Category Archives: Author Feature

SCAMMER GIRL: Release day blog post featuring Michelle Dayton!

A few years ago, I noticed something fun on my Twitter feed. All of the writers that I most loved to follow were posting Spotify Playlists for their books. What an incredible idea! (And for me – what an incredibly fun way to procrastinate the actual writing part!)

I’ve created playlists for my last three projects, but the list of songs I put together for SCAMMER GIRL has been the one I’ve listened to most. So I thought I’d share it in case you want to listen – and I’ve included notes on why I chose each song!


  1. Dancing with Myself – Billy Idol.  I chose this song because it reminds me of Jo at the beginning of the book. She’s a brilliant woman, confident in her brain and skills. She runs a lucrative business and she’s a big sister-figure to her team.  She’s also lonely – not that she would ever admit it.
  2. Because the Night – 10,000 Maniacs
  3. Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie
  4. Wild World – Cat Stevens.  Jo and Jamie get to know one another quite a bit via letters. Because they know they shouldn’t trust one another, they can’t talk about anything too personal at first. In their first letter, they talk about music – important songs in their lives. These three songs figure prominently.
  5. She Used to Be Mine – Sara Bareilles.  The song lyrics of this one make me think so much of Jo. She plays a role so much of the time that she sometimes gets lost. She’s sometimes nostalgic for her true self – which is one reason that she falls so hard for Jamie. He sees the real Jo right away. 
  6. Hope Is A Heartache – LEON.   So much pining in this one.  What romance reader doesn’t love pining?!
  7. cowboy like me – Taylor Swift.  It’s a love song about con artists!  Perfect!
  8. Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves.  Part of Jo’s melancholy stems from her lonely childhood. Her emotional arc in the book is for her to overcome this life hangover and grow into the adult woman she’s meant to be.
  9. Jolene – Dolly Parton.   Hmmm … you’re going to have to read the book to learn why I included this one!  😊


About the Author

There are only three things Michelle Dayton loves more than sexy and suspenseful novels: her family, the city of Chicago, and Mr. Darcy. Michelle dreams of a year of world travel — as long as the trip would include weeks and weeks of beach time. As a bourbon lover and unabashed wine snob, Michelle thinks heaven is discussing a good book over an adult beverage.

Tule Author Q&A: Nicole Flockton was inspired by an old Australian TV show!

Nicole Flockton stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in the Welcome to Bunya Junction series, Doctor in the Outback!

Black CRT TVWhere did you get the inspiration for Doctor in the Outback?

I’ve taken inspiration for this whole series from an old Australian television show I used to watch as a teenager – A Country Practice. It was a show about a country hospital and it had a town of colourful characters. I took inspiration for Waratah River Hospital – the one Scott works at – from the Wandin Valley hospital. Scott is loosely based on Dr Terence Elliot. 


How is Scott different from his siblings, Jonas and Sindy? How is he the same?

Scott tends to be a bit more serious than his siblings, although as a teenager he pushed the boundaries with Ryan. He has a caring nature which all the Carruthers’ siblings have, so it makes him the perfect doctor and the perfect person for Franceen. She needs someone who gets her.


What kind of research did you need to do for this story?

There wasn’t a lot of research necessary for this story as I didn’t get into too many medical details. 


Unrecognizable pregnant couple with sonogram images in handsWhat was your favorite scene to write and why?

One of my favourite scenes is when Scott experiences some more pregnancy symptoms that Sindy is going through. I actually have fraternal twin cousins (boy and girl) and they were both expecting a child at the same time so I used that to give Scott and Sindy a fun twin connection. Here’s a little teaser of just what Scott is going through.

Scott got back to his office and closed the door, leaning against it as another wave of pain washed over him. What the hell was going on? He hadn’t used his home gym in the last week, so he hadn’t pulled a muscle. And the pain wasn’t in the area of his kidneys so it couldn’t be a kidney stone. The pain was in his lower belly, not concentrated on the right, so not his appendix. It was concentrated around the middle of his belly.

Realisation struck him like a bolt of lightning.

“I don’t believe it. Surely it’s not possible.”

Remembering what Franceen had told him in the cafeteria, he breathed through the pain. This couldn’t be happening. Not now.

Once the pain subsided, he pulled his mobile phone from his pocket and opened up his brother-in-law’s contact details.

“Not a good time, Scott.” Ryan sounded harried.

“Let me guess, Sindy’s in labour?”

“How—oh shit, really?”

Scott chuckled, what else could he do? There was nothing he could do about it; he would just have to ride out the pains along with his twin sister.”


What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Shine a Light by Rebecca Crowley.


About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Nicole Flockton writes sexy contemporary romances, seducing you one kiss at a time as you turn the pages. Nicole likes nothing better than taking characters and creating unique situations where they fight to find their true love.

On her first school report her teacher noted “Nicole likes to tell her own stories”. It wasn’t until after the birth of her first child and after having fun on a romance community forum that she finally decided to take the plunge and write a book. Now with over 20 books published she hasn’t looked back.

Apart from writing Nicole is busy looking after her very own hero – her wonderfully supportive husband, and two fabulous kids. She also enjoys watching sports and, of course, reading.

SHINE A LIGHT: Release day blog post featuring Rebecca Crowley!

When I was growing up my parents were not big into holiday decorating, and whatever we did have had to be “tasteful.” I’m still not completely sure of the exact boundaries of tasteful, but I think it roughly translates to “uniform, minimal, and unobtrusive.” I pretty much accepted this as gospel. After all, what will the neighbors think?

Then we bought our current house in Houston, and it was the first one we’ve lived in that wasn’t behind a gate or a brick wall or otherwise structurally weird in a way that precluded decorating. My husband couldn’t wait to decorate, and neither could my eldest daughter, who was three. At first I insisted – in the name of being tasteful – on all-white lights, and not too many of them. Sure, some of our neighbors had giant inflatable Snoopy Santas and huge cardboard reindeer and all manner of over-the-top decorations (this is Texas), but we had a standard to uphold.

My husband hung the lights…and they were kind of droopy. But he’d worked so hard and was so pleased with himself, so I said nothing (I didn’t have to – the neighbor kid next door pointed out his less-than-perfect technique). Then we turned them on, and guess what? Not all white lights are the same white, especially if you accumulate them randomly in various stores!

Our decorations were relatively uniform, somewhat symmetrical, definitely unobtrusive, arguably tasteful…and super boring.

That’s when I realized that the notion of “tasteful” is really about other people, and who has time for their approval? Finding and inhabiting your own joy is so much more important, and that’s part of what inspired the story for Shine a Light. Set around Hanukkah, Jonah and Ellie are in conflict as they each try to live up to the heavy expectations they’ve loaded on to what should be a joyful, lighthearted holiday. It’s not easy, but over time they help each other loosen their grips and give themselves over to pure delight.

As for us, we went back to the store and bought rainbow lights – lots and lots of rainbow lights. So as the winter nights get longer, the front of our house will glow in all the colors of the rainbow, plus various shades of white, draped imperfectly but with love and joy. And you know what? It makes me happy every time I see it.

What’s your take on decorating for the holidays?


About the Author

Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary
romance with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City, London and Johannesburg, Rebecca currently resides in Houston.

MUST LOVE CHRISTMAS: Release day blog post featuring Kelly Hunter!


But for me this was bad writing advice.

I’d just bought and taken possession of a little cabin on the outskirts of a sweet country town. Not the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, but let’s just say it needed far more work than I thought it would. A five month wait on heating components and building materials. A twelve month wait for tradesmen.

Was it any wonder that my heroine stumbled across a God with a Hammer who was better than Thor? No story tension or conflict, mind—he simply did whatever my needy heroine told him to do at the end she got a very nice house out of it and he stayed on because he was handy to have around. My fantasy! Better than Thor.

But not a romance. At all.

So I put the story away, and fixed the cabin as best I could, and only once my real-life desire for competent tradesmen waned did I take to the story again. Because while I’m altogether on board with wrapping the end of a story up in a perfection covered bow, the journey to get to that point shouldn’t be a mellow stroll through a perfect world. If it’s too perfect, I’ll get bored writing it and you’ll fall asleep reading it and that won’t do at all.

Must Love Christmas isn’t boring anymore. It’s stuffed with hopes and dreams, and hearts that clamor for love, and a heroine taking her first wobbly steps toward confidence and self-respect. My Christmas gift to her. Merry Christmas, Madeline and Seth. Have a good one.

You can find the story here.

But if you know of any tradesmen looking for work, give me a call.


About the Author

Accidentally educated in the sciences, Kelly Hunter didn’t think to start writing romances until she was surrounded by the jungles of Malaysia for a year and didn’t have anything to read. Eventually she decided that writing romance suited her far better than throwing sterile screw-worm flies out of airplane windows, and changed careers. Kelly now lives in Australia, surrounded by lush farmland and family, 2 dogs, 3 miniature cows, a miniature pig, a 3-legged cat and a small flock of curious chickens. There are still flies, but their maggots don’t feed on flesh. Bargain. Kelly is a USA Today bestselling author, a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and loves writing to the short contemporary romance form.

YOU HAD ME AT CHOCOLATE: Release day blog post featuring Amy Andrews!

Origami anyone?

Like the first book in this chocolatey Marietta Christmas duet, there’s a little something I wrote at the beginning, an object I plucked out of the air as a quirky thing from the hero and heroines combined past, that ended up playing a much bigger role in the story.  

In the first book – All’s Fair In Love And Chocolate – it was a music box and I blogged about it here. In You Had Me At Chocolate, it’s all about paper cranes.

This is known in literary circles as motif and I’ve come to realise I do this a lot in my books without even being aware of it. The first time I ever heard the term was on a Jennifer Cruise blog. I found it an interesting concept at the time but didn’t give it a lot of thought. Except, clearly, I must have on some kind of subliminal level. For sure, I never plan to put a motif in a book but, hey presto – somehow, they just appear! 

So, what is motif you ask?

This definition comes from the New York Book editors website:“Motifs are recurring elements in a novel. Motifs can be physical objects, images, actions, sounds, symbols, or abstract ideas. The most important thing to note about motifs is that they repeat themselves throughout the story.”

Who knew I was being all literary and stuff?? 

Anyway, as you’ll see if you read You Had Me At Chocolate, paper cranes play a big role. Clementine and Jude learn how to fold them at their first ever summer camp together when they were eight. Jude doesn’t really get too involved in the whole thing but Clem becomes a bit obsessed and she’s forever folding him paper cranes both at camp and to pop in the letters she writes to him between summer camps. When they meet again after many years apart, he gives her a paper crane. His father’s bird watching hobby is about actual cranes (the whooping crane to be precise). And paper cranes become integral to the inn Jude ends up buying. 

This one little tiny throw away detail from page 1 of the book just grew and grew and grew. 

It also morphed into other forms of paper art that Clementine pursues which feature in the book. You can check out the pins on my Pinterest page here to see where I got my inspiration. You’ll also find lots of yummy chocolate treats!

I hope you enjoy reading Jude and Clementine’s journey to HEA in beautiful Marietta and spotting the references to cranes/paper cranes throughout the book.  

Question: Do you like books that have motifs in them? Or do you not really notice them as a reader? Do you have a favourite read that has an obvious motif in it? 


About the Author

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written sixty plus contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She’s sold two million books and been translated into over a dozen languages including manga.

Her books bring all the feels from sass, quirk and laughter to emotional grit to panty-melting heat. Yes, her books feature lots of sex and kissing. You probably shouldn’t try one if you think the sexy times belong behind closed doors – Amy rips the door right off the hinges.

She loves good books and great booze although she’ll take mediocre booze if there’s nothing else. She has two grown kids who have flown the coop for distant shores which is awesome because now she has a good reason to travel instead of because I want to.

At sixteen she met a guy she knew she was going to marry and she did. He’s the kind of guy who can start a fire with nothing but two stones, construct a dwelling from half a dozen tree branches and a ball of string, mend anything that’s broken with weird fixit juju and navigate home blindfolded with both arms tied behind his back but will also happily eat cornflakes for dinner when a deadline is looming. True hero material.

For many, many years she was a registered nurse. Which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she’s not afraid to use them!

She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

Tule Author Q&A: Lara Van Hulzen shares her Christmas traditions!

Lara Van Hulzen stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fourth book in the Silver Bay series, Hannah’s Hope!

Where do you get the inspiration for Hannah’s Hope?

Paul and Hannah were characters in the first Silver Bay book, Return To Silver Bay. Maggie Mitchell is the main character and Hannah is her best friend. Paul is Hannah’s high school sweetheart. Readers get a glimpse of them in Return To Silver Bay and by the time I was done writing it, I had a Christmas story in mind for Hannah and Paul.


How do you relate to Hannah, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to Paul?

I think I relate to Hannah in that she tends to be optimistic and upbeat. And the people in her life are the most important thing to her. I’m not sure I relate to Paul as much as I can see aspects of my husband in him – laid back, thoughtful, all about his family. 


What was your favorite scene to write and why?

It’s actually a short, simple scene but one that I think shows the connection between Hannah and Paul as a married couple. It was my first time writing a couple who are already married, and I loved getting to show the deep connection that comes with history and time together. There are tough times and challenges, and yet those are what can make a couple that much stronger. 


Paul smiled at her and her insides did a flip again. His brown hair was cut short in the back but was longer on top. He combed it to the right every morning and Hannah could swear not a strand moved all day. No hair products, no help. The man just had awesome hair.

He wore his work clothes, dress pants with a button-down shirt and sweater. His shirt was opened at the collar, its print showing where the cuffs were rolled up over the sweater. 

As much as the whole package together made her swoon, Paul’s smile had always been what drew her to him. So genuine and kind and full of joy. And every time he smiled, it reached his eyes, the brown depths sparkling like the bay in summer when the sunshine hit. 


She giggled. 

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Just thinking about how lucky I am.”

“Oh yeah? Lucky how?”

“Lucky I got to be the one to snag you in high school.” She lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

He laughed, the sound only adding to the flutter inside her. “Oh yeah?” The blush in his cheeks was beyond adorable. 

“I had to fight the other girls, but they didn’t stand a chance.” 

He laughed even harder at that and stood. He stepped toward her and leaned over, his hands resting on the arms of her chair. He leaned down until they were nose to nose. “There was absolutely never, ever anyone else for me but you, Hannah Wagner.”

She placed her lips on his. They’d shared countless kisses over the years. It never ceased to amaze Hannah how often it felt like their first kiss. So full of excitement and eagerness and promise. And yet with time came security and desire and every kiss, every moment, a sense of coming home.

Paul leaned in, deepening the kiss as Hannah wrapped one hand around his neck and left the other resting on his chest. His heartbeat beneath her fingers seemed to match hers in a rhythm all their own. 


Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday traditions?

Decorating the tree. My husband and I got married at Christmas and so we have ornaments that were wedding gifts, ones from our honeymoon. Wherever we have traveled over the past 28 years together, I have bought an ornament. And of course, all the ones the kids have made over the years as well. It’s a walk down memory lane for me and I love it. 


What are you currently reading?

I tend to have multiple books going at a time, but I just finished The Chocolate Cure by Roxanne Snopek and LOVED it. So full of flirty fun and great romance. 

I’m also reading a non-fiction book called Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee.


About the Author

Writing stories since she was a young girl, Lara’s dream of being a novelist became a reality with her Men of Honor Series.

An avid reader, she worked as a book reviewer for 18 years with various organizations. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Masters of Divinity in Chaplaincy.

Lara loves tea, baseball and living in San Clemente, California with her husband and two dogs.

Tule Author Q&A: Jeannie Moon based Compass Cove on her hometown!

Jeannie Moon stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fourth book in the Compass Cove series, My Christmas Wish!

Where do you get the inspiration for My Christmas Wish?

Over the past three books, the Miller family has really evolved. In All of Me Natalie blew into town telling the story of why she was fired from the art gallery. She made light of it, but you could feel the pain behind her words. I had a lot of readers ask me if I was going to tell her story, and to be honest I didn’t know how I could avoid it. She was in just a few scenes in that book, and she stole every one of them. The idea to have her matched with a British aristocrat didn’t come until later, when I started to explore her reasons for coming home. James was a delightful surprise. He was one of those characters that jumped off the page, fully formed and talking to me. It was a lot of fun to write this couple. They are polar opposites, and that’s what makes it work.


Being from Long Island yourself, what was the process like writing about the town of Compass Cove? 

It was interesting. Initially, when I started writing the first book (which became Then Came You)—before it was contracted—I had the town located in the Pacific Northwest. However, my friend and mentor, JoAnn Ross, read the first book and told me my characters were looking at the wrong ocean. “These people are New Yorkers,” she said. “Tell their stories.” That was the moment I knew I had to bring Compass Cove to Long Island. It’s been a wonderful journey getting to reacquaint myself with the place where I grew up. There’s a lot of comfort writing these stories because this is my community. It’s not perfect—there are certainly ups and downs that come with living here—but the people are what make it wonderful. The most important aspect of developing Compass Cove was populating it with people who could bring it to life…people who make Long Island special. 


If you could spend the day with Natalie or James, who would you choose and what would you do?

That’s like asking me which one of my kids is my favorite. I mean, spending the day with a charming, handsome man sounds quite appealing, but I’d want to spend the day with Natalie. She is a kindred spirit. I understand how it feels to be at the mercy of other people’s expectations, to suffer with self-doubt and anxiety, and question every single choice. But that said, Natalie is a fighter. She doesn’t give up, and she works hard for the people who matter to her. She’s smart and passionate. Her family and her friends are her heart, and I’d really love to spend the day with her. 


Grocery StoreIn your story, your hero moves to a different country to win his girlfriend back. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love? 

Hmmm. I’m not sure. My husband and I met when we were in high school, while working at the same grocery store. He was so darn cute standing there in the produce aisle making sure the lettuce was fresh, as I checked out groceries. We started dating the July before we were seniors in high school, and we’re still together 42 years later. I think that’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? He’s the sweetest man, and he’s better looking today than the day we met. 


What are you currently reading?

I am loving The Secret of Snow, by Viola Shipman.  It’s a relationship-based women’s fiction about a television meteorologist who ends up moving back to her hometown in Michigan to reset her life. The writing is gorgeous; I’m smitten.


About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Jeannie Moon has always been a romantic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. Married to her high school sweetheart, Jeannie has three kids, three lovable dogs and a mischievous cat and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.


Tule Author Q&A: Lenora Worth closely relates to her heroine!

Lenora Worth stopped by the Tule blog to discuss her new Christmas book, A Nanny for Christmas!

Where do you get the inspiration for A Nanny for Christmas?

Well, I love Christmas stories, and I had an idea of a woman who’d help raise her younger siblings being thrown into a difficult situation of having to help out a man who doesn’t know how to handle being a widower with two children.


How do you relate to Kara, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her?

I am the baby of seven, so I had lots of nieces and nephews, growing up. I had to help take care of them a lot. So I could easily understand Kara doing her duty to help her widowed father. I could also see a tad of resentment since I felt that way at times myself when I’d get saddled with the kids at family gatherings. 😊


How do you relate to Richard?

Richard and I have nothing much in common. He’s a tech giant and I am technically challenged, but I could relate to his grief and his inability to be firm with his children and one feisty chihuahua. He was in over his head on that.


Green Leafed TreesWhere and when do you get most of your writing done?

I usually get going around ten or eleven (I am not a morning person) and keep going until five or six in the evening. I take coffee breaks and eat, of course. But I stay fairly busy on writer stuff all day and I work a couple of hours here and there on weekends. I have a small office with a big window on the world. And we have a fixer-upper lake where I can get work done, unless Himself is hammering or sawing or power-washing!


Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday traditions?

I love quiet Christmases, so one tradition is being able to bake cookies and wrap gifts while I listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate or a latte.


What are you currently reading?

I’m actually reading Susan Sands’ Christmas, Alabama. It’s Southern and funny and whimsical and just a great story to get me in the mood for the holidays.


About the Author

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Honor Rolls, Lenora Worth writes romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin’s Love Inspired and sweet romance for Tule Publishing. Her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards. She also received the Romantic Times Pioneer Award for Inspirational Fiction. Lenora is a NY Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling writer and a 2019 RWA RITA® Finalist. With eighty-plus books published and over three million books in print, she enjoys adventures with her retired husband and loves reading, baking and shopping…especially shoe shopping.


TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS: Release day blog post featuring Charlee James!

Twelve Fun Facts About Twelve Dates of Christmas

  1. The idea for this book was born at Walmart. I ran into a man searching for a particular doll for Christmas, and I couldn’t let him go it alone. We braved the holiday madness and found it! That experience two years ago is the basis for how the two main characters meet. 
  2. The hero, Owen Ellis, shares a likeness to Mr. James. Shy. Super smart. Adorable introvert. 
  3. Grace McGovern is an extrovert like me. Opposites attract! I can talk, and talk, and talk…
  4. After Owen and Grace’s chance meeting at a local toy store, they grab hot cocoa together. The date turns into a whole hot chocolate tasting. I was kicking myself for weeks after writing this scene because there was not a hot chocolate in the entire state of Massachusetts that was safe from me. 
  5. One very special Christmas, my parents got my sister and I a horse. We both loved to ride, and they made some sacrifices to give us this wonderful wish. Holly was a beautiful mare that only did things on her terms. She was the boss and never let any of us forget it. My sister wanted Holly to be part of a Colonial throw-back video for a school project, but the horse was having none of it. She escaped and ran through the streets of our town until we caught up to her. I had fun developing a horse-drawn sleigh scene for this book and showing Grace’s perspective of the experience (magical) versus Owen’s (horrified.)
  6. One of the dates in this story is a glass-blowing class. This is on my bucket list! 
  7. Grace and Owen visit a European-inspired Christmas Market in the book. This scene was the most difficult to write because I kept going back to scale down all the treats the characters ate, so there would be room for actual romance. 
  8. Before the start of this series, we took a family road trip to the city of Northampton so that I could refresh my memory on all the sights, the downtown area, and the architecture. 
  9. One of Grace’s holiday traditions is caroling. I’ve only gone once when I was very young, but I remember the memory of snow-filled streets, dozens of handheld candles, and the happiness of the season. 
  10. When my parents were dating, my father told my mother that he also skied like she did,  never expecting to hit the slopes with my mom. Of course, he didn’t know what he was doing. He went straight down the hill, through the fence at the bottom, and out into the road beyond. That story was in my head while writing the tubing scene in this book. 
  11. Twelve Dates of Christmas marks my fifth book with Tule Publishing, a wonderful group of professionals who believed in my writing from the start—thank you for your mentorship! 
  12. Sending everyone lots of love this holiday season! 





About the Author

Contemporary Romance Author Charlee James was introduced to a life-long love of reading listening to her parents recite nightly stories to her and her older sister. Inspired by the incredible imaginations of authors like Bill Peet, Charlee could often be found crafting her own tales. As a teenager, she got her hands on a romance novel and was instantly hooked by the genre.

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University, her early career as a wedding planner gave her first-hand experience with couples who had gone the distance for love. Always fascinated by family dynamics, Charlee began writing heartwarming novels with happily-ever-afters.

Charlee is a New England native who lives with her husband, daughters, two rambunctious dogs, a cat, and numerous reptiles. When she’s not spending time with her tight-knit family, she enjoys curling up with a book, practicing yoga, and collecting Boston Terrier knick-knacks.

Tule Author Q&A: Kate Hewitt was inspired by a real castle!

Kate Hewitt stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the first book in the Keeping Up with the Penryns series, A Casterglass Christmas!


Muncaster Castle - Wikipedia

The Penryns are quite the family. Where do you get the inspiration for this series and the characters?

It was so much fun writing this family with all their quirks and eccentricities. I had a little inspiration from the classic book I Capture the Castle, and also from the castle Casterglass is based on, in Cumbria, Muncaster.


How do you relate to Althea, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to John?

I relate to a middle-aged woman struggling to figure out what the rest of her life is going to look like. I think everyone gets to an age where time doesn’t stretch out as endlessly as before, and it makes you think more seriously about your choices. I relate to John as someone who has been slow and steady and dependable, faithful in the little things, who is looking for more in life.


What was your favorite scene to write and why?

My favourite scene to write was probably Althea’s arrival, when she is plunged into this crazy family and their amazing castle, with all its quirks.

Here is a snippet:

“Come on,” she told her two children who were lagging behind, and she headed for the kitchen door. Its handle turned easily enough, and Althea breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped into the kitchen, the comforting rumbling of an Aga like a soundtrack to the room as well as her childhood. In the gloom lit only by the moonlight outside, filtering from behind the storm clouds, she saw everything exactly as it had always been: the battered red Aga along one wall, the rectangular table of scarred oak seating twelve taking up one end of a room the size of a basketball court, or at least half of one. Several Welsh dressers lined another wall, filled with dusty Willow Ware. On the other end of the kitchen there was a sofa and several squashy armchairs, every one of them piled with old newspapers and magazines.

“What is that smell?” Poppy exclaimed in disgust as she stepped into the kitchen behind Althea. “It’s absolutely rank.”

Althea took a sniff, and then wished she hadn’t. The usual musty, dusty smell of home had definitely been dialled up a notch or five. And knowing her family, it could be originating from anything or anywhere.

“I’m not sure,” she hedged as she put down her bag by the door. “Maybe some milk’s gone off.”

“Or a whole cow.” Poppy shuddered as she looked around the room. “This looks like something from an episode of Hoarders.”


Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday traditions?

Yes, lots, and readers might recognize them from some of my Christmas books! We have shepherd’s pie on Christmas Eve, and also read Luke 2 and sing Silent Night before hanging our stockings. On Christmas Day, we all go around one at a time and open presents, and then there’s a scramble at the end. And of course we have a Christmas roast dinner, and Christmas crackers (a particularly English tradition!) and pavlova for dessert.


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a sweeping epic set in Colonial India, called Zemindar


About the Author

Kate Hewitt wrote her first story at the age of five, simply because her older brother had written one and she thought she could do it too. That story was one sentence long—fortunately, they have become a bit more detailed as she’s grown older.

She studied drama in college and shortly after graduation moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre. This was derailed by something far better—meeting the man of her dreams who happened also to be her older brother’s childhood friend.

Ten days after their wedding they moved to England, where Kate worked a variety of different jobs—drama teacher, editorial assistant, church youth worker, secretary, and finally mother.

When her oldest daughter was one year old, she sold her first short story to a British magazine, The People’s Friend. Since then she has written many stories and serials as well as novels. In 2007 she received ‘The Call’ from Mills & Boon for her first Harlequin Presents novel, The Italian’s Chosen Wife. Since then she has written over 25 books for Harlequin, and also writes women’s fiction for Carina UK and Lion Hudson Press. She loves writing stories that both tackle tough issues and celebrate the redeeming power of love.

Besides writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and learning to knit—it’s an ongoing process and she’s made a lot of scarves.

Kate lives in a tiny village on the northwest coast of England with her husband, five young children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.