the author      interview      the novels      excerpt

 

 

the author

"People who know me would say that my life goes on two parallel tracks, the one that I follow with my feet, firmly on the ground, and the one that I  follow with my mind, a few thousand feet higher, with some occasional exchange as to be  able to descend from the clouds and get in touch with reality.
Reading and writing are so much a part of my life that I would not live without.  Reading feeds my creativity, awakens my imagination, nourishes it, writing allows me to project my fantasy world on a real support, to give life to it, to transform it into emotions, and what is more important, to make it shareble with the others. "

Kathleen McGregor

 

 

interview

From the Spanish site El Rincón de la Novela Romántica, Spanish author Nieves Hidalgo interviews Kathleen McGregor

Kathleen, first of all, we want to thank you for this interview. We would like Spanish readers know your work. We have visited your website and we think it is really interesting. How is your Daily Writing Schedule?

Thank to you Nieves, and thank to the Rincon de la Novela Romantica for welcoming me in their wonderful and so well-informed website, and for gifting me with this opportunity to meet Spanish readers.
I will just start saying I am not a very disciplined writer, quite the contrary in fact. I am an artist at soul, I am unpredictable both in mood and concentration, my mind never stops elaborating and it doesn't always focus on what I am writing at that moment. That is why I can't say I have a Daily Writing Schedule.
Some days I sit writing at my computer since when I get up till when I go to bed at night, sometimes I don't even stop to eat (apart from junk food and the many sweets scattered all over my desk!), whereas some other days I must take very frequent breaks... and the unbelievable thing is that the first ones are not always the most productive at all.

What can you tell us about your beginnings as a writer?

I have been writing since I was very young, but I only understood I wanted to be a writer much later in my life. Firstly for me, so as to make sense of all that bunch of creativity and passion for adventure that had always characterized my nature, later for the others too, because sharing is for me the true essence of happiness. I live my writing as an emotional experience, and there's nothing better for me than sharing what I feel when I write.
"Corinna" was my first work as an adult, and it was a true challenge, because of both its complex plot and the many characters to manage, as well as the huge historical research it required.
Once finished, it made a rounds of many publishing houses before landing at my publisher, a long wandering full of illusions and disappointments, as it is for any beginners, but always heartened by the appraisals of people who read it, and just this was a remarkable thing considering it was a tome of more than 700 pages.
One thing I have learnt in my career as a writer, even if short, is that you must never give up trying and believing in yourself, because one day, when you are not expecting it at all, your dreams could come true. It is what happened to me, when "Corinna" was published and got an unexpected success among readers.

I have seen that you have lot of novels with much adventure. A series of pirates which started with Corinne’s story and which has four parts. Spanish readers love these kinds of stories. ¿Why did you decide to write about pirates?

I grew up cultivating a passion for adventure, and the world of piracy have always been a great part of it, so that, when I had the idea for "Corinna", it was natural for me to make my hero a corsair. Besides, I always found romance novels about pirates too fictionalized, too far from reality for me to really like them.
The Buccaneers world is unquestionably fascinating, but it was very different from how it is usually portrayed in romance novels, it was violent and cruel, the men who joined it were former slaves, criminals, mercenaries, thieves, assassins and at the best of circumstances they dedicated themselves to robberies and raids along the coasts. Pirates and Corsairs are figures that stir fantasy, but if fictional heroes as a general rule must be positive characters conveying certain kinds of values, in reality this happened quite rarely.
Managing to create a believable love story set in such a background, making it as much realistic as possible, it is very difficult, so I decided I would have tried to do it myself.

The Brotherhood of the Coast, to which the characters of my books belong, was purely male with very few exceptions, and it was not rare that its members established some kind of balance among themselves, or developed friendships and comradeship.
Unlike what happened in the Military Navy, where the commander of the ship was empowered by the military authorities and every member of the crew must obey his orders, on a pirate ship things were different. The captain was chosen by the crew but even if he had the power of life or death on them, in order to maintain it he had to continuously prove to merit it.
A friendship like the one Dorian, Walter and John share seemed to me something that could really happen in this kind of background. I didn't foresee that each of them would have had his own book, but when I finished "Corinna" I did love these characters so much that I couldn't stand the idea of leaving them, besides, I left some secondary stories pending and I thought it was right to take them to an end. This is how the Saga Corsari was born.

Is it easy or difficult to research for your novels?

Collecting information about the Brotherhood of the Coast and Buccaneers society, about 17th century ships and sailing, about the feats of the most famous corsairs, like Henry Morgan who plays an important role in "Corinna", was itself a sort of wonderful adventure, and I can't count the hours and the days I spent in researching. The most difficult part was to find the sources I needed, especially in order to learn how the ships were built, what were the differences between galleons, frigates and corsair ships. The most important and useful sources were books and any kind of historical publications, like for example the "History of the Buccaneers of America" by Alexander Oexmelin, first published in 1678.
Furthermore, the Internet is a very helpful tool, especially to writers like me who love exotic settings, because it allows you to enter worlds that otherwise would be geographically unreachable.
The work of researching for me is as important as the plotting of the story and the study of the characters, and it is fundamental in order to succeed in re-creating a whole world and making it as more realistic as possible, because a solid historical background gives to the novel an equally solid truthfulness, even when the story is a fictional one.

Tell us something about your male characters. ¿What kind of man will we find in your novels?

Every character is a man of his time, and if that time consists in a reality like that one of Buccaneers, one of violence and cruelty, we must have the courage to give the readers at least a semblance of how it was, in order to make that character a believable one from the historical point of view.
Obviously, such an environment could not help but affect my characters' temperament, for this reason it was a matter of finding a balance between violence and code of honor.
Pirates and Corsairs, during the golden age of filibusters and buccaneers, but also in the following centuries, were driven by the desire to plunder and raise money from anything they could put their hands on. The difference between them is that the last ones put their ships and their great experience and knowledge of the colonies at Governments' service and plundered with their authorization, through the well known letters of marque.
As I said before, corsairs in the collective imagination rarely correspond to the real ones, but this is inevitable.
At that time, a lot of men, mostly slaves, indentured servants to plantations, outlaws, ran away to find in the buccaneers ranks a life they could live as free men and that could give them the chance to reach success as individuals, since what really counted there was the man and not his title, or his birthright, as in the normal society.
The concept of romantic hero in piracy novels, at least as regards my idea of romantic hero, is connected precisely with the one representing the quest for freedom. He's a man who proves to be able to survive a reality of this kind, to stand out, to make a name for himself, to totally control his life, but at the same time he keeps alive certain values at a personal level, a sense of honor that makes him to distinguish himself from the mob.
These are the men you will find in my novels.

I've always thought that the best heroes are those who have a dark side, as in the best paintings, where the darkest shadow brings out the lightest glimmer, even in these characters it is their dark side that enhance their positive side.
Obviously in a novel telling a love story too, love becomes crucially important in the hero's psychological evolution, it represents his salvation, the reason for which to fight his battles, and also at times the reason to give them up.

All your heroines are as brave as Corinne McPherson? How would you describe your female characters?

My heroines are all very different from one another, but yes, I believe it's indeed their courage they have in common, although each one of them lives it and proves it in a different way.
Corinna, Glen, Alma... As for real people, what they are at the moment in which my novels portray them, is the result of their lives, of the way they were raised, of the values they have been taught, of the experiences they made, and every action or word of theirs are expressions of what they are.
Corinna was raised as a boy and was taught how to fight and use weapons, Glen grew up in a very protective environment, Alma had a very lonely childhood poor of affection... these are very different circumstances that can model, repress or emphasize the nature of a person, just as happens to each of them.

Is it difficult for you to write sex scenes?

Sex scenes are always very difficult, because they involve the most intimate spheres of my characters, not just as physical intercourse, but also and especially as emotions, thoughts, feelings. And come into play also the whole series of factors I mentioned earlier, namely their nature and their life background, which make the sexual experience inevitably different for each one of them. In my opinion, having the ability to represent the sensuality, the rapture, the passion both physical and emotional, succeeding in involving the readers is a great merit for an author, and I hope I did a good job of it :)

Why do you think Spanish readers would like your novels? What do you offer in them?

I've always thought of Spanish people as a passionate one, and I've always felt very close to them and fascinated by Spain, by its history and culture, I love flamenco and the beautiful horses of Andalusia, and I like the sound of your language, maybe because my grandmother was of Spanish origins, and I believe I inherited a drop or two of Spanish blood myself.
My novels are set in a time when Spain and England were disputing control of the Caribbean sea, many of my characters are Spanish and the plot move between the New World’s colonies, England and Spain. Two of my beloved heroines are Spanish, Alma, the main character of "L'Irlandese", and Soledad, the heroine of the novel I'm writing at the moment.
In my books you can find history, adventure, action, passion, danger, but although they all share the same setting and are strictly connected, they are also different from one another.
In the first one, "Corinna", the plot is strongly adventurous and entirely settled in the filibusters and buccaneers world, the second one, "Cuore Pirata", is characterized by a hectic pace, a treasure hunt that involves a multitude of characters, the third one, "L'Irlandese", is the final novel of redemption and the story of an unlikely love that can overcome any adversity.

Have you ever thought about basing one of your novels on the Italian History?

Actually I've been thinking about it for sometimes. I had an idea for a novel set somewhere in Italy in medieval era, at the times of crusades, but I haven't yet it fixed. Sooner or later I suppose I will work on it, when I have finished my current projects.

What do you think about the covers of romantic novels that have, in most of the cases, a couple… almost naked? Do you think this kind of erotism makes people want to buy them? Would they have to be less aggressive?

I said I am an artist and it's true, before starting to write I loved to paint, and from an artistic point of view, I truly appreciate the quality of the paintings and pictures that are used as romance covers. I can't help to admire the skill of the artists that in most cases succeed in conveying the intensity of a particular moment.
As a writer, however, I find that this kind of cover is actually very restrictive for the genre, it tends to level very different novels, both in contents and writing, and not always is a good thing.
Can they make people want to buy? In the past probably yes, and probably it continues to do it in some extent, but tastes are changing and the publishers, at least some of them, are starting to adjust offering different covers.
Unfortunately this type of cover has become a sort of brand for this genre, with all its good and bad implications, and most of the publishers, including Italian publishers of romance novels, are reluctant to change policy.
As regards me, I would gladly purchase from an artist like Jon Paul or Lynn Sanders for example, a painting representing the main characters of my stories, because their works are really able to make people daydream, but on my books I would like covers that were more representative of their contents and did not emphasize only the romantic side, which is actually only one of the elements.

Does your publishing house let you choose the covers of your books or do they give you them already made?

My novels' covers, even if don't satisfy me, altogether don't even upset me, actually they could be a lot worse, considering the current trend in Italy.
The covers of "Corinna" and "Cuore Pirata" were chosen by the publisher. When "Corinna" was released I remember I was so worried about finding on the cover an almost naked woman throwing herself at the man's feet... a picture totally in contrast to my character, but I must say that the publisher heard my prayers giving me a beautiful strong-willed male-dressed heroine.
For the cover of "L'Irlandese" the publisher kept the picture that I found in the Internet and that I enclosed in the manuscript. It was a work by Judy York and it was very representative, it seemed made just for my story. Apart from the costume that was not historically correct, it very accurately portrayed Alma and Juan, showing also at the far ends a glimpse of Ireland and a ship on the sea, symbols of Juan's two lives.
For the future I hope to be involved in the choice of my novels' covers, it's always unpleasant for an author to see on her work a picture that doesn't represent it the way it should.

How do you see the world of romantic novels at an international level? Do you think it is a despised sort or that it is consider a second class sort?

The market attests that the romance genre, in its many variety, is the genre that sells more, but generally this success is not reflected in its qualitative assessment. It is essentially regarded as a commercial genre, but from the literary point of view continues to be discriminated.
As well as any other genres, romance has its own literary dignity, and it should be recognized without reservations. The public, and especially the publishers, should start to honestly appreciate it, judging the works according to their intrinsic quality and not just as romance novels. Unfortunately in Italy this is still very hard. Only now the publishers are starting to show a slight interest in the genre, especially after the discovery of paranormal and urban fantasy, thanks to the worldwide success of Twilight.
For an author of historical romance, in Italy is still very difficult to succeed in being not only published but represented by literary agents too.

Apart from the Pirate books, what else are you working in?

The novel I am writing right now will be the last one in the Saga Corsari, at least for a long period of time. Since I love exploring new ways and face new challenges, I decided to devote myself to a completely different project, a trilogy of novels with a contemporary and futuristic setting and strong elements of paranormal and urban fantasy. The first novel, titled “Phoenix”, is already finished, it is set mostly in Alaska, a land that conquered me literally.
I spent six months in collecting information and doing historical researches, because even if the setting is contemporary, the story is deep-rooted in ancient times and it involves religions, myths and legends.
The following novels are already outlined, they are just waiting for me to write them.
Unlike many colleagues in fact, I can't work at such different projects at the same time, the care I take in every details, the need to feel totally immersed in the world I am creating, don't allow me to divide my attention on other projects.
That is also why for many years I had an unfinished project that I started but then had to postpone because of other priorities. It is a novel set in ancient Britain in which I truly believe, despite having abandoned it over and over again. Certainly it is one of my future projects.

We hope we soon have your novels in Spain. Adventures and battles are a mixture we really love. We wish you – and ourselves too- luck, in order to enjoy them as soon as possible, and we want to thank you, Kathleen for sharing your time with us.
It has been a pleasure to talk with you and we really hope the next time we interview you, it will be because we have one of your novels in our country.


Thank to you for having me as a guest and for giving me the chance to meet your readers. I hope that in a not too far future, Spanish readers will get the chance to know me through my books too.
It was a pleasure and a honor to be interviewed by Nieves Hidalgo, and I would like to take the opportunity to wish to the Rincon Romantico happy anniversary.
Maybe romance literature is still not fairly valued, but certainly it has the affection and devotion of its readers, who are so many, and this is the most important thing.

 

the novels

The Corsairs Saga is composed of a novella (prequel) and four novels - three of them already published and the fourth in progress - which are set in a period ranging from 1664 to 1674, each one of them is dedicated to a main character: Corinna McPherson , Dorian O'Rourke, Walter Avery, Juan Corraya and John McFee.
All the novels are publish only in italian.

The story dedicated to Corinna McPherson, was the initial part of the original novel, "Corinna", written in the late '90s, and cut by the publisher due to editorial reasons. It's in digital format and can be read for free at this link

 

Corinna
published by Mondolibri 2001

Seventeenth century. In tropical stormy seas, pirates and privateers contend loot and hostages in fierce attacks with cold steel to any vessel has the misfortune to cross their path. No exception on the ship  which embarked Corinna, whose rare beauty makes it a sought prize. But, though inexperienced, she is not defenseless, and escapes rape with a strong stab. Recaptured, whipped, humiliated, she is thrown into a sordid dungeon. She is now resigned to a cruel fate, when a stroke of luck changes the course of fate:  during a raid into the prison, the infamous pirate Dorian O'Rourke finds her and takes her with him. And that is where we see of what temper are red-head women made. At first alongside with the facinating pirate, whom she fell in love with, then in command of a ship of her own, Corinna turns into a real Lady of the seas, a captain feared and respected by every crew, friend or enemy.
Between storms , boarding, and a thousand misfortunes we follow the romance and adventure of an unconventional heroine, a woman bold and resolute, unprejudiced, sensual and ready to fight to the last drop of blood for the sake of freedom and for the man who won every beat of her brave heart.

New edition published by Leggereditore 2011

Corinna, Queen of the Seas
isbn : 978-88-6508-078-8
cartonato con sovracopertina, 832 pagine
formato ebook: EPUB con social DRM, 0,77 MB

available on:

 

Pirate Heart
published by Mondolibri 2004

Pirates, criminals, treasure hunters, a former pirate and a girl in search of her true identity, wheel about the mystery of the lost city of Manoa, the Eldorado, which was so much sought and cherished.
At the death of her father, Glen discovers some letters and a map without names, but there are others who want that map, and especially want the hidden information to complete it.
Walter Avery, now Duke of Averstone, agrees to protect Glen and discover what lies behind this map; the reasons are many, the boredom of city life, the longing for his previous life as a filibuster, the taste of the adventure, the prospect of finding a treasure ... but above all the love he feels from the first moment for that tall girl, apparently obedient yet inwardly rebel, who rejects him with the full force of her vulnerability.

 

 

The Irish
published by Harlequin Mondadori 2007

There are many shadows in Juan Corraya's life, governor of Portobello: an unspeakable secret, a remorse that tortures him endlessly, and a debt he can never repay.
Called  the Red Spanish for the unusual color of his hair, he is one of the most powerful and much-talked about men, famous for his deeds of prowess, his hatred against pirates and his heart of stone, that no woman has ever won.
When he arrives at young Alma De Castillo's home, to claim her as his wife, the girl falls into despair. How can she marry this stranger when her heart beats only for Quintano, the man to whom she was promised by her father before leaving for the jungle, and whose return she is eagerly awaiting? And what about the child she is carrying in her womb, the result of a single stolen night of love ?

A romantic story of love and adventure, a feeling born in the strangest way but able to overcome even the darkest of  threats.

 

The Spanish Bride
 

in process

The spanish bride  (prov. title)
Corsair Saga # 4

setting  :  Caribbean 1671

The fourth novel in the saga dedicated to John McFee, the steel-eyed mestizo who remained in command of the black ship after O'Rourke and Avery returned to England

 

excerpt
from the novel "The Irish"

This excerpt is copyrighted by Kathleen McGregor, it can be copied on other forums or websites only with the explicit permission by the author, and must expressly show the author's name and the website of origin, by using this disclaimer:

"This excerpt is copyrighted  and it's part of the novel "L'Irlandese" by Kathleen McGregor (2007, italian edition Harlequin). It is hereby published with the author's explicit permission.
Origin: www.kathleenmcgregor.com/englishreaders.htm"


 

from "L'Irlandese" (The Irish)

 

Cadiz, Spain – Septenber 17th 1668

Juan coughed convulsively, struggling to breathe. The crackling of the flames rose around him with a deafening roar, filling his mind, dulling his reactions and reason. He had a vague memory of being wounded but his senses were concentrating on the heat which was enveloping him, concentrating on the heavy eyelids which felt scorched and his eyes full of smoke which he couldn't keep open.

If he couldn't find an exit route quickly, he would be dead underneath the masonry of his own home; but he felt himself incapable of moving. He felt heavy, too weak to leave this corner where he had been dragged a moment before Dorian's revenge was fulfilled by putting an end to his wretched life…
He had waited for it with resigned acceptance; notwithstanding an instinctive desire to live, he had been ready to die in order to make amends for his own faults. The mad look of despair and rage was the last thing he had seen of his brother before the pistol had fired and everything had descended into a deeper darkness. Subconsciously, he was comforted by the fact that he had chosen to kill him quickly after having spent every last ounce of energy in destroying everything.

He coughed again and the searing pain in his lungs succeeded in shaking him from the torpor into which he was falling.

You will not die yet.

They were the brief words whispered by the one who had pushed him in the moment the shot was fired, making him fall heavily to the ground wounded rather than dead and who had then seized him by the coat and moved him further away, flung against that wall, on the ground, knowing he could do nothing else to save him.

You will not die yet.

No.... - he said, exhausted - .... I will not die. - With a tremendous effort, he put his weight on his arms to push himself up.
The pain shot through him from head to toe, tearing from him a hoarse groan.
A crash made him start, the fire roared, flickered like a wild beast loosed from hell. The boiling air was black , by the smoke, full of dust and burning debri that danced above the rage of the flames.
Juan pushed himself across the red hot floor, the image of his brother impressed on his mind, indelible as the fire in his eyes, as painful as the anguish that he carried within himself.
Dorian had left, persuaded by his companions to have killed him…
He clenched his teeth. His eyes filled again with tears.
What had he done? He collapsed, prostrate, shaking with sobs. How was he going to reach the door? Save himself, live with the weight of the guilt that was bearing down on his heart?
Above him, the ceiling was crumbling away.
He lifted his clouded gaze hearing the masonry fall ruinously.
He would be killed if he didn't get up straight away and didn't reach that door, he would have brought to its conclusion Dorian's making. For as much as he believed he merited such an end, something in his soul rose up, those words spoken like a judgement opened a breach in his mind, growing painfully until he accepted them and their own meaning. He had no other option than to forge ahead with this mediocre life of his which thrived on lies and hatred.

The past now was gone forever, Ireland and the youth he had been were dead, killed by that bullet which was burning in his flesh. He felt a consuming need to go back in time while with an effort he crossed the threshold of the library. In the huge entrance hall, the fire was devouring the stairway, pieces of plaster were coming away from the ceiling and the walls while living flames attacked the paintings, the furniture, the carpets regurgitating pitch black smoke. The lifeless body of Jorge and Captain Cristobal were lying murdered at the foot of the stairs. He turned around with a grimace of disgust for himself: it was he who had caused this devastation and these deaths.
He asked himself if ever in the future he would be forgiven for all of this but nevertheless, he wasn't looking to fool himself. From the main door which they had left ajar in their going, came a breath of cold air. Juan felt his senses sharpen towards it, in the desperate need to give comfort to his congested lungs.

He threw himself against the door, used the weight of his body to throw it open, and fell in front of it, breathing labouredly to resist the impulse to retch. Sliding down the steps coughing, he seeked salvation on the icy stone pavement of the street covered with the first film of rain and he collapsed, exhausted, his ears full of the resounding roaring of the fire, deaf to the muffled noises of the outside world.

He felt somebody get him up and drag him away. He noticed people who were gathered in the street, was aware of the shouts of alarm, someone was asking him how he was but Juan couldn't speak, a pang of pain went through him from part to part when something was placed on the wound and without realising it he plunged into the limbo of unconsciousness, accompanied by the image of the cloudy sky above him invaded by inky black clouds and red tongues of fire.

 

excerpt translation by Serena Culfeather


 

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