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IF THERE’S SUCH A THING AS A LITERARY IT GIRL, KATE PERRY surely must fit the bill. The author of more than 30 books, mostly romance, Perry is a self-confessed tutu-sporting, Champagne IMG_9849swilling Black Belt, who loves nothing more than having fun. She’s the kind of girl you want to be in your gang – effervescent, quirky, funny and strong. All traits that she gladly shares with her characters.

‘I’m a kickass girl,’ she admits, ‘and I like to write about kickass girls, even if they have to find the strength in themselves. Girls like us tend to tell our own stories.’

And Perry is a storyteller, weaving magic wherever she goes, much to the delight of her millions of fans.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when I ask her about her childhood:

I was born a princess in a land perfumed by spices, where the moon kissed both mountain and sea. I was blessed with a magic so rare that all who gazed upon me gasped in amazement. But I was stolen from my people and taken across the world, to a less magical place where I learned to hide who I was for years, because being different was less accepted. Still, I was who I was, and my uniqueness spilled into my life.

The land ‘perfumed by spices’ was Iran from where her parents moved when Perry was a toddler. They settled first in the Pacific Northwest, before moving on to California.

‘I still remember seeing my first palm tree as we drove into the Bay Area,’ she recalls.

Family – blood or otherwise – is important to Perry and familial relationships are something that she explores extensively in her writing. In Perry’s worlds, strangers are embraced, bonds formed, friendship extended and ‘family’ created, where it doesn’t exist already.

‘I have the sort of friends who open their doors and let you stay for as long as you need, even if it’s forever,’ Perry explains. ‘They’re awesome, and my sister is awesomer. She’s my best friend, my editor, my partner in crime, and a professional donut enthusiast. My brother is an enigma who may or may not be a spy. I love them both even though they’ve plagued me all their lives.’

Books featured prominently in her childhood. Perry recalls reading avidly – ‘only a book a day, sometimes two’. Apart from fairytales, she particularly loved Judy Blume’s Superfudge, Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and ‘anything by Nietzsche’. Of course.

d9c2300b45b8ba8394783f5576d072eeToday her reading tastes remain eclectic and she lists books by masterly historical novelist Dorothy Dunnett (especially the Lymond Chronicles; see right), travel writer Peter Mayle, Marvel man Stan Lee and fantasy author David Eddings among her favourites.

Film and music are also great loves, as evidenced in her writing, which is peppered with popular culture references. In Let’s Misbehave, Merrick, former Rock God-turned politician, writes and performs a song for heroine Gigi Summerhill, featuring extremely credible lyrics by Perry herself. In fact, Perry creates a soundtrack for each of her books. ‘I should share them on Spotify,’ she says in what’s obviously a light bulb moment. ‘I’ll get on that.’ And I’m sure she will.

Writing has been a passion since childhood when Perry first penned letters like a ‘demented Victorian’.

‘You know how the US postal system is failing these days? It’s because I stopped writing letters. Between my friends, former teachers I kept in touch with, and my penpal in Montreal (who I wrote to for ten years), I mailed about a dozen letters a week.

‘I also wrote the occasional story, like the horror story about the wrapping paper. My best friend from high school reminded me that I’d started writing a romance when I was fifteen, set in Fiji. I’d forgotten about that.’

Despite this, she took a variety of jobs before taking the plunge to write full-time. Her favourite was working as a bookseller when she was sixteen. ‘I LOVED that gig. Customers were always happy and enthusiastic to talk to you, and I got to borrow any book I wanted from the store.’

World domination beckoned, however, and Perry turned her skills to running international client relations and support for a tech company. ‘I tried to get them to change my title to “Overlord” but they never got around to it,’ she quips.

She was so successful that when the tech bubble burst, she was offered a promotion rather than a redundancy package and was told she could work anywhere she wanted in the world. Something was missing though; she resigned to work out what it was.

It took a year and a half before Perry realised that she wanted to write and nothing else. Two years later, in 2006, she published her first book, Project Daddy. The rest, as they say, is history.

KP FG SeriesAbove: The “Fillmore & Greenwich” series’ covers

 

ALTHOUGH SHE SELF-PUBLISHES TODAY, Perry originally went down the traditional publishing route, following up her 2006 novel with Project Date (2007) and the ‘Guardians of Destiny’ series (2009–10). It was a great learning curve, from a writing as well as business perspective, she says, but she decided to break ranks and go ‘rogue’ as it wasn’t quite the right fit. She didn’t like being told when to publish and what to write by people who were seemingly less invested in her writing than she was – feelings some other contemporary writers share.

‘Plus, I’m a peacock – I gotta fly!’ she says. ‘Now I’m in control of my career and my work,’ although she’s quick to add, ‘I have no regrets. I value everything I learned by being traditionally published, and now … I’m not seduced by the allure of being in print. Not to mention that I’m happy I’m my own boss now. I’m an awesome boss.’

A large part of Perry’s success lies in the fact that she obviously loves what she does. It’s a passion – but one that she takes extremely seriously. ‘I’m a get-it-done-er. Pants. No pants. Yoga pants … I do whatever it takes.’

She writes everywhere – in her office at home, of course, but also in cafes, wine bars, museums, buses, planes, literally anywhere in the world. Habit, she states, is key to success.

KateANDKatieinSpecsWith her invaluable ‘Girl Friday’ Katie (see right), she maps out her books up to two years in advance of publication and her deadlines are set in stone. ‘I take them very seriously,’ she says. ‘They might be the only things I take seriously. Well, the deadlines and champagne.’

And that strict adherence to schedules is all the more remarkable when one takes into consideration that an average Perry book takes just 10 to 12 weeks to complete, a huge feat in modern publishing. When I comment on this, she expounds, ‘I was writing in a 6- to 8-week cycle, but in consideration for my sanity we backed off.’

This well-oiled writing machine is made possible because of Perry’s publishing dream team. ‘It takes a village,’ she says, generously giving credit where credit’s due.

‘My editor is involved throughout the writing process, shaping the book with inspiring comments like “You’re such a writer. In a good way.” After my two rounds of revisions, the manuscript goes to my copyeditor as well as Katie, who catch any discrepancies. Then it goes to Team Kate who read, review, and catch any of the last tiny typos we may have missed.’

An essential part of that team is Perry’s Magic Man, her husband of two years, who provides love and support in spades. Perry mentions him frequently on social media and in interviews.

‘We met at a truck stop in Southern California. In the men’s room. Ahem…’ she twinkles.

When I ask her if her gorgeous but often conflicted heroes are based on her husband, she says, ‘My heroines would be lucky to end up with a someone like my Magic Man. I like to think they’re all pretty lucky, though no one can be as lucky as me … He is my best friend, makes me laugh, doesn’t let me get too big for my britches, has a wicked wit, cooks wonderful dinners so I have food when I break from writing, is always available for inspiration and believes in me with unwavering faith.’

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Above: Kate Perry and her Magic Man – lovin’ the shoes

 

SHE’S LUCKY INDEED. It appears she’s found her soul mate.

‘I do believe in soul mates,’ Perry comments thoughtfully, ‘but I also believe that there’s not just one person that’s perfect for you. Soul mates change as you change.

‘If I’d met my husband any earlier, I don’t think we’d have gotten along. We met at the perfect time for both of us.’

One could say that meeting was fate. Perry had just returned to San Francisco after dividing her time between Buenos Aires (a favourite city) and New York. ‘It was meant to be, because I met my Magic Man right after I returned.’

Although San Francisco is still home, Perry travels extensively, one of the attractions of writing in the first place. Luckily, her Magic Man is free to travel with her and Perry can investigate whichever destination takes her fancy.

Location is important to Perry and there’s a great sense of place and community in her novels, whether it be the exclusive environs of San Francisco in the ‘Laurel Heights’ series or London and Paris in the ‘Summerhill’ series.

‘My accountant encouraged me to write about the places I wanted to travel to. Wink. Expect to see stories set in Lisbon, Shanghai, and New Orleans soon. A little known fact: Originally, the “Summerhill” series was going to be about six Australian brothers.

‘That may still happen one day, because I love boys.’

That’s a statement that’s certainly easy to believe. Perry is an equal opportunity writer: her strong male characters are as fully rounded as her female protagonists and friendship and family are just as important to them. While Perry’s women get through their days and crises with the support of their friends, their male counterparts cope in exactly the same way, cheered on by those closest to them.

 

GAL_WebIN PERRY’S LATEST NOVEL, Give a Little, Luca, gorgeous Italian racing driver and friend and honorary member of the Summerhill family, gets his moment in the sun along with Bea, the oldest of the sisters. It’s been a long time coming and this, the final installment, ties up several loose ends, while also very cleverly introducing Perry’s new project.

Just as Rosalind successfully provides the link between San Francisco’s ‘Laurel Heights’’ characters and London’s Summerhill women, Sebastian Tate, the rather arcane Earl of Amberlin, forms the bridge between the ‘Summerhill’ and new ‘Fillmore & Greenwich’ series.

Again location proves important: the latter takes its name from a crossroads in the Marina district of San Francisco. ‘It’s a neighbourhood corner of shopkeepers, residents and a fireman or two,’ Perry explains. ‘There are new friends, but also some old friends like Sebastian and some people from Laurel Heights.’

Sebastian’s story, What a Girl Wants, is out in June and, as Perry works two years ahead, it’s no surprise that she’s already got all the books mapped out. So I have to ask her what’s next? She’s firmly established as a contemporary romance writer, but do any other genres appeal?

Her answer is perhaps surprising.

‘Historical … I LOVE historical novels. One of my favorites is The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie, about a Germanic woman warrior captured by the Romans.

‘I also love love LOVE The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. And the Niccolò series. And give me anything Regency romance – swoon!

‘I actually have two historical novels I’ve written. I don’t know when I’ll publish them, but I love them both. One’s an Arthurian legend set in Roman Britain about a Persian girl. The other is a frothy Regency.’

And that willingness to push boundaries is what makes Kate Perry such an interesting writer. That and the fact that:

She is fearless.

She is willing to try anything.

She seizes the day.

She lives life to the full.

Just like her characters do.

 

WHEN I ASK PERRY whether, in retrospect, she’d do anything differently, she’s emphatic in her response.

Never. Everything in my life has led me to where I am, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

‘In fact, my epitaph would read: “She came. She saw. She conquered.”’

An apt summation of a life well lived.

And very fine words, indeed.

 

Give a Little (Summerhill #7) is published on 23 March 2015 and is available on Amazon and iTunes. To read the review and also see a sneak preview of the book  click here.  Please join Kate Perry and best-selling Nora Roberts Land author Ava Miles for a banter session in The Literary Lounge soon. Watch this space.

 

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Fillmore & Greenwich’, Kate Perry’s new series, kicks off in June 2015 with What a Girl Wants, Sebastian Tate’s story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to: Kate Perry and Katie Walker for their time and efforts.

Images: Kate Perry proving she’s a Literary It Girl; Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series (Pinterest); the ‘Fillmore & Greenwich’ series covers, Perry’s new series; Kate with her ‘Girl Friday’ Katie (in specs); Magic Man, wearing rather cool shoes, with Kate Perry, wearing equally cool Cowboy boots; Give a Little cover, Summerhill #7, published March 2015;  What a Girl Wants cover, Fillmore & Greenwich #1, published June 2015. All images, except Lymond series, kindly supplied by the author.

 

Reviews: ‘Kate Perry’s Give a Little, a review – Beatric in love and a sneak preview of the book‘; From London to Paris and back again – Kate Perry’s How Sweet It Is’; ‘Believing in Nora Roberts Land – take novelist Ava Miles’ advice’

See also:Pinterest – “inspiration snacking” or something more? A few tips for authors‘.

 

Notice: Please note the images used in this article are by kind permission of Ms Perry, unless stated otherwise. All other images are for promotional use only. The extract from pages 40–45 of Give a Little is © 2015 Phoenix Rising Enterprises. Please contact Ms Perry for further information.

 

This article is ©The Literary Shed, 2015. All rights reserved. Please only reproduce it with our permission and contact us if you wish to do so.

 

 

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