Introduce yourself, please, Kate. Is this a pen or personal name? Why did you make the choice to write under that name?
Kate Fellowes is a pen name I’ve adopted fairly recently. My real name, Jill Giencke, has always been difficult for people to spell or pronounce, for some reason. Even friends I’ve known for ages and ages forget about that “c”! One day on a walk, I brainstormed some pen names and came up with about a dozen possibilities. I typed them all, to see how they’d look in print and kept coming back to the same one, this one. I showed the list of names to my niece, Pamela, and asked her which one she liked. (Of course I didn’t tell her which one I was leaning towards!) Wouldn’t you know, she picked the same one and Kate Fellowes was born.
2. Let’s get the details out of the way: Single, married, divorced, widowed?
Happily married for nearly twenty five years. We don’t have any children. Our family has always consisted of companion animals, right now a dog and a couple of cats.
We live near Milwaukee, a few blocks from Lake Michigan.
Doing what, other than writing?
I work in a public library. That’s where I met my husband, in fact.
One—just one—physical characteristic:
I’ve worn glasses since the 2nd grade.
3. What’s your secret passion?
Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! I’ll tell you what I love–animals, reading, old movies and all things British.
4. Tell us one thing about yourself you’d never change.
I’m a sentimental sort and memories–from the past or the ones we are creating now–are really important to me.
5. If you didn’t live where you do, where would you live? Why?
In my dream life, we’d live in a bucolic English village. In my real life, I think I could be happy anywhere there’s a change of seasons.
6. Do you write about where you live or where you’d like to live?
I’ve frequently used familiar territory as a setting, but my new book, Thunder in the Night, takes place largely in Belize, somewhere I’ve never been, but would love to visit.
7. What’s the first creative writing you remember doing outside a class?
Mom used to say when my siblings and I were little, they’d be sprawled on the living room rug coloring and I’d be on the sofa, writing a story, so I guess I’ve always been at it. I published my first poem when I was in the seventh grade and became a professional–the local paper paid me $5.00.
8. Why do you write romance novels?
I mix suspense with my romance, combining one mystery with the other–the mystery of love. Romances push so many buttons–there’s the thrill of attraction, the wonder of discovery and the joy of a happy ending–this writer’s dream!
9. What else do you write?
I write essays and have published them in a half a dozen different places, including Chicken Soup for the Soul : Here Comes the Bride, just released in May, 2012. I also write short stories–both mysteries and romances. I’ve published those a few places, too. Most recently in Woman’s World Magazine in April, 2012. I’ll have a short story in a Sisters in Crime anthology soon, too.
10. What one thing from your book did you take from personal experience?
I’ve walked through zoos that were really depressing. Where the animals had inadequate space and unnatural conditions. Like Allison, I’ve put my hand on the glass between us and thought how alike we are. Then, like Edward VIII, I’ve thought, “Something must be done!” In Thunder in the Night, Mart is a real hero–he’s planning to do it!
11. What did you cut from your book that felt like severing a body part?
I cut out the character of Allison’s ex-husband. He added a lot in the way of backstory and was an additional complication to Allison’s current situation, too. But word count requirements meant there was no room for him, so off he went!
12. Do you identify closely with one particular character? How?
I like to think I share Allison’s curiosity and enthusiasm. And Mart’s sense of purpose, too.
13. The best part about my writing life is:
Creating something from nothing. Getting an idea, shaping it into a story, creating people as real as me and you. When I sit down to write, I always have a sense of anticipation and excitement because I know when I’m done for the day my empty page will be filled by people, places and events that didn’t exist a few hours earlier.
14. The worst part about my writing life is:
Having to squeeze it in at the end of the day.
15. Give us a hint about what the next book’s like.
I’m half through with a mystery and hope to have that complete and polished by the end of the year. Then, I’ll begin a romance based on an idea that popped into my head fully formed not long ago. Being so different from one another, both projects are exciting to me. That’s the joy of writing for me—well, one of them, anyway. The choices, the variety, and the challenge of something new. Watch this space!