Chat With an Author

Chat with an Author (and giveaway): Kate Noble

I discovered Kate Noble’s books by chance – I got a batch of books sent to me by Berkley (thank you Berkley) and amongst them there was this mass market paperback called Revealed. I liked the look of it, I thought the title was intriguing and I thought the cover was pretty. I had never heard of the author before so I decided to give it a go. And holy guacamole! The book proved to be absolutely delightful; so much so it already has a safe stop on my top 10 of 2009. After I reviewed the book, I received an email from Kate Noble thanking me for my review and offering me a copy of her first book, Compromised. I have to tell you the truth, I squeeeeeed like a fangirl and said yes. That book proved to be very good as well and then it was settled: Kate Noble is an author to keep an eye on, folks!

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to read our chat with this new author who on top of being very talented, it is also funny and oh, so Very Cool – I mean, come on, she loves Harry Potter and Deadwood! (and the details of the giveaway are at the end of the post):

The Book Smugglers – Thanks for joining us for this chat, Kate!

Kate Noble: Thanks for having me! I’m so excited to be here, I discovered the Book Smugglers just this year and have been procrastinating to your reviews and Lost recaps ever since.

The Book Smugglers- Ok. Let’s get right to business, shall we?

Kate Noble: Yes, of course. None of this namby-pamby small talk for us. We are efficient, business-like individuals, who can type at the speed of sound with one hand while sipping on a crisp sauvignon blanc with the other… oh, I’m sorry, what were you saying?

The Book Smugglers: I read both of your books and what struck me the most is how they are unlike the majority of romance novels I read. The hero is not the BEST at everything nor is the heroine. Your stories so far have a degree of, and I am using this word in a VERY positive way, moderate actions and behaviour – is that intentional? Do you see yourself as someone who is writing something “different” in the genre?

Kate Noble : It was my first try; I didn’t know I broke the rules. Sorry, I’ll pay for the repairs.

Seriously, it wasn’t my intention to write something “different” within the genre. I just wrote the kind of story I like. I am aware that a huge part of the appeal of romance novels is fantasy and escapism, and a lot of authors out there play into that, having the hero be beyond what we readers meet/see everyday. Super rich, looks like Brad Pitt, dark brooding demeanour. Heroines who know kung fu and have perfect hair. And I have read and loved a lot of books like this. But at the end of the day, I had to spend a year with these characters when writing, and I wanted to them to be full, people I could have a conversation with. That meant the fantasy aspect had to fall away a little bit, because I honestly don’t know what I would say if I ever met Brad Pitt.

It was also important to me that these characters exist in the world I’ve placed them in – Regency England. Which means that moderate behaviour is necessary. Its one of the things I like best about the period. Small actions have massive resonance. Ignoring a proffered hand is akin to spitting on someone in the street. A single, spare look across the room has more meaning stuffed into it than a Charlie Kaufman film.

The Book Smugglers – speaking of being moderate – your heroes, they are both Beta heroes, the kinder, gentler kind who seem more real than the Alpha types. Why Beta heroes? Do you have a preference for those in your reading as well?

Kate Noble: Aside from personal preference (I always thought Molly Ringwald should have gotten together with Duckie, not Blane) both of my heroes are fairly beta probably because neither of my heroines are. Don’t get me wrong, both Max and Marcus can be aggressive, do-what-needs-doing men who when necessary, kick some ass, but the relationships they have with the heroines wouldn’t work if they didn’t have a little give in them. Gail and Phillippa both have a level of stubbornness and assertiveness that would make them ill suited for typical romance novel alpha males.

The Book Smugglers – Let’s talk about sex:

Kate Noble: Yes let’s! Waiter, more wine please!

The Book Smugglers: Your books also have less sex scenes than I am used to reading these days and they are more on the “warm” side of the heat scale. Are you happy with your sex scenes – do you feel any pressure to heat things up?

Kate Noble: Yeah, I write fewer sex scenes. But it’s like swearing. If you say f*@! every seventh word, it kinda loses its intensity. But when the time comes that you really really really need to swear (giving birth comes to mind) the words are gone, because you gave them away.

Case in point, I once read a romance novel (romance, not erotica – erotica’s its own thing) where the characters always had sex three times in a row. It was their shtick. This happened, oh, four times over the course of the book. So, twelve sex scenes. 20 pages per scene, that’s 240 pages of sex. 240 pages of euphemisms for penis and vagina, and only about 60 pages of character development/plot/backstory/etc. By the end of the book I was exhausted, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the story.

That said, I am very happy with my sex scenes, because they are what are right for the characters. They serve the story, the arc, not the scene. Sex is not the point of the book, sometimes it’s not even the emotional climax (insert ‘climax’ joke here) of the story. But it’s an integral part. And thankfully, my agent and editor seem to be happy too, because they have never once asked me to insert (insert ‘insert’ joke here) more hot-and-heaviness. And as for them being ‘warm’ and not explicit, that’s a stylistic choice… I try to keep my language as close to period as possible (although I know I fail abysmally at times) and most authors from the early 19th century didn’t go into the mechanics of the reverse cowgirl (except possibly Sade – I’d have to check.)

I apologize if the preceding paragraphs are disjointed – all this talk of sex got me flustered.

The Book Smugglers– One thing that I noticed that was present in both Compromise and Revealed is the commentary on High society in England circa early 19th century. How do you research for your books?

Kate Noble: Um, I read a lot?

Reading is the vast majority of my research into the time period. I have shelves and shelves of books on British nautical history, British social history, the history of the British press, the history of the British horse stable… but have you ever noticed the more things change, the more they stay the same? The conniving courts of medieval Kings become the aristocratic social hierarchy of Georgian and Regency England becomes the knickerbockers and four hundred families of Victorian New York becomes Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan being spotted at Thor and having their spats via twitter.

It’s not that difficult to imagine what it was like then because at its core it’s not that different now.

The Book Smugglers: Both your books were first released as Trade Paperback instead of mass market paperback. How did you feel about this decision? Do you see that as an attempt to market your book to a wider audience? Did you discuss this with your publisher at all?

Kate Noble: When I first signed with Berkley, the intention was to have me publish in mass market only – then a couple months later I received a call saying they wanted to try me in trade, with a mass market reprint a year later. Berkley, and a lot of other houses, were starting to dip their toes in trade publishing at the time, and thought since I’m new, and my books are a little longer-than-average-romance-length, I would be a good candidate. I was still fairly green publishing-wise, so I didn’t have a lot of experience with trade, most of what I’d buy was mass market. But I thought, what the heck, you’re only new once, when else am I going to be gutsy with my career? And trade has proved to be a growing format – heck Nora Roberts’ latest is in trade. (I see it in the store all the time, and it tempts me. But Nay! I cannot buy any more books until I read down the pile!).

So yes, I am very happy with this decision, because not only can I
spot my book from ten paces away on the shelves, but it gives the book a longer life (what with the reprint a year later) and my mom is happy because she can read the type (three words: coke bottle glasses. This is my future, people.)

The Book Smugglers– in the end of your latest book, Revealed, there is a hint of more adventures to come re the French spies in England (without spoiling too much), do you plan to pick up things were you left off?

Kate Noble Hmm. Um. I will say this: The French spies may have to go underground a little while and regroup. But – we will see Byrne Worth again.

The Book Smugglers- can you talk about how you decided to become a writer and why you write romance?

Kate Noble: I was always that kid who wanted to be told a story. This translated into a crippling addiction to books and television, but it also made me want to be involved in the storytelling. I worked in a book/movie store in high school, and entertained a fantasy of being a Disney animator for a while (though now I suppose it would be Pixar. But how cool would it be to work at Pixar? They get to decorate their offices any way they want!)

I went to school for Film. But I was sucktastic at directing, picking camera angles, holding the boom mike, etc… but I was good at writing the script. That’s when I really started playing with characters, scenarios – not even for school, just for kicks. When you block out a chapter for fun, you know you’re hooked. Its funny, most people come to movies from books, I came to books from movies.

And I write romance because… I love it. It’s what I read on rainy days, sunny days. It’s the kind of story that’s going to keep me reading late into the night.

The Book Smugglers – How was your path to publication?

Kate Noble: It was fairly out of the ordinary, from what I’m told. Although it seemed pretty normal to me. I wrote a book (what is now Compromised) and after entering chapters in RWA contests (which helped a great deal, and if nothing else, taught me how to take criticism and rejection) and revising and revising some more, I queried agents via snail mail. Twenty queries later, I got a bite from the Jane Rotrosen Agency, and they asked to see the whole book, and signed me. The fact that I got an agent off of a snail mail query is the out of the ordinary part, according to people who know more than I do. More revisions, and about nine months later, I was signed to Berkley with the estimable Cindy Hwang.

From writing the first sentence of the first book to publication was about four years.

The Book Smugglers – Are you happy with writing Historical Romance or do you have plans on diversifying?

Kate Noble: I love historical romance, and I can’t imagine a time when it won’t be a part of my life. But there are a couple stories in my head that are contemporary and sci-fi — maybe one day I’ll play around with them.

The Book Smugglers – Who are your major writing influences? Which authors do you love?

Kate Noble: Well, lets just get the Jane Austen thing out of the way, shall we? Love her, love her books, read Pride and Prejudice when I was fifteen and have been waiting for Mr. Darcy ever since. But the thing I love most about her writing is how you are immediately plopped down into the middle of her world. Every character, every nuance, every shade is real. I’m reading and enjoying a lot of Elizabeth Gaskell these days, but that’s one aspect her writing lacks.

Other influences/loves: J.K. Rowling. I will probably never write a children’s book or one about a school for wizards, but I’m in awe of her imagination. Also her powers of description are amazing. Reread the section of the first one where she describes the banquet food for the first time. I get hungry just thinking about it.

The first author I started reading religiously was Amanda Quick. When I discovered Julia Quinn I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Witty comeback heaven. And I was addicted to the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series.

And since I’m such a huge movie/TV geek, I’ll give you some screenwriters: Billy Wilder, who wrote everything from Sunset Boulevard to Sabrina to Some Like it Hot to The Apartment. He was prolific, zany, cynical, and full of heart. And David Simon. Specifically, his television series the Wire. Talk about creating and showcasing an entire world, from every angle. The good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys aren’t always bad – it’s all about the choices we are given, and the ones we make. Honorable mention goes to David Milch for the Shakespearean dialogue of Deadwood.

The Book Smugglers: If you were stranded on a desert island, what five books would you bring with you?

Kate Noble: Only five? Who’s gonna make that choice, Sophie?
Fine. Sigh.

1 & 2. Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion by Jane Austen – the first because it’s her most entertaining work, and the last because it’s her best. The agony of the what-ifs of life!
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling – my fave of the series.
4. The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook – because I’m stranded on a desert island, so no one will be bringing me margaritas.
5. I’m trying to think of something important and interesting for the last one, but truth be told, I’d probably grab whatever book is currently atop my TBR pile. You gotta leave some things up to chance, right?

The Book Smugglers – other than the sequel to Revealed, do you have anything else planned?

Kate Noble: After the sequel to Revealed, there will be the sequel to the sequel to Revealed. Then, and only then, will I be permitted to sleep.

The Book Smugglers: We Book Smugglers are faced with constant threats and criticisms from our dear significant others concerning the sheer volume of books we purchase and read—hence, we have resorted to ‘smuggling books’ home to escape scrutinizing eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?

Kate Noble: Being significant other-less, I have no one putting limitations on the number of books I can have… however, I do live in New York City, where rents are high and square footage is low, so my main constraint is just how much stuff I can fit into my place.

Now, last year was my first RWA National conference, in San Francisco. I had an incredible time, but the most exciting part for me was when I discovered the free book situation. Every house had a couple hours where their authors signed and gave away free books.

I went a little nuts.

By the time I came out of my frenzy, I had amassed somewhere in excess of 100 pounds of books. I had to have them shipped home, I couldn’t smuggle them in my luggage – not only would I have gone over weight restrictions, the zipper wouldn’t close.

When the books arrived at my apartment, I looked at the boxes and realized my TBR pile was now to the ceiling, so I did a very painful sorting, where I decided to give away about 2/3 of what I brought back (most to libraries, some to my sister). The remaining 1/3? Well, it’s been about 10 months since the conference, and I’m still nowhere near the bottom.

What am I gonna do this year?

So that’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did. A big thank to Kate Noble for agreeing to it!

Now for the giveaway:

Thanks to the generosity of Berkley and Kate Noble, we have 2 copies of Compromised and 2 copies of Revealed to give away! All you have to do it to leave a comment on this post telling me which one would you prefer. To help you choose you can read my review of Compromised here and of Revealed here. Contest runs till Sunday noon Central and is open to everyone. And to make things a bit more different this time, since I want to spread the Kate Noble love around the net: if you blog about the contest, you get another entry (just post the link to your post in the comments as well!). That’s it: good luck and we will announce the 4 winners in our Sunday Stash.

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  • Meghan
    May 22, 2009 at 3:32 am

    This interview definitely has me interested in reading one of these! Kate Noble sounds like a lot of fun and I’m a fan of character development and a little less sex in my romances. I’ll enter for Compromised. Thank you!

  • Ginger
    May 22, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Great interview! I’ve read and loved both of Ms. Noble’s books, Revealed being my favorite. I can’t wait to read the sequel and the sequel to the sequel! 🙂 The excerpt at the end of Revealed “revealed” Jane as the next heroine, but I’m anxious to find out who her hero will be.

  • Ginger
    May 22, 2009 at 4:19 am

    oops. forgot. no need to put me in contest as i already own both books. 😳

  • KristieJ
    May 22, 2009 at 4:26 am

    What a delightful interview. If her sense of humour carries through to her books, I can hardly wait to get started reading. As I already have Comprimised, I’d love a copy of Revealed 🙂

  • Rylie
    May 22, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Great interview — I’m looking forward to reading these books. I’d like to enter for Compromised.

  • Eva S
    May 22, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Thanks for the great interview! I have Compromised on my keeper shelf, I love it and I’d love to read Revealed!

  • Rosario
    May 22, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Great interview! I’d like to enter for Revealed, please (mainly because I already bought Compromised, after your review the other day *g*)

  • I Heart Book Gossip
    May 22, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Great interview. I would like to be entered for Compromised.

  • hagelrat
    May 22, 2009 at 8:27 am

    great interview.

  • Lusty Reader
    May 22, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Let’s start at the very beginning
    A very good place to start
    When you read you begin with A-B-C

    Ahem…I’d love a copy of Compromise!

  • Roberta Harwell
    May 22, 2009 at 9:50 am


    Loved the interview. I already have “Revealed” in my TBR pile. Would love a copy of “Compromised” to go with it. Thanks for the contest. Have a great day.

  • Maureen
    May 22, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I enjoyed the interview very much and am always looking for the recommendation of a new author to look for. They both look good but please enter me for a copy of Revealed.

  • blodeuedd
    May 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Loved the interview 😀
    Glad I found my way back here.
    Hm, they both sound so good, but I like the Compromised cover more 😉

  • Heather Massey
    May 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

    But there are a couple stories in my head that are contemporary and sci-fi — maybe one day I’ll play around with them.

    *rubbing hands together in delight* Look me up at The Galaxy Express when you get that sci-fi written–I assume it will include a romance?!

    In the meantime, I’ll happily settle for a copy of COMPROMISED!

  • Robyn B
    May 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Great interview.They sound both really good, but I would like to enter for a copy of Revealed. Thanks! 😀

  • AnimeJune
    May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Um, could I enter for both???? Pretty please???

    If I can’t enter both, then Compromised – just because the story appeals to me ever so slightly more than Revealed (there’s a part of me that shies away from spy Regencies after a deadly dull encounter with Jane Feather’s “Almost a Lady”).

    I’ve put myself on a no-buying-books thing in preparation for the avalanche of free reading material to be had at RWA this year, which I’m attending, but I’ve heard so many good things about your books thanks to the Smugglers!

    I, too, am a reader (and writer) who prefers subdued, realistic heroes and sex scenes that are relevant and aren’t one after the other like a Street Fighter Combo Move. As well, I have to say I usually do pick romance novels based on length – the longer a book is, the more subtle and realistic the romance always seems to me.

  • AnimeJune
    May 22, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Forgot to add this – I look forward to see you at the Literacy Book Signing at RWA!

  • Teresa W.
    May 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I have Compromised, would love to get a copy of Revealed!

  • Maija P.
    May 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    What a lovely interview. I am really interested in your books. Would love to try Compromised first!

  • Lori Patterson
    May 22, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    It sounds like I really need to try a Kate Noble book. I have been in the mood for beta heroes lately, and it sounds like Kate Noble’s books are the place to look. Thanks for the great interview and the reviews to her two books. I think I would like to be entered to win a copy of Revealed.

  • maered
    May 22, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    This was a great interview! I would love to read a romance where characterisation is the priority, not sex. 😉

    Enter me for Compromised, please!!

  • Virginia Hendricks
    May 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Put me down for compromised please!

  • Pam P
    May 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Read Compromised but haven’t had a chance to get Revealed yet, love to enter for that.

    Kate, while I like the alpha heros, there are also many beta heros who appeal to me, and they are more realistic to what one wants in real life. Also, while I don’t mind the steamier, sexier romances, I still like many that are tamer. All it takes is engaging characters to get my interest. I have to agree that too many sex scenes can take away from the romance itself, which is the main criteria for me.

  • cheryl c.
    May 22, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Great interview, and both books sound delightful! Kate Noble is a new-to-me author, so I would be happy to win EITHER book! If I have to choose, I would say “Compromised.” Thanks for the chance to win! 🙂

  • Maya M.
    May 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    The Smugglers do not steer me wrong, so when Ana said the humor quotient in these stories would be right up my alley, I had to come here today –
    and after reading every interview word and punctuation mark, I have to say, I’m getting those shivers up my spine that mean a fabulous, funny, new-to-me author is just one bookstore trip away….

    This is both ecstatically wonderful (the anticipation!) and horribly depressing (the groaning comparisons to own writing the aspiring comedy writer will likely make!) yet I choose to torture myself.

    Liked the Sophie’s Choice reference (adored that movie despite high tissue costs), LOVED hearing about another Amelia Peabody fan! Sidebar: I beg (srsly) any fan of that series to look into Lindsey Davis’ ‘Falco’ series of a first-person sleuth in imperial Rome. Similar to ‘Amelia’, excellently researched and extremely funny.

    I think I’ve used up enough post real estate, not to mention indulged in adjectives, for today. 😀

  • Maya M.
    May 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    OK, I lied about using up enough real estate.
    Back to say – without any disrespect to more ‘typical’ kinds of books in the genre (if there is such a thing) – it is such a relief to hear about heros not being the best at everything and the love scenes not given heavy screen time. Heros who are better than everyone, all the time just kick me out of the story. And I don’t have any objection in principle to love scenes, my attention just tends to wander until the rest of the story starts up again….

  • Jacqueline
    May 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Hee! Great chat! Beta heroes and relevant sex scenes? *adds both books to TBR list* Throw my name into the hat for Revealed, please and thank you!

  • Bridget Locke
    May 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I admit I haven’t read either book, but after reading the reviews, will definitely be looking them up. 🙂 I love coming across new-to-me authors and I trust the Smugglers. 😀

  • Kelley
    May 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I love hearing about and finding new authors! Both books sound really interesting, but I think I would prefer Revealed if I get lucky.

  • Peta
    May 23, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Sounds fabulous! Please enter me for a copy of Compromised as I can’t bear to start a series without knowing that I can read them all! A little OCD I know..:)

  • KMont
    May 23, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Holy crap – kidlet is momentarily distracted. I gotta be quick! I haven’t read either book, but I suppose I would take Revealed. Really, though, either would make me grateful.

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the interview yet, ladies, but I like what I’ve read so far. 🙂

    Hmmmm, now kidlet’s quiet. This means trouble. *dash*

  • Bridget3420
    May 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Revealed would be my pick 😀

  • Bridget3420
    May 23, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I posted this on my sidebar here.

  • Bridget3420
    May 23, 2009 at 9:38 am

  • Belinda M
    May 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    I have not read either book but both sound like real page turners. These would make for perfect Summer reading

  • Anita Yancey
    May 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I would love to win a copy of Revealed, even though they both look like really great books. Thanks for having this giveaway.

  • Collette
    May 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I’d love to win a copy of Revealed, having already read compromised and adored it. The interaction between Gail and Max was really wonderful.

  • Kate
    May 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Great interview! Thanks so much to the Smugglers and Kate Noble…and for asking about the trade paper format! I’ve been curious about it, and also so grateful since I really think the longer length allowed in trade went a long way into developing the characters into people I truly cared about. Oh, and the great writing as well 😀 Seriously, I get really annoyed at the glut of romances that focus on the physicality and perfection of characters that it was so refreshing to read characters that develop and grow…and are interesting and hilarious. I really think that Gail’s hangover scene in Compromised was fantastic and gloriously/hideously (in a good way!) written.

    Don’t enter me…I now have both. Thanks again!

  • willaful
    May 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Like others, I am very attracted by the sound of less-than-perfect characters. I’ll try for Compromised, because I also have a slight allergy to Regency spy plots. (Though can overlook it for a good author.)

  • jennygirl
    May 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I know the contest is over, but I just wanted to say what a fantastic interview! I am putting her boks on my list. Thanks for introducing me to a new author.

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