Author interview and new book launch for Kerry Chaput

I’m lucky enough to know author Kerry Chaput from the wonderful Women’s Fiction Writers Association and its lively sub-group on Historical Fiction. I love her work and am impressed by her versatility across genres, so I’m especially honored to have her as a guest this week.

Born a California girl, Kerry now lives in Bend, Oregon where she can be found hiking and enjoying the amazing trails of the Pacific Northwest. She lives with her husband, two children, and two dogs, sharing the love of Oregon and finding inspiration in the world around her for her writing.

Kerry Chaput photoThanks for taking time to come on my blog, Kerry!

Thank you for inviting me, Kimberly. I loved your book Dark Blue Waves!

Thank you!

First off, I’m so impressed how you write across genres. You’ve published contemporary women’s fiction, historical fiction and now you have a young adult project in the pipeline. Is this strategic on your part – reaching out to different audiences – or do you love following the different stories that take shape in your mind?

I’d like to say this was strategic, but it wasn’t at all.

I’m a pantser and a kinesthetic learner, so I had to learn as I went. I’ve just listened to the stories that call to me and through time and multiple projects, I’ve landed where I really want to be. YA/adult crossover, always historical, fierce young women, action-adventure and first love. I’m stepping into light historical fantasy and so excited to see where this takes me!

I read and loved your Daughter of the King, a fascinating story opening in 1661 France and following Isabelle, a young Huguenot woman persecuted by the majority Catholic population. I loved following her story as she eventually becomes a fille du roi – a Daughter of the King – sent to France’s territories in Canada to marry one of the settlers and build a new society. How did you settle on this (fascinating) piece of history for your novel? What kind of research did you do?

Daughter of the King was my education in every way. It taught me how to write, how to edit, how to give and get critique, how to query, etc… And I learned what worked and didn’t work for me in researching. I’m the oddity in historical fiction because I do loose research before I start, then write the entire rough draft without much research. I want the story to follow the character’s motivations and be accessible to modern audiences. As my editing phase is very long and tedious (life of a pantser), I really dig into research in subsequent drafts.

Daughter of the King came about after looking into my husband’s French-Canadian ancestry. His family is entirely from Quebec, and I wanted to know where in France they came from. That search took me on a wild chase to find that he and my daughters are descended from at least thirty-three Filles du Roi (Daughters of the King). Anyone who has French-Canadian ancestry is most likely also a descendent of at least one of these eight hundred women.

I absolutely adored your beautifully portrayed descriptions of the “matchmaking events” in your novel. These were events hosted by the nuns for the filles du roi once they reached Canadian shores, and allowed the transplanted women to meet eligible young men seeking a wife. Did you come upon details like this in your research? Did you have fun bringing this history to life on the page?

This was the part of my research that made me want to write this story. Women plucked from dire poverty in France, chosen by the king for a new life in the colony, where they could interview the men, choose their spouse, and have complete control of their fate? What? My first thought was, how have I never heard this before? My second was, I must write this story. Some of the womenconverted from Protestantism to Catholicism for this opportunity, and that really resonated with me.

I imagined how hard it must have been to make that choice. I refer to the matchmaking scene in the book as “seventeenth century speed dating,” and yes, it was very fun to write.

What was most interesting to you about the historical research for this novel? What is an element that surprised you most?

I’ve always been fascinated by women in history, mostly because we aren’t taught much about them in school. We have this idea that women for hundreds of years have been passive and controlled, when there were many women fighting for freedom, both quietly and forcefully. I love learning about women who changed history, and these pioneers sure did! Eight hundred women basically birthed a nation.

Daughter of the Shadows coverYour sequel, Daughter of The Shadows, follows Isabelle’s journey in Québec. Can you give us a preview and tell us how you decided to write it?

I always knew I would make a trilogy as this is such a huge story. In book one, Isabelle saves herself. In book two, she saves her people.

Isabelle has made her choices and accepted her fate, but she’s stronger and smarter now. She’s matured, and she finds her voice by facing her new and old enemies… including her deceitful husband.

The novel takes place in 1667 Quebec and Paris.

You also have a young adult historical fiction novel in the works. Can you give us a sneak peek?

I’m so excited about my first young adult book. Chasing Eleanor is set during the Great Depression, and features tough, complicated, seventeen-year-old Magnolia, who travels the country in search of Eleanor Roosevelt, believing the First Lady can help her put her family back together. This was a very emotional story for me to write and I’m thrilled to see it come to life. There will be a cover reveal at the end of January, and release date is June 15, 2023.

What is your favorite aspect of writing? What do you find the most challenging?

Writing has truly changed my life in every way imaginable. I love that it helps me work out confusing and difficult part of life. I’ve realized how each book helps me explore an aspect of the world that troubles me. I love to dissect emotions and evaluate them. The most challenging for me is that I write very close to the bone. I rip apart things that plague me to understand our minds and hearts. I often need a lot of alone time to process the things I discover about myself.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Obviously reading! I love coffee and spending time with my family and two dogs. We live in the Pacific Northwest, so outdoor living is very important to us. We kayak, standup paddle board, hike, and camp. I also adore traveling and hope to take a trip to Europe this summer while I research my next novel.

We both belong to Women’s Fiction Writers Association. What do you think WFWA and other professional writing associations offer to authors as they develop their careers?

I can’t say enough about WFWA. I’ve met my critique group and most of my close writing friends through the organization. From webinars to conferences to pitch events, I can honestly say professional associations have made all the difference in my learning. Finding like-minded people to share this journey with is really inspiring.

What advice would you offer to aspiring authors as they strike out into the writing life?

Settle in. This is a lifelong journey. Writing is commitment, patience, and a bit of magic, in my opinion. What will save you is your process of showing up and your willingness to keep moving forward.

Anything you’d like to say to your readers?

Just a thank you for allowing me to live out my dream of sharing the wild stories that appear in my head!

What projects do you have on the horizon?

After fighting it for some time, I’m making the transition to YA historical fantasy. I’ll probably still bounce between historical fiction and fantasy, but I’ve realized how much fun it is to dip into the side of history that already feels like magic to me. I’m querying a 1920s fortuneteller story titled The Death of Primrose Whittaker and drafting a 1920s theater story titled Vaudeville.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Kerry!

Thank you, Kimberly! I always enjoy chatting with you.

You can stay in touch with Kerry, follow her on social, and take a look at her books at the following links:

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