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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


ELee wrote:
Hi Kate,

You really "captured" me with The House at Riverton; I love it when I can comfortably immerse myself in a book...

You have previously acknowledged that you have many older friends to draw experience from with regards to your characterization (presumably of Grace), which made me wonder:

Was there a particular aspect that you wanted to include in HaR that was unfamiliar territory for you and required more detailed research? You mentioned that both Grace and The Game came to you "fully formed". Was there an event or place historically that attracted you enough to warrant the same inclusion?

Thank you, and I am looking forward to your second book, especially the location (Cornwall)!




Hi ELee,
Oh yes, there were many aspects that required extensive research! It's actually amazing how much research is required for what turns out to be a minor part of the book. For instance, I did a lot of reserach on garden design and the types of fountains on country estates so that I could describe the two fountains on the Riverton estate. I also read heaps about the conditions on the battlefields of world war one, the diagnosis of shell shock, and the way people at home in England reacted to these poor, wounded souls. There aren't many scenes in the book that make explicit use of this research, but it was necessary for me to understand Alfred and Robbie, and the way they might react when they returned to a home that didn't seem to have changed, despite the horrors they'd seen.

I always think there are two types of reserach: conscious and unconscious. The former is self-evident: you go looking for a piece of information that you need. The latter is far more interesting, and by far my favourite type. It's when you read around the area you're interested in and things you don't realise are important to your story jump out at you. (This is also a great excuse for reading fascinating non-fiction and never feeling like you're procrastinating!!) I do a lot of this sort of research when I'm in the plotting and planning phase of the book, before I've started writing. It really helps to get a feel for the book's 'flavour'. It's actually one of my favourite parts of the process--so many possibilities!
Kate


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Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

A question that's been bothering me. We are assuming that the box the key to which was in the locket held money or other valuables that Grace used to fund her education. It must have been a fair amount of money (or valuables) to have taken somebody who left school at 14 and educate her all the way through a doctorate. So, where did Hannah get that money? Frederick was essentially bankrupt: there could hardly have been any inheritance for her. Given Teddy's view of the role of women and wives, I can't imagine him making her a generous allowance that she could have saved such a substantial sum from. (He would have paid her bills, yes, but given her bunches of cash? I don't see it.) There is no mention that David left her anything, and Emmeline certainly wouldn't have given her a sizable chunk of money. You would think that if she were running away from her husband to live in foreign lands, given her desire for independence (and her realization that independence takes money), she would have wanted to keep at least some money for herself.

So where did Hannah get that much spare money to leave in the box?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Everyman wrote:
SPOILERS IN THIS REPLY!

I was a bit surprised that you didn't do more with the parallel and yet vast difference between Robbie and Grace. Both were illegitimate children of a male family member and a female servant. But Robbie was honored with the title and the inheritance of the estate, while Grace had to go int o service at age 14 and essentially shunned by her paternal family. This, along with the suffragette issue which, as another poster noted, was mentioned but basically dropped, was a compelling comment on the vast gender discrimination which still existed at the time, but you didn't do much at all with it other than slip these comments in and let them remain as orphan elements. Not that I'm sure what else you could have done with them (you're the creative one, not me!), but you must have created the Robbie/Grace parallel on purpose (why else make him illegitimate also), but we never see Grace reflecting on that or anybody else recognizing the inequity.




Hi Everyman,
It's always difficult to decide how explicit to make such parallels. For me, as a reader, I generally prefer subtlely (as do you, I suspect, given your take on Grace's parentage). With regards the Grace/Robbie parallel, it's enough for me that you, as a reader, note the parallel and the inequity between their two lots. I wonder whether having a character reflect upon it in a more overt way might have made it too obvious?
Kate


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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Now that I have finished the book and I can look back on some of the discussions still going on, I see that some are wondering whether Teddy was gay. I know that it was suggested to his father that people might wonder things about him, at his age and not married, and it appears he and Hannah didnt really have an intimate life until it was suggested he get her pregnant,(when she already was). So some were suggesting to just ask you , was Teddy gay? I had, in the part where David first brings Robbie home, wondered if something was going on between them from the way they talked to each other and especially the way David talk to him, so later knowing that Robbie would come back, I even wondered if Teddy would wind up being the one having an affair with Robbie lol. We discussed David and Robbie's relationship early on. So, ok, i will just ask, was either Teddy or Robbie gay? Wouldnt that have been a triangle if when Robbie got back, it was he and Teddy hiding the secret affair!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

What a great book, I loved it and your characters were very vividly drawn. I look forward to reading your next book The Forgotten Garden (according to your website). Will it be published in America?
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Tarri wrote:
What a great book, I loved it and your characters were very vividly drawn. I look forward to reading your next book The Forgotten Garden (according to your website). Will it be published in America?




Hi Terri,
Thanks for your post, I'm so glad you enjoyed THatR. And yes, Atria will be publishing The Forgotten Garden in America, though I'm not sure of the publication date.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Merryworld wrote:
Hi Kate! I really enjoyed the book, definitely a page turner.

I have two questions:

1. Deborah and Hannah's relationship: Did you intend to make Deborah so distasteful? I could see their roles being reversed if David had lived, and Hannah being just as manipulative in David's life. Both make a choice that seems to leave them wanting something else and they seem to be two sides of the same coin.

2. Could you tell us how long it took you to write the story, how many drafts you went through and, did it change significantly as you wrote it?

Thanks so much,
Merry




Hi Merry,
I certainly did: it's a lot of fun writing a character like Deborah! I always felt that she was envious of Hannah, just as Hannah was no doubt envious of Deborah's apparent freedom. In that sense, I suppose, they are two sides of the one coin. I was enormously fond of Hannah though, so generally speaking I saw them as quite different characters. But you raise an interesting point: I wonder how Hannah's closeness with David would have manifested if he'd had the chance to grow older and marry...?

THatR took about a year to write. As I've mentioned before, I'm a committed planner: in the course of writing a book, I fill numerous A4 notebooks with research, ideas, questions to myself (yes, really: question marks and all!), chapter plans etc. I think writers who work in this way (the retentive ones, that is!) tend to do less drafts than writers who dive straight into the writing, if only because they've already followed false leads in the planning phase.

I also do a lot of editing as I go: sometimes I'll print a chapter out, read it through and mark up changes, a dozen times before I move on to the next one. As such, my 'first draft' isn't really a 'first draft' in the same way it would be if I sat down and hammered the keyboard for six weeks and 150 000 words. My first draft tends to be the right shape, it just needs work making it the right colour!
Kate


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Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton -- to this reader, you have already joined the ranks of your Australian colleague, Colleen Mccullough, for your ability to write a good read! Thank you for the gifts of your talents.

Several inserts from newspapers, et al, were omitted in the editing from the Australian version to the British one.

Please comment on those changes and their impact on your book -- both for you as author and for the reader.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Contributor
lilfisha
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎03-28-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

I really enjoyed reading The House at Riverton. I did not enjoy analyzing it though. I felt pulled into the lives of the characters and that was plenty good enough for me. I did come away with a question though -- how, if at all, did your own beliefs on gun control affect your writing of this book. Also, did the fact that Australia has in the recent past restricted the owning of firearms, contribute to the decision to use a gun as the weapon? Your book could very well be used to show that gun control does not work since they were banned in England.
Inspired Correspondent
jclay26
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

I really loved this novel. I tried very hard to stick to the reading schedule so that I could respond to each chapter on the message board without spoilers, but I could not put it down. I really loved the way you intertwined little hints within the chapters that make the reader want to continue to read to find out exactly how the hint would work out. I really enjoyed being able to visualize the difference between the servants and the elites - the way they interacted with each other and their different perspectives on life. Though Grace was in her own prison of sorts, so was Hannah even though they were in different classes. I also found interesting the way the women of older generations used manipulation to get the women of the younger generation to do what they wanted them to do. The older generation seemed to be oblivious to the suffocation that the younger generation was feeling. I am very grateful that we were given the chance to read this book in advance. It makes me feel special to read something in advance, kind of like I have a little secret that I set time aside to divulge in. I would just like to know a little bit about what it takes to write a novel. I was amazed at how the little hints were dispersed throughout the novel and I wondered how that works. Do you write as you go or do you have the entire story somewhat mapped out and then begin writing? Did you have to go back and add in the hints throughout or did you just place the hints in and resolved them later within the process of writing?

Once again, I really loved this novel and really appreciate your taking the time to read our posts and respond. Good luck on all your future endeavors!
What you have to do...is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself. - Tim O'Brien; The Things They Carried
Contributor
pousterj
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎09-03-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Dear Ms. Morton:
I was very pleased to read your book. I have been on this theme for the past year about the era before and after World War I. I started off reading Anne Perry's World War I series which was excellent. I then started watching Upstairs Downstairs. My sister and I went to Kansas City, MO to visit the World War I museum. It is said to be at the top for WWI. To be able to then join this group and read your wonderful has been a real pleasure. It truly is a very interesting time in history. I really enjoyed how you were able to show the devotion the "downstairs" staff felt for their "upstairs" people. I don't think can fully understand how Grace could give up Albert for her half-sisters. Grace was so devoted to the people she worked for, but could not share that love with her daughter. Interesting, but very real. I loved that Grace was telling it as a very old person. I hope to someday be as clear in my thinking to remember things in my past like Grace did.

Loved the book! Looking forward to your next one.
Jamie
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Peppermill wrote:
Ms. Morton -- to this reader, you have already joined the ranks of your Australian colleague, Colleen Mccullough, for your ability to write a good read! Thank you for the gifts of your talents.

Several inserts from newspapers, et al, were omitted in the editing from the Australian version to the British one.

Please comment on those changes and their impact on your book -- both for you as author and for the reader.




Hi there, thanks for the lovely compliment! You're right, the Australian version (and most of the foreign translations) contains a number of embedded texts: three segments of filmscript from Ursula's film, a couple of newspaper articles, the letter sent to the Hartford family advising of David's war death, and an English Heritage article (invented, of course) describing the grounds and history of the Riverton estate. These were cut from the UK version for various reasons, including publisher concerns about how comfortable people would be with reading film script (the US version is the same as that in the UK). I was surprised to realise how well the story worked without the articles etc, however I'm planning on putting them onto my website soon so that readers in the UK and US can read them if they choose. While they don't offer new information, they do provide additional layers to the central story, and, as a reader, I love that sort of thing!

The Forgotten Garden contains three Victorian fairytales, written by one of my characters, and I'm pleased to say that the text will be uniform in all territories!
Kate


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Peppermill
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Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

While they don't offer new information, they do provide additional layers to the central story, and, as a reader, I love that sort of thing!

Ms. Morton -- Thanks for your response!

I have still missed the text, other than that first letter from Ursula (found via Google), that tells me the story begins in November, 1998, versus November, 1999. It must have been a sometimes tedious challenge to get all the necessary tidbits transferred to the main text.

I am not certain how I "generally feel" about inserts in novels, but I liked those I encountered in the parts of The Shifting Fog that I have seen. I am glad they will eventually appear on your website. I hope you include the references that are in your author's note as well. (I belong to the type who wants tables and figures summarized in the text with words when reading non-fiction.)

Sometimes, as I read I wondered if you were being a fabulist about the current Middle Eastern warfare. It seemed as if there might be a lot of hints that if strung together could construct a parable.

I look forward to The Forgotten Garden.


KateMorton wrote:

Peppermill wrote:
Ms. Morton -- to this reader, you have already joined the ranks of your Australian colleague, Colleen Mccullough, for your ability to write a good read! Thank you for the gifts of your talents.

Several inserts from newspapers, et al, were omitted in the editing from the Australian version to the British one.

Please comment on those changes and their impact on your book -- both for you as author and for the reader.




Hi there, thanks for the lovely compliment! You're right, the Australian version (and most of the foreign translations) contains a number of embedded texts: three segments of filmscript from Ursula's film, a couple of newspaper articles, the letter sent to the Hartford family advising of David's war death, and an English Heritage article (invented, of course) describing the grounds and history of the Riverton estate. These were cut from the UK version for various reasons, including publisher concerns about how comfortable people would be with reading film script (the US version is the same as that in the UK). I was surprised to realise how well the story worked without the articles etc, however I'm planning on putting them onto my website soon so that readers in the UK and US can read them if they choose. While they don't offer new information, they do provide additional layers to the central story, and, as a reader, I love that sort of thing!

The Forgotten Garden contains three Victorian fairytales, written by one of my characters, and I'm pleased to say that the text will be uniform in all territories! Kate

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Contributor
Margaret42
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Kate,
I just finished your book this afternoon, which I guess will be tomorrow for you. It was like taking a book by Philippa Gregory, Daphne DuMaurier, and Victoria Holt putting them in a bag and shaking them. I loved it. I work in a public library in Brockville, Ontario and I will definitely recommend this book to patrons. I am very glad I don't have to wait a year to read another book by you. If I'm not mistaken you mentioned Canadians once or twice in the book...nice touch! Thanks for the great book.
Margie
m a r g a r e t~
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


KathyS wrote:
Kate,
First off, I want to congratulate you on this novel. It's brilliant! I'm finding it fascinating and seamless throughout, with all of these transitions you have made, with all of these characters, within this great storyline. I'm watching the changes you've made with the character, Grace. I'm amazed how you've pulled it off!

I'm just a little over halfway through reading it, not wanting to finish it too soon, stretching it out - I've slowed my reading down, just to enjoy every page.

I am so looking forward to The Forgotten Garden, it sounds like another 'mystery', with all of the same questionings that I've had throughout the HaR reading! I love the chosen setting of Cornwall, that setting alone captivates me.

Thank you so much for taking the time to join in this group's discussion.
A lot of happy readers, here.......

Me, for one,
Kathy S.




Hi Cathy,
Thanks for your post; I'm so glad you're enjoying THatR. Regarding the Cornish setting of The Forgotten Garden, one of the things I like most about writing is having the opportunity to spend the better part of a year in the location of my choice. It's a very cheap form of travel! I spent a wonderful 2007 on the windswept clifftops of Cornwall, without having to leave home... (And yes, TFG is a mystery.)
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
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Re: Questions for the Author


Luvstoread wrote:
Hi Ms. Morton:
First I want to thank you for the opportunity to read your book before the actual publication. I am still reading it. I am a slow reader (a lot of other things going on right now). I am really enjoying it and everyone's comments so far. I look forward to your next book too!
Sincerely, Norma




Hi Norma,
I'm glad you're enjoying THatR. The First Look book club is a great idea, isn't it? I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the book, and writing in general, with so many fellow booklovers.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
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Re: Questions for the Author



Kat727 wrote:
Ms. Morton,
First of all I would really like to thank you for taking the time to get on the message boards. I really enjoyed the book; I was instantly drawn into the book. I loved how I felt like I really knew about the characters and I cared what happened to them. Even though Grace was the main character I was definitely more interested in Hannah’s story, she was my favorite character right away; I loved the scene with the recital and how she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind even in front of all those people. I love your style of writing; some of your lines were so amazing that I continue to read them over and over.
“I know a lot about secrets; I have made them my life.”
“She did not know, couldn’t know where it all would lead. If she had, she told me later, she’d have kissed him one last time, turned and run as fast and as far as she could.”
“No it wasn’t a sudden death; she’d been dying for months.”
Those are my favorite lines. I was kind of afraid that the whole book I would just be waiting for that one night, but I was so caught up in the rest of the story that I didn’t have time to get bored. I do have to say that my favorite part in the book is when Hannah is in the garden and she says to Grace, “You don’t know shorthand”. Even though it is a little part there are so much weight behind those words. I won’t take anymore of your time, as there are so many posts to read. Thanks for this great book and I hope to read more from you in the future.




Hi there, thanks for your post and your kind words about THatR. I'm glad that you liked Hannah so much: I'm very fond of her, too.
Kate


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Kat727
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Registered: ‎04-28-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

I agree with you Vivian, when David brings Robbie home I wandered if they were lovers, but I definitely got the feeling that Teddy was gay.
peace and love
Kaylee/Kat
Contributor
fictionhound
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎10-21-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

first of all, thank you for allowing us to read your book as a first look book. it is always wonderful to read something that is so fresh & unique. having the story told using past & present with grace as the narrator pulls you right into the story. the settings for the past remind me of jane austen novels (which i adore), but the mysterious death adds a whole new layer to the novel. i love a good mystery. i also loved seeing how times changed throughout grace's life. it isn't often that you get to experience such a different world from the one you live in & understand how someone from a previous generation lived. needless to say i really enjoyed the book & will be buying the hardcover when it is released. i am most eager to read the supplemental material that was removed from the us edition. those are the little treats that make a novel so rich.

now to my question & i'm not sure if someone might have asked this already...but when did you decide that robbie's death would result from the fact that grace never told hannah the truth about shorthand??? it is such a simple thing that grace never set her straight about it, but in the end a small lie can have such huge consequences. it is such a profound way to make us reflect on our own lives & the little things that we let slip.

i look forward to your next novel. it sounds wonderful.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author


Kat727 wrote:
I agree with you Vivian, when David brings Robbie home I wandered if they were lovers, but I definitely got the feeling that Teddy was gay.


guess we will have to wait and see if she answers this one. I am home from my surgery and see that she has posted but nothing about this.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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