out more about him. There's something very stimulating about being away from the desk, away from the written page and just wandering about in a world that is so very different from the one I want to write about. It's as if the contrast between what I see and what I'm imagining works on my mind and stirs it to create. Anne went home knowing a lot more about her Irish hero and ready to write about him - and I came back with my head full of ideas of Raul and his story. A story that was thousands of miles away from the fine 'soft' days in Ireland.

That's the great thing about being a writer - if you don't like the world, the weather, the scenery outside your window, you can change it. And so I don't mind at all the fact that it's raining yet again - I can spend the day in the warm sunshine of Spain and live that experience instead of the grey dull one in reality.

But there are other reasons why being a writer can bring sunshine into your life. For me, usually Februrary is one of the greyest months of the year. Dark and gloomy and too far away from Christmas, with Spring still too deeply buried to be even hinting at appearing. But this month has been wonderful for me - not just because of the trip to Ireland but because when I came home it was to discover that my February book The Italian's Forced Bride had spent three weeks on the Waldenbooks' Top Ten listing - one of them at #1 - and now it's marked with a big red 'Sold Out' sign on That's something to bring plenty of sunshine into my life. Thank you to all the readers who bought it - I hope the story brought the sunshine of enjoyment into your world.

And then there's the new book coming up - Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is already on the best seller lists on and it isn't even published yet.

So the skies may be grey and gloomy. The rain may be heavy and soaking, but inside I'm thinking of that Irish saying - it's a 'fine soft day' and there's the promise of more sunshine to come.

So I'm wishing happiness for all of you - what brings the sunshine into your life and drives all those dark clouds and greyness out of your life? Share some of your 'day-brighteners' with me and we'll chase the glooms away.

And if you'd like to read more about my trip to Ireland and see some of the photos I'm sharing, then visit my blog for more detailed reports.


Margaret McDonagh said...

So glad you had such a wonderful time in Ireland, Kate. It's a beautiful country with wonderful people, and the "soft fine days" make the landscape so special! I can't wait to see the results of the trip in Anne's finished books. And any more inspired by the trip for you both.


Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Dear Kate, you well know this book "knocked off my socks" so to speak. But I would like to ask all HP authors......I've noticed lately or the past two months that HP books are very intense, I love that sppect but it's hard on the heart!@

Your book, well I had the priviledge of reading it months ago and I can't imagine why this wouldn't be voted for some sort of award!

Kate Walker said...

Hi Mags - I loved Ireland, but then my family have their roots there so I suppose it calls to me specially. I think you'll see the results of our research in Anne's book first - I'm too busy with a Spaniard!

Hi Marilyn. I'm honoured by the delight you had in The Italian's Forced Bride - as you know it's a special book to me, and knowing that it speaks to you so much means a lot to me. The Presents books are so very intense aren't they? It's part of their appeal I think - but it does leave you feeling 'wrung out' if you read a good one. It also leaves the author feeling limp and weary at the end of a book!


Jennifer Y. said...

I am looking forward to your next book...I adored The Italian's Forced Bride!

Kate Walker said...

Thank you Jennifer - I'm so glad you enjoyed The Italian's Forced Bride so much. You don't have too long to wait for the next one - Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is out in America in April - and it's very nearly March now!


Jennifer Y. said...

Cool Kate!