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RDN Interviews Cathy Maxwell

Cathy was born and raised in Kansas and believes she is as stubborn, independent and loyal as her fellow Kansans. She began writing historical romances during the 28 years he lived in Virginia; the place she calls “her spiritual home.” More recently Cathy moved to Austin, Texas to be near family. She adores the music scene, but most of all she has the chance to rise her horses every day! For Cathy life is a goof. She has her family, two dogs and a host of friends to keep her busy; as well as her writing. Her readers know they can expect the unexpected from Cathy and that she’ll always weave that unique Maxwell humor into every book she creates.

RDN: When did you realize you were a “writer”?

CM: I always knew I was a storyteller. The question was, did my stories have enough merit that someone else would want to read them AND did I have the discipline to write them? The latter question is often more important than the first. No one is born a “writer.” It is a learned skill. But to be a storyteller? Yes, that is a gift!

RDN: What inspires you?

CM: My family, art, music, poetry, random conversations I hear in passing that make me wonder “what if?”

RDN: Do you have a set time or special place you write?

CM: No, I’m fairly promiscuous about that whole endeavor. I write when I must because the first draft is painful. I write where I have space or an inclination. I do have a home office and I do like to write in silence.

RDN: You’ve written 36 historical romances, many set in the in the Regency Period. What is the appeal of historical romance s for you?

CM: The appeal of ANY romance for me is the emotion. I like the veneer of history because it allows me to talk about many issues that are of concern today without it seeming so immediate. Plus the societal caste system of the Regency can often times serve as an antagonist. We all must learn to come into our own, that there are rules meant to be bucked . . . but setting a book against a historical backdrop can give added weight to those actions. Then, as is so often the case, fiction helps us to sort out and review our own attitudes.

RDN: Why is the Regency such a favorite setting?

CM: Because it is the beginning of the modern age. Many of the concepts we accept as truth today have their roots in the Regency such as education for women, the rise of the middle class, the equality of man, etc. And then there are the delicious things like fabulous horses, lovely gowns, and men in tall boots.

RDN: Tell us about The Duke That I Marry, the conclusions to the Spinster Heiresses.

CM: I wanted to jilt a duke, and a good-looking one at that. In the Spinster Heiresses series, I’ve been playing with three young women who demand more from themselves. Yes, they have played to the expectations of society and their families, but at some point, they realize that isn’t enough—and isn’t that true of all of us? We each reach a moment when, in order to be the fabulous people we were meant to be, we realize we have to demand more of life. Even the duke has his moment of recognition, when he understands it isn’t his title that will win the lady’s heart, but the person he makes of himself. Besides, lovely Willa isn’t interesting to him until the moment when she calls things off, and that is when the fun begins.

RDN: You’ve had some amazing and unique covers? Do you have any input into the cover art?

CM: I have some input. However, I am working with the best Art Department in publishing. I try to give them ideas that will tickle their fancy, but they take it from there. By the way, look at all of the Avon Books covers. They are ALL excellent.

RDN: Romance is very empowering for readers. Your heroines are women who appeal to today’s readers. Do you strive to write strong women into your novels or does this just happen?

CM: I see no reason to write about weak people. An insecure person will never be happy. An angry one will never trust. I don’t want to write about people who are cowed by life. I firmly believe that to live successfully, I must be willing to face any of the challenges that come my way. Of course, my characters reflect my worldview. “Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health?” That isn’t a vow for wusses.

RDN: Do you have a favorite heroine of your creation?

CM: Phadra Abbott in Treasured Vows. Lovely Phadra with her scarves and toe rings. What a delight! They are reissuing the book in August of 2019.

RDN: How do you bring contemporary issues into the plotline of your novel?

CM: I don’t. I focus on what was happening at the time and the truth is, human nature hasn’t changed much. There will always be jealousy and greed. There will be difficult decisions to be made where there are no winning solutions. And Love will always matter—because how well we love and how well we are loved in return are the only true measures of a well-lived life.

RDN: How do you think the #MeToo movement will affect historical romances?

CM: Consent has been an issue for the last 30 years. Being considerate and kind with your partner has always been a part of “romance” relationships. That being said, fiction is about what “some folks will up and do.” Yes, we have to push boundaries to teach lessons and have reactions. Characters only grow and change through being challenged.

RDN: What message do you want readers to take away from you books?

CM: To never give up on life because out of our worst fears and doubts comes the very best solutions. There is also my belief as stated above about a well-lived life.

RDN: What are you reading now?

CM: I just finished Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I’m suffering from a book hangover. I did not want the book to end, but it when it did, the ending was perfect!

RDN: To use a New York Times Book Review question – if you were hosting a literary party who would you invite; living or dead?

CM: Maggie Osborne, Nora Roberts, Pat Gaffney, Cheryl Etchison, Kristan Higgins, Sophie Jordan, Deborah Barnhart, the whole team at Avon Books, Jennifer Enderlin, my Romex buddies, Kim Lowe, Kathryn Falk (I dedicated this latest book to her), the whole RT crew from back in the day, Leanne Davis, Geri Krotow, Eileen Dreyer, Maida Malby, Bonnie Tucker, all the crowd at WRW, ARWA, VRW, OSRBC . . . the list goes on and on. I did host a party or two like this one. The last time, we were in the middle of a great time when a friend walked up and asked, “Cathy, did you hire strippers for the party?” No, I answered. “Well, then, the police are at the door.” We were having a fabulous time until we were shut down. Put wine and a room full of storytellers together and magic happens.

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