Interview with Catherine Coulter



Angela: Could you introduce yourself a little to your German readers?

Catherine Coulter: My name is Catherine Coulter. People think itís a pseudonym because itís so pretty, but itís not. Itís my maiden name. I was raised on a horse ranch in Texas, rode bareback without a bridal, scared my mother to death, and survived into adulthood. I love to read, to ski, to shop, and to visit with friends. My husband and I take two trips, usually to Europe, every year.
 
Angela: Why and how did you start to write?

Catherine Coulter: Writing talent is genetic, and it comes, in my case, from my grandmother who died at age 37 of a bleeding ulcer and she didnít have to, she was just stubborn. Also, my mother is a retired concert pianist/organist and my father is a painter/singer. I think all those genes rolled around and I was what came out of that particular mix. Writing was always easy for me. I did write two novels when I was fourteen. They were about fifteen pages long. Itís called the ďmoving right alongĒ syndrome. I wrote poetry in college, obligatory, I think for most arrogant freshmen students. I became a speechwriter in New York, for the president of an insurance-related company and I swear to you, I could make insurance funny. My husband was a medical student at Columbia Presbyterian and so I only saw him at dinner each night. And so I read, everything I could get my hands on. One evening I threw the book I was reading across the room and told my husband ďI can do better.Ē He said, ďletís do it.Ē We plotted The Autumn Countess together. When it was done, I had no clue what to do because back in the 70ís publishing was a ďblack holeĒ. I met a freelance editor and she read the manuscript and said letís go for it and so I sent it to the first editor on her list, Hilary Ross, Signet. Signet was then and is now the class Regency publisher in the world. Hilary called me at my office three days later, took me to lunch, and offered me a three-book contract. So I was very lucky, in the right place at the right time. Hilary likes to tell people that she pulled me up by my bootstraps out of a ditch in Soho.

Angela: How many books do you write a year? How does your workday look like and how do you research your books?

Catherine Coulter: During the past seven years, Iíve written 2 and 2/3 books a year. The 2/3 is the yearly ďrewrittenĒ book from my early Regencies. For the past 4 years, I have written one hardcover contemporary suspense thriller and one paperback historical romance. This year Iíll be rewriting Chandra (to be retitled Warriorís Song) for 200l. Then Iím cutting back to two books, described above. I am at my computer, answering fan mail (e-mail) at about 6:30 a.m. Hopefully Iím ready to begin work writing at 7:30. I go until about ll:00 and thatís it for original writing for the day unless thereís a crunch in the schedule, which happens, believe me.
As for research, I have a wonderful research library that Iíve collected over the years. However, now Iím on the internet. Itís magic. Itís instant knowledge. I havenít been in a library for a very long time.

Angela: You write mainly Regency books. Why do you love the Regency period so much? Did authors like Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen or Caroline Courtney influence your work? And why do you mainly write trilogies?

Catherine Coulter: I have written a great many regency trilogies/historical romances, thatís true. I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, my Masters Degree is in early 19th century English history, specifically the Napoleonic era. Iím at ease in that time, love it because so much was happening. There was such glitter, such excitement. Trilogies are such fun because you get to see your friends again and again, see what theyíre doing in their lives, see their children. And they always love to stick in their respective oars when they show up.

Angela: You wrote about ghosts in your Sherbrooke-trilogy. Do you believe in ghosts and would you like to write paranormal books one day?

Catherine Coulter: Nope, I have no interest in writing a paranormal book.

Yes, I believe in ghosts. I find them very attractive and humorous and very interesting. I like to include them, they literally add another dimension to a story.

Angela: You once picked up the King Arthurís legend and the mystery around his sword ďExcaliburĒ. Why did you write about it and do you think that he has really existed?

Catherine Coulter: In each of the Legacy Trilogy books, there was an extraordinary treasure. In the Wyndham Legacy, there was King Henry VIIIís treasure; ďExcaliburĒ in Nightingale Legacy and Blackbeardís treasure in Valentine Legacy. In The Courtship, we had Aladdinís Lamp. I enjoy the extraordinary. I donít have to believe in it, necessarily. In Lord of Falcon Ridge, we had both a magician and the Loch Ness monster. Whatís not to believe?

Angela: In your last book of the Viking-trilogy you used paranormal elements. Now I would like to know WHAT exactly was Varrick? Was he really Cleve's father? Why did his character changed so much? And was Chessa a sorceress like her father?

Catherine Coulter: Yes, Varrick was Cleveís father. No, Chessa wasnít a witch, and neither was her father. However, there was something in Chessa, wasnít there? Something inexplicable, something fascinating that
really couldnít be easily understood.

Angela: Your first book was "The Autumn Countess" and was more like the books of Victoria Holt. You never wrote such a book again. Why did you changed your style? Would you like to write another

Catherine Coulter: Actually, The Autumn Countess was a gothic. When I rewrote it Ė The Countess Ė I really made it more gothic than the original. After that first book, I simply didnít think of another plot that was gothic. I get ideas and if I like them, I write them. However, I got such a kick out of rewriting The Autumn Countess, that if I get another possible Gothic idea, Iíll write it. George was such a hoot, and the ghost of Caroline and the Black Chamber were exciting, and I loved the characters, e.g., Thomas who was so beautiful and a hypochondriac.

Angela: Was Impulse the first suspense book? You wrote about a connection that stole famous paintings and left duplicates for them. Where did you get this idea from and do you know if such connections exist?

Catherine Coulter: Impulse was the second contemporary hardcover suspense fiction. False Pretenses was the first. Yes, naturally there are a lot of fakes in museums. Just read books about it, listen to the news. Itís not at all uncommon. And even if a museum discovers that itís been duped/stolen from, sometimes nothing is said because of the embarrassment factor.

Angela: Isaw that you also wrote some Silhouette-books. Did you like to write them and do you still write them today?

Catherine Coulter: I wrote three Silhouette books. One in 1985, one in 1986, and the last one in 1987. The first one, Aftershocks, I wrote in my head on a train in Europe. I didnít know what to do with it so I called a friend and she said to call Leslie Wainger at Silhouette. She also told me how much money to tell my agent to ask for it. Everything went well. No, I have no plans to write more. No time.

Angela: What do you like more: writing contemporaries or historical books? What genre do you prefer and what genre is most challenging for you?

Catherine Coulter: I like writing both. For a good long time there I only wrote historical romances and I was getting burned out. They are two vastly different genres, each challenging in its own way. With the contemporary suspense, you have to be very tightly focused, you canít go off on fun tangents. You have to stay right on target so the reader will keep turning those pages.

Angela: Could you tell us more about your FBI series?

Catherine Coulter: The fifth book in the FBI series is Riptide. It will be published in hardcover in early July, 2000. I introduced Savich in The Cove, the first book in the series. At that time I hadnít even thought in terms of a series at all. The Cove was just a single book. However, I quickly got a plot about a woman named Sherlock and there was Savich and they went together perfectly and so, the series came to life. In all the books after The Maze, S&S appear, including in Riptide. I already know that the 6th book in the FBI series will be about one of Savichís sisters. The plot? I have no idea as yet.

Angela: For 20 years you are writing romance books and one could say that you are an romance author from the early hours of today's romance books. What changes did you note in this genre within the last years? How is the relationship between authors, other authors and fans? Is it easier for new authors today or is it even more difficult in finding acceptance or publishers?

Catherine Coulter: Iíve been in the business for 20 years. Iíve seen more changes in the past 5 years then there have been in all the rest of the years combined. The wholesale side of the business: five years ago there were nearly five hundred companies involved in the wholesale side of the business. Today four wholesalers control at least eighty percent of the business. An incredible change. The price clubs are now at least ten percent of the business. The internet, Amazon.com for example, are as of this moment, closing in on three percent of the business. The landscape is changing rapid and irrevocably.

It is no more difficult for a writer to get published today then it was twenty years ago. However, a new writer canít just sit back and grow; a new writer must do a lot of self-promotion, hope that sales increase from the first book to the second and so forth. Or the publishing house will simply dump the writer and hire on a new one. Itís a small fraternity. Most authors I know, and thatís quite a few, get along just fine.

Angela: In your earlier books you also write about rape and spanking but changed that style later. What I would like to know is: did you like to write those scenes, did authors have to write like this because this style was common until the late 80s/early 90s? What do you think today about your books like "Fire Song" where Graelam raped and spanked Kassia, was unfaithful etc.? For many years your historical romances belong to the laugh & laughter genre now. Why such a change?

Catherine Coulter: In the original wave of historical romances, they were truly ďbodice rippers.Ē Rape on Five Continents, I called them. That was what was popular, what people enjoyed reading back then. Times change. People change. No problem. Yes, I very much enjoy lots of laughs. When I edited Devilís Embrace, I wanted to remove the rape scene, but it wouldnít be the same book without it, so I had to leave it. What it taught me was that you shouldnít try to rewrite history. Thatís what we read and enjoyed then. Itís not what we read and enjoy now.

Angela: In most romance books the heroines are virgins, even when they were married before. Does this has something to do with a kind of "Sleeping Beauty"-complex of readers? Don't they want experience heroines?

Catherine Coulter: Most are virgins because if they werenít back in the good old days, they were harlots. Period.

Angela: Your books have been well-known for a long time for their sexscenes. In the last years you reduced the number of sexscenes in your books. Within the last years I got the impression that you stopped writing in such a sensual style?

Catherine Coulter: Sex scenes: I write little or a lot of sex depending on what the book calls for. For example, compare The Countess with The Courtship.

Angela: What are your favorite authors and books?

Catherine Coulter: My favorite authors include Dick Francis, Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Howard, John Sanford, Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Michaels, Iris Johansen, Steve Martini Ė so many others, too many to name.

Angela: Do you have a favorite book, hero or heroine among your books?

Catherine Coulter: My own favorite of the contemporaries is Beyond Eden. I think Taylor is about the neatest guy alive. In the historicals, my favorite, I think, is Earth Song.

Angela: Do you stay in contact with your fans and are they important to you?

Catherine Coulter: I write back to every fan. Are they important to me? What kind of a question is that? If they werenít important to me, Iíd go be a veterinarian.

Angela: As you write for such a long time you must have made some experiences wit bad reviews. How do you handle them?

Catherine Coulter: I donít read them.

Angela: Could you tell us more about your future plans?

Catherine Coulter: I plan to write one contemporary hardcover suspense a year and one paperback historical romance a year. For at least two more years, anyway. Then weíll see.

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Dieses Interview entstand im April 2000 zwischen Angela W. und Catherine Coulter für:



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