Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Adrienne Davenport’s character on February 10th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Celia Kennedy, the author of Kathleen’s Undressed: Book 2, The Accidental Enigma, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Kathleen Ehlers, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Celia in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Kathleen Ehlers!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Kathleen. Please have a seat.
Kathleen Ehlers: Hello. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Character Kathleen: Sure.
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Kathleen: I love my job! I am a Business Acquisition Lawyer for L’Oreal Paris, at the main headquarters, in Clichy, France. I live in Paris, can afford to wear incredible clothes, and it is the perfect balance between the detailed and creative.
Our rate at acquiring new businesses has increased over the last few years – everything from The Body Shop to designer perfumeries. I enjoy research and number crunching. I also enjoy knowing we are putting our quality control behind all these name brands.
Am I any good at it? My goal is to be the EVP for Administrative and Finances, and I believe that it is a very achievable goal.
[Currently there is only one person between Kathleen and that title.]
Marie: That’s great! So, what is your family like?
Kathleen: Growing up, it was just me and my mom; no siblings. I had a great childhood though. My mother and I were very close, we still are.
Marie: What did your childhood home look like?
Kathleen: Great question! I grew up in Seattle, Washington (the state, not Washington D.C.). I grew up in the Ravenna Neighborhood – small bungalows on small lots – there were buckets of kids living in my neighborhood. I always had someone to play with.
My mom still lives in the house.
As for the house itself… I think it might be around 900 square feet. Small – two bedrooms, one bathroom, a tiny living room, and an even smaller kitchen.
Now that I think about it, my mom was partial to white walls and cabinets. I never asked her why. I was always partial to a lot of color, so you’d think I would have wondered about this before now. Anyway, the white didn’t stop the house from being cozy and a place where I felt happy and safe.
Marie: Well, that’s good!
Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Kathleen: People think this is crazy, but I love remodeling apartments. It all started when I was in graduate school at Oxford – in England. The pokey little flat I rented had been painted green through-out. So, I bought some paint… and I got hooked on improving the places I lived in.
Since I’ve lived in Paris, ten years now, I have bought and remodeled a few apartments. I try to do most of the work myself; tiling, painting, woodwork – everything that doesn’t required an expert, like plumbing or electrical.
Given the hours I work, there isn’t a lot of time for hobbies beyond my on-going remodeling projects.
Marie: So, what is your greatest dream, Kathleen?
Kathleen: Another great question! My greatest dream… [Laughs.] After becoming EVP? I suppose my dream is to finish remodeling my current apartment. Gosh, that makes me sound dull! I suppose if I were being really honest, spending more time with friends would be fantastic.
Marie: What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Kathleen: I think everyone wishes they could be a little more carefree, I know I do. I read, when I was quite young, that if you write down your goals, they are more likely to come true. In graduate school, I set a list of goals for myself and I’m making great progress towards them. Achieving my goals is very important to me, but they do require long hours at work.
Marie: That’s the truth! 😉
Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Kathleen: [A wistful look quickly passes across her face, and I find her answer surprising.] Who’s to say I’ve had a first love?
Marie: So secretive! But, I’ll let you get away with it.
Kathleen, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Kathleen: [Stares down at her hands for quite some time, before answering.] Honestly, I cannot answer that. [The confidence and grace that Ms. Ehlers has exuded up to this point, deflates briefly.]
Marie: All right. I won’t press.
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Kathleen: Gosh! I was such a pragmatic child. It probably came as no surprise to my mother when I announced I wanted to be a lawyer! [Here, she pauses briefly, before answering with a twinkle in her eye.] I loved to paint as a child – not walls – canvases. If there is a dreamer in me at all, I suppose I dreamt of being a painter. The pragmatist won out.
Marie: So, who is your role model?
Kathleen: My mother, of course. She’s a wonderful woman, who taught me to reach for the stars. I never felt like I couldn’t do something, if I set my mind to it.
Marie: That’s awesome!
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Kathleen: Des Bannerman!
[Readers might remember the scandal in the tabloids last year between The King of Romantic Comedies, with an unknown American woman. That woman, Charlotte Young-Molloy, is one of Ms. Ehlers’ closest friends.]
Marie: So, what is your deepest desire?
Kathleen: To be fearless, to make my goals a reality – the goals I wrote down eleven years ago! To be a loving and supportive friend… maybe take up painting again someday.
Marie: So…let’s switch to another question. What is your greatest fear?
Marie: Well, we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Kathleen. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Celia Kennedy on the stage today. Hi, Celia!
Author Celia Kennedy: Hi. Thank you for having me here.
Marie: My pleasure!
We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Kathleen. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Celia: Kathleen earns her enigmatic title because she is both confident but afraid – she’s reached the upper-echelons of her career ladder – but she’s unable to reveal her emotional scars. Kathleen is an independent woman, financially and emotionally, but perhaps to her detriment. She works long hours to get the career reward, but the price she pays is that she is quite lonely and unable to be vulnerable.
Marie: So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Celia: I think I am quite a bit like Kathleen. I have a lot of confidence in myself when it comes to trying new things; learning, making connections, being a responsible co-worker. I put a lot of work into being competent. When I am invested, I’m all in.
Marie: Okay. Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?
Celia: Kathleen’s greatest weakness is that she fears being alone. The way that she handles it is by isolating herself, before she can be left.
Marie: I see.
What are some of her favorite foods?
Celia: Kathleen loves to eat! That is one of my favorite things about her – she is a foodie. Highly contrasting flavors and textures delight her; hot curries with pickled chutney’s or tart cherries in a sweet dough (this is a Clafouti and makes a guest appearance in Kathleen’s Undressed).
Marie: So, what’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Celia: She’s fiercely loyal – when everyone else is second guessing themselves, their friendships, she is the one in the group who reminds them of their history, of their commitment as friends.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Celia: I think they will love her. When you meet her she is a little reserved, aloof. But as you read her story, you begin to understand that it is a self-protection mechanism, and then you fall in love with her, because just below the surface, she is warm and committed to those in her life.
Marie: Great! Well, now that we have a real taste of Kathleen Ehlers, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Kathleen’s Undressed?
Celia: When I read Book One of The Accidental Series, Charlotte’s Restrained, after it was finished, I realized that we learn very little about Kathleen. While she plays a pivotal role in that book, I didn’t explore her background, her story, as much as I did the other characters. In thinking about why I’d done this, I decided to take that lack of development and create a reason behind it.
Marie: That’s great! I had something similar when I reread Upon Your Return. I knew there was a larger story at work, and now that I’m well into writing the third book, so much is happening.
So, Celia, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Celia: Every time I write a book, my style changes. My natural predisposition is to daydream about the characters and the plotline – mull over different options and opportunities. I have learned to write down, very vaguely, the purpose for each chapter and work from the outline. As I think of questions or try to weave the threads of all the characters’ storylines, I end up with a bunch of scribblings and loads of arrows!
While I write, it is literally as if I am watching the movie, the story unfolds in front of my eyes and I am lost in the experience.
Marie: My notes are pretty messy too, and I hear you about being in the zone.
I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Kathleen’s Undressed or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Celia: I learned a great deal from writing Charlotte’s Restrained, my first book. I did it all backwards. I had a book, but no readers, no connections, no writing community. I didn’t have it edited or design a book cover. It’s scary how much I didn’t know. So, my advice to new writers is to develop your community while you write – don’t be afraid to ask for critiques, find beta-readers and have them give suggestions, make connections with book reviewers, bloggers and readers – but these need to be sincere relationships. You are making as big a commitment to them as you want them to make to you. Your work and your community will only benefit by it.
Marie: What great advice! Thank you, Celia! 🙂
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Kathleen’s Undressed appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new book by Celia Kennedy, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Kathleen’s Undressed: Book 2, The Accidental Enigma.
The ladies from Charlotte’s Restrained are back together! Joining Kathleen in Paris, France, for Fall Fashion Week, the ladies and their men mingle with celebrities, royalty, and the fashion elite.
Kathleen’s thrilled to have her friends in town, but what should be a week of camaraderie and fun is about to take a darker turn. Because Kathleen has secrets. Dark secrets her friends would be devastated to learn.
A special someone enters Kathleen’s life who urges her to reveal what she’s kept hidden. It becomes clear she will have to make a choice when the group reunites for an unexpected wedding.
Will Kathleen continue deceiving her friends at the risk of their friendship — or reveal the truth at the risk of herself?
About Celia Kennedy
Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent’s penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she’s lived in and traveled through several countries.
The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, has been PTA President, Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout leader.
The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her.
Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her books.
Celia published her first book, Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker in December 2012, Venus Rising in August of 2013, Sugar It’s Cold Outside, Cupid on the Loose Anthology, April’s Fool, Fool’s Rush In Anthology, 2015 AND Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma on February 23, 2015. Three other works are in progress.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Celia Kennedy, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Celia-Kennedy/e/B00AW5KEZO/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Kathleen Ehlers, the female main character of Kathleen’s Undressed, and Celia Kennedy, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here!
Readers, don’t forget to check out this awesome new release! 🙂