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CKindian
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton;
The House at Riverton is a wonderful book. You drew me straight into Grace's life. I truly enjoyed the way you moved from present to past times. Having older parents now, that have been suffering from health problems, they enjoy talking about everything they remember from their pasts. We have learned several interesting things that we had never heard before. Do you believe because Grace loved reading, it made her a better storyteller?

Carol
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Merryworld
Posts: 23
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

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
dg
Frequent Contributor
dg
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎10-13-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Kate,
I love to read but rarely choose to read mysteries. The House at Riverton was a fabulous mystery that I'm so happy I did happen to read. I will certainly be looking for your books in the future. This was really one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I belong to a book club and am considering choosing this as my next book and rereading it along with them, or choosing one of your other books since I'm also looking forward to reading your others.

Thanks for making this opportunity available and for joining in the discussion.
Donna
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


psujulie wrote:
Ms. Morton,

I loved your book and can't wait to read more of your books! I tried to read the book and stay with the chapter posts; but towards the end, I couldn't stop! :smileyhappy: I really appreciated the research you did for this book. I was also impressed with the number of recurring themes and how you wove them so well into the story.

I was wondering how long it took you to write The House at Riverton. I was also curious if you write everyday for a specific number of hours (kind of like a job) or if you write when the urge hits!

Thanks so much for a wonderful read!

Julie




Hi Julie,
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, and even more glad that you couldn't read it at a sensible pace! It took about a year to write The House at Riverton, but I'm a dedicated plotter and planner so a lot of my 'thinking' work is done before I type the first word. When I began the book my first son was four months old, so I only able to write when he was asleep. I would race to my desk and begin typing feverishly--there's a lot to be said for that kind of imperative!--until a hungry little cry would pull me back to the real world. With the second book I had my own office and a lot more time and it still took about a year to write. I think regardless of the time I have in which to work, there's an upper limit to the amount of words I can write in a day without my brain turning mushy.
Kate


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

Plot Spoilers in this reply!



jady25 wrote:
Kate,
I loved your book so much! I have a very demanding 3 month old little boy so I don't get to read a lot. I was amazed though how quickly I got through your book. Every time he would go to sleep I would throw myself back into the little world you created! I love the way that you write! I was very excited to see that you said the UK release of your new book is going to be in 2008. I have family in England and will be asking them to send me a copy as soon as it is out! I already can't wait to read it!!!!

Anyway, just one quick question for now. I was wondering if you knew in the beginning of the story exactly how Robbie would die. I was very shocked when I found out that it was Hannah who shot him! Then as I thought about the clues earlier in the book, like when they were at the street party and Hannah said that she knew he would have killed the other man, I couldn't believe that I didn't see it before. I was amazed that family won out over love. I was just wondering if you saw it that way or if it just happened that way as you wrote it.

Thanks for a wonderful read and I'm sure I will have more questions when I have a bit more time!

Lorna




Hi Lorna,
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book; your method of reading sounds a lot like the method I used to write it! One of the first images that came to me for The House at Riverton, was that of the young poet and two sisters standing on a dark lake bank while a jazz party raged in the background. I knew a gun would discharge, that the poet would die, and that history would mark his death as a suicide. I also knew it wasn't what really happened. I wrote in another post about the way it sometimes seems as if your unconscious brain knows what's going on before your conscious mind, and that's how it was with Robbie's death. I knew it wasn't suicide, and that it could only have been one of three other people, but for a time I couldn't settle on whodunnit. When I realised who it was, and why, it felt completely right. Like you, I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before. It was as it it were historical fact that I'd just uncovered. That's when I was ready to start writing.
Kate


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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

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

SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK

There have been a number of questions about the book on which posters here have posited different interpretations. Would you care to give the "official" version on these, or would you prefer to leave us in an unsettled condition?

One: Was Robbie really Florence's father?

Two: If so, did she get pregnant before the night of the attempted flight, and if so did she know it? If so, how come it took the doctor three more months to confirm it? Even in 1924, wasn't pregnancy determinable well before three months?

Three: Early on (I can't quote the exact passage) Grace says that The Game was materially responsible for the tragic events of 1924. How did you/she mean this? Was it because Robbie only came back to see Hannah because David asked him to return the book? Or was it something else, and if so what?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author



nhawkinsII wrote:
1. Why was it necessary to keep Grace's father a secret for much of the story? It was obvious Grace's mother had "protected" her daughter, but I found it unusual Grace could work at Riverton with her mother's peers and not learn the secret.


And a follow-up to that question: assuming that Grace (and we as we read) are correct that Frederick was Grace's father, who else knew that? Did any of the family or servants know it at the time that Grace was hired to work at Riverton? Would it have been possible to keep that a secret in a house tenanted by so many servants?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author



Iulievich wrote:
With due deference to my own curiosity and that of my co-readers, please DO NOT TELL US such things as who knew or did not know about Grace's paternity or, for that matter, whether Frederick was really her father. Do not clarify her relationship with Ruth, Ursula, or Marcus. Please be careful not to go too far in "clearing things up" in general. Tease us with more clues if you like, but please do not just tell us.>

Some of us would like to be told, and do not wish, as you do, to remain permanently in the dark about some of these things. Perhaps Ms. Morton could alert you and others who don't want these answers by noting that she is about to reveal spoilers. But I hope she won't prevent all of her readers here from clarifying some points because some others prefer to not to know.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


CKindian wrote:
Ms. Morton;
The House at Riverton is a wonderful book. You drew me straight into Grace's life. I truly enjoyed the way you moved from present to past times. Having older parents now, that have been suffering from health problems, they enjoy talking about everything they remember from their pasts. We have learned several interesting things that we had never heard before. Do you believe because Grace loved reading, it made her a better storyteller?

Carol




Hi Carol,
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! I'm sure there's a general relationship between a person's love for reading, and their ability to tell stories. I always think the best way to learn how to write is by reading: when you're immersed in a story, you can't help but absorb the narrative rhythms and the careful balance between flow and tension. Grace's love of reading must surely have made her a better storyteller.
Kate


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
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FrankieD
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Kate...thanks for the story, it kept me involved from cover to cover. This book club thing had me confused at first because I had trouble keeping the pace...sometimes too slow and other times too fast. Anyway, when I chose my own pace I smiled a lot more. I'm a Vietnam veteran and actually grew up with wartime influencing much of my life...and I even got a "Dear John" letter while walking through the jungle. Anyway, I enjoyed the WWI era as the back drop...and saw how it influenced many of the choices made by the characters.
Thanks again...
FrankieD:smileyhappy:
" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author



dg wrote:
Kate,
I love to read but rarely choose to read mysteries. The House at Riverton was a fabulous mystery that I'm so happy I did happen to read. I will certainly be looking for your books in the future. This was really one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I belong to a book club and am considering choosing this as my next book and rereading it along with them, or choosing one of your other books since I'm also looking forward to reading your others.

Thanks for making this opportunity available and for joining in the discussion.
Donna




Hi Donna,
Thanks for your post! I'm glad you enjoyed the book, and it's a pleasure to take part in the discussion. If you do decide to read The House at Riverton with your book club, there's a page of book club discussion questions on my website (www.katemorton.com) that might be useful.
Kate


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


FrankieD wrote:
Kate...thanks for the story, it kept me involved from cover to cover. This book club thing had me confused at first because I had trouble keeping the pace...sometimes too slow and other times too fast. Anyway, when I chose my own pace I smiled a lot more. I'm a Vietnam veteran and actually grew up with wartime influencing much of my life...and I even got a "Dear John" letter while walking through the jungle. Anyway, I enjoyed the WWI era as the back drop...and saw how it influenced many of the choices made by the characters.
Thanks again...
FrankieD:smileyhappy:




Hi Frankie,
Thanks for your post! I don't think I'd be very good at keeping to a particular reading pace, either. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the WWI back drop and that the war's influence on the lives of my characters rang true for you. To receive such feedback from a veteran is especially gratifying.
Happy reading,
Kate


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ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

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



KateMorton wrote:
If you do decide to read The House at Riverton with your book club, there's a page of book club discussion questions on my website (www.katemorton.com) that might be useful.
Kate


Thanks for that reference. There are some fantastic questions there: perhaps Karen can take a couple of them as the subjects of new threads, for those who have finished the book.

For example, I love your question "In the chapter titled ‘Resurrection’, Grace questions the veracity of recorded history. She quotes Lytton Strachey’s tenet that “ignorance [is] the first requisite of the historian”. Do you agree? Can records of history be believed? What about Ursula’s biographical film, thoroughly researched (eg the newspaper articles within the novel), accurate according to recognised historical record, yet at variance with Grace’s first-hand knowledge of events at Riverton? In what other ways does The Shifting Fog explore this notion of the difficulty of ever really knowing what happened in the past?" Though I do have to point out that Ursula does change at least one thing (where Robbie and Hannah first meet, as I recall) to make a better film, so maybe we shouldn't accept the film as being completely accurate to the historical record. Still, the point is an important one, the book presents the issue of historical accuracy (and the consequences of historical inaccuracy) nicely, and the question is well worth its own thread for discussion.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Luvstoread
Posts: 89
Registered: ‎12-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

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
Luvs2read (a/k/a Norma)
Frequent Contributor
Kat727
Posts: 56
Registered: ‎04-28-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

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.
peace and love
Kaylee/Kat
Wordsmith
BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

With regard to the veracity of recorded history and the quote from Strachey about "ignorance (being) the first requisite of the historian."

I read that quote to mean that the historian should approach his intended subject as though he knew nothing about it; should carry no baggage about what may be "common knowledge" or information from casual sources that he has not thoroughly vetted. The key work there is 'first'. I don't take it to suggest that the finished product of the historian should be in any way ignorant, or deficient in the facts. If you don't assume you already know the answers, you won't be as apt to overlook any sources or information that doesn't support those assumptions.

I think we have to concede that history is very complicated, can be seen and recorded from a variety of viewpoints, and one cannot be certain that one has every fact. I do think, though, that most serious historians take care to verify the information they receive, from a variety of independent sources. So I trust that much of what we refer to as recorded history is in fact an accurate portrayal of objective material (who, what, when, where). The subjective is, of course, much more open to speculation and revision. "Why" something happened is seen differently as time passes and civilization (hopefully) advances. Was Hannah merely the selfish, spoiled, game-player that some see, or was she understandably fighting back against the overwhelming oppression of being deliberately uneducated, not valued for herself, married too young to a self-centered, cold oaf; and having been raised with not an iota of understanding of her own sexual needs. We know how she would have been judged by almost everyone in her own time, but now, knowing what we do about gender bias, equal treatment for boys and girls, and all the other issues her story raises, we may perhaps view her with, if not admiration for the method she chose, at least sympathy for her need to escape an impossible situation.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author

SPOILERS IN THIS REPLY!



Everyman wrote:


nhawkinsII wrote:
1. Why was it necessary to keep Grace's father a secret for much of the story? It was obvious Grace's mother had "protected" her daughter, but I found it unusual Grace could work at Riverton with her mother's peers and not learn the secret.


And a follow-up to that question: assuming that Grace (and we as we read) are correct that Frederick was Grace's father, who else knew that? Did any of the family or servants know it at the time that Grace was hired to work at Riverton? Would it have been possible to keep that a secret in a house tenanted by so many servants?




The revelation of Grace's parentage is one of those elements in the novel that changed during the editing process. As I'd originally written the thread, there was suggestion that Grace was Frederick's illegitimate child, but it was never made explicit: certainly, Grace didn't have the moment of realisation that she does in the final version. I quite liked the idea that we, the reader, would know something that Grace herself did not, I felt that it added a layer of tragic irony to her situation. By and by, however, as the editing progressed, it was suggested that the references I'd made to Grace's parentage were simply too subtle (and they were very subtle: mere hints). I always believed that Grace was Frederick's daughter, Hannah and Emmeline's sister, so the editorial decision wasn't about the facts of her parentage per se, rather it was about whether Grace should realise the fact or not. In the end I decided to clarify the issue (it wasn't really supposed to be a big secret from the reader, so much as it was from Grace). Is it better that Grace realises? I'm still not sure, though it does add motivation to her decision to remain loyal to Hannah rather than to marry Alfred.

Phew, that was long-winded! Now onto Everyman's question. Grace's mother left Riverton before Grace was born, fourteen years before the book's action begins, so the servants who would have been privy, first hand, to the gossip of her dismissal, are Mrs Townsend and Mr Hamilton (and some of the peripheral, older staff members). Though there was no doubt a lot of gossip in servants' halls, I think these two were 'old-school' enough to have frowned upon discussing the Family's affairs with lower servants. After all, anything that reflected poorly on those upstairs damaged the standing of those downstairs too. I always felt that Mrs Townsend's fondness for Grace's mother was due to her belief that she had been treated poorly by the family after what Mrs T no doubt saw as Mr Frederick's indiscretion.


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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
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Re: Questions for the Author

SPOILERS IN THIS REPLY!

That's very interesting that you changed the issue of whether Grace knew about her parentage during the editing process, and aren't sure whether it was the right decision.

BTW, unless you changed some of the earlier text also, it wasn't all that subtle -- we as readers had pretty well settled on that (unless those were intentional red herrings) by the time Frederick first saw Grace in the upstairs hallway.

Thinking just a bit about it, I think I would have preferred that Grace never figure it out. I find it a bit difficult to believe that if Grece were convinced that she was Hannah's sister, she would have continued to wait on her in such a subservient role. In 1824, yes. In 1924, I'm not as convinced. But let that pass.

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.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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