Today I’m excited to welcome Katie Oliver to the blog to talk about her upcoming release Prada and Plaid. I can’t wait to read this book! If you follow the blog you’ll remember Katie discussing the Dating Mr Darcy series before. If you haven’t read them you should!
Your Dating Mr. Darcy trilogy is about to become six books! Are the story lines all linked?
The Dating Mr Darcy series started with one book, Prada and Prejudice, about clueless but well-meaning heiress Natalie Dashwood, and her effort to save the family department store from closure. She joins forces with irascible (but gorgeous) business consultant, Rhys Gordon, and it’s definitely not a match made in heaven – at least, not at first!
As I peopled the story with Natalie’s friends and family, I realized that I liked the characters and I wanted to write more books about them. So I did. I ended up with Love and Liability and Mansfield Lark.
While the Darcy books feature many of the same characters and are loosely connected, they stand alone as well. The next three books in the series promise plenty of romance, danger, Louboutins (of course!), and comedy – and most importantly, more Rhys and Natalie.
Can you share any secrets about the next story, Prada and Plaid?
I’ll let you in on a big secret – Prada and Plaid is my favourite book thus far. I know a mom isn’t supposed to love one of her brood more than the others, but I really enjoyed writing this book. The Scottish highlands…a castle…Christmas…a family secret…the ideas and plotlines came so fast and so furiously that my fingers flew over the keyboard.
Nevertheless, it took me longer to write this book than the others. I was still working full time when I wrote it, and a lot of things happened in those nine months. But I was determined to finish it…even if it meant getting up earlier and spending every Saturday at my laptop.
I think I like Prada and Plaid so much because writing it helped keep me sane during those crazy months. I found myself caught up in my characters’ lives, sharing their heartaches and laughter and secrets. I was able to forget about all the other stuff – i.e., real life and my own problems – for a while. It’s a book I’m really proud of and one I hope everyone enjoys reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.
When you wrote the first book did you have any idea you’d eventually write six?
No! I wrote Prada and Prejudice and had no plans to write another book. I didn’t think I could come up with another idea, much less another book. But about halfway through, I thought, Holly James needs her own story. And what about Dominic, the out-of-control rock star? Why is he estranged from his father? What happened to cause their rift? And answering those questions led to the next two books.
I started Prada when my contract at work ended. I had a couple of months before the new contract started, and not much to do – so I took out a legal pad from my desk drawer (there’s nothing more enticing to a writer than a blank legal pad!) and started jotting down some ideas, and…well, that’s how it began.
Who is your favourite writer?
Oh, no question – I’ve always admired Daphne du Maurier. Every book she wrote is brilliant, each one is a perfect, flawless gem of plotting and characterization. Rebecca is a classic, and it’s probably her best-known work – made all the more compelling because the main character, Maxim de Winter’s second wife, is never named. Yet I identified with her from the first page, and rooted for her to win her husband’s love.
Her other books – Jamaica Inn, The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand to name a few – are also excellent. They’re stories I return to, again and again, like revisiting old friends.
When you write do you ‘see’ the story like a movie reel running through your mind?
You mean other people do that, too? I thought I was the only one! I definitely do visualize my stories. I picture certain actors and actresses as characters in my mind, and it’s their faces and their voices I see and hear as I write.
Do you plot or are you pantser?
Before I write, I need to know (1) what the opening scene will be, (2) what problem and conflicts the main character(s) will face, and (3) how it will end. So in that sense, I’m a plotter. (That makes me sound very Machiavellian, heh-heh-heh.)
But everything that happens in between the beginning of a story and ‘The End’ is open to possibility. So in that sense, I’m a pantser.
As long as I have a general idea of what the story’s about and where it’s going to end up, and as long as there’s plenty of strong conflict, then the rest unfolds as I write. Writing in this way really gives me the best of both worlds.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing the final Dating Mr Darcy book, Prada in New York.
Rhys and Natalie find themselves in New York as Rhys prepares to open the first American branch of Dashwood & James department store in Manhattan. Natalie wants to help, but Rhys has all the help he needs – from Darcy, his super-efficient (and sexy) new personal assistant.
Holly James comes to New York when Jamie, her fiancé, opens an American branch of his restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Holly’s less than thrilled to learn that his new sous chef, Catherine, can gut a fish in two minutes, roast a perfect leg of lamb – and she’s beautiful, to boot.
Meanwhile, Manhattan’s elusive “Top Cat” burglar is stealing priceless jewels and leaving a Top Cat chocolate bar behind as his calling card at every scene. The police have no leads and no suspects. The burglar’s thefts become personal when a portrait of Natalie’s father is stolen from their apartment. Nat is outraged, and sets out to get the painting back.
But getting to the bottom of the mystery just might land her in serious trouble…
Who is your favourite character out of your books?
Well, I must admit, I do love Rhys. He lets a few choice words fly now and then, and he’s got the devil’s own temper; but he’s also loyal, hardworking, ambitious, passionate – and Scottish. Enough said.
Where can we find you?
Where can we find your books?
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains.
Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.
So if you like a bit of comedy with your romance, please visit Katie’s website, www.katieoliver.com, and have a look.
Here’s to love and all its complications…