Genre Hopping with Kate Clayborn

February is a month for romance so of course I wanted to invite author Kate Clayborn to be with us today. Last winter I kept seeing the book Love Lettering being promoted and decided I had to read it. I loved how Kate’s protagonist, Meg Mackworth, views the world by seeing letters and reading signs. I’m a romantic at heart and a sucker for a good love story and Love Lettering is a great one.

Here’s a bit about the book: In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .  

Name (s): Kate Clayborn

Genre(s): Romance, contemporary

What drew you to the genre you write? I was a reader first — I read my first romance in my twenties, shortly after I’d moved somewhere new for a job. I was still in that space where I didn’t really know anyone yet, and was feeling pretty lonely and unsettled, so I made a lot of visits to my local library (because books are always great company!). I happened to pick up my first romance there…Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, and I just loved so much about it. There was the love story, of course, but also family relationships and friendships and work relationships, and it just really filled me up to read a book like that. So I was hooked! And I really wanted, eventually, to write books that filled people up in that same way. 

What sets your book apart from what is out there? I suppose I don’t think much like this about my books — I feel very lucky to write in the romance genre, where there is just so much talent and rich storytelling, so many unique voices. What I would say is that something I strive to do in my books is to represent the complexity of all relationships — so while my books are primarily about that central romance arc, I also always want to show how much friendship matters to people’s lives and happiness, how there are different types of family, etc. I am a huge fan of romances like this, so I hope I’m in that company of writers who do this well. 

Do you write a series or standalones? Why? I’ve written both — my first three books (and my first novella) were part of a series, and I loved creating that world and getting to revisit characters in each book as I went along. But I also love the standalone model, too — it’s a nice way to think about characters in a more…compact way, I guess? It allows me to have a really tight focus for the world I’m building, and that can be fun, too. 

What are you reading right now? Well, the world lately has been a scary, difficult place, and so I’ve returned to a lot of old favorites — I’ve been re-reading a lot of favorite historical romances, like those by Lisa Kleypas and Laura Kinsale. But I’ve also recently really loved Alyssa Cole’s latest, To Catch a Queen, and I’ve got an ARC of Joanna Shupe’s The Heiress Hunt. I’m also reading Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, which is non-fiction–it’s terrific and, obviously, about one of my favorite subjects. 

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto? I’ve got lots of wise words swimming around in my head, and I don’t know that I could pick a favorite. When it comes to writing, I like anything that reminds me to run my own race/go at my own pace — anything that reminds me not to compare my process or experience to that of others. 

Favorite writing space? I have a lovely desk that my husband built for me years ago, before I ever started writing fiction, and I love writing there. But some days, there’s a corner of the couch I curl up in. Not great for ergonomics, but sometimes good for ideas! 

What do you see when you look up from writing? Most often, my dog — a very sweet, very loyal yellow lab — who is always nearby when I’m writing. 

Kate’s latest book Love at First releases on February 23rd. Here is a bit about it: From Kate Clayborn, the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, comes a sparkling, tender novel about bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love . . .

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

Bio: Kate Clayborn is the critically acclaimed author of six novels. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bookpage, and more. By day she works in education, and by night (and sometimes, by very early morning) she writes contemporary romances about smart, strong, modern heroines who face the world alongside true friends and complicated families. She resides in Virginia with her husband and their dog.

Readers: Do you have a favorite romance in book or movie form? 

20 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, Kate! And thanks to Sherry for introducing you to us.

    I read Jenn McKinlay’s Paris is Always a Good Idea last yea and loved it. My go-to romanctic movie remains Bridges of Madison County.

  2. My very first favorite author: Victoria Holt and her Gothic Romance novels. I found “The Devil on Horseback” in my school library in 5th grade and I was hooked!

  3. Sherry, like you I kept seeing Love Lettering mentioned everywhere I looked. It was available at our library to read on my iPad and even though I had not read anything else by Kate Clayborn, I requested it and read it. I gave it five stars on GoodReads, so you can tell I really liked it and can recommend it to others. I can “see” images in photos, paintings, the tile on our floor, the stain on the ceiling in my dentist’s office etc., but I think that is pretty normal and others are the same way. Meg is unique in her vision and ability to see and write in “code.” I am delighted that I read Love Lettering and will look for other books by Kate Clayborn when I am in the mood for romance books.

  4. Thanks for visiting with the Wickeds, Kate! I have to agree with Liz Milliron! My favorite rom com is “You’ve got Mail” too. I watch it at least once each year.

  5. Wonderful interview – Sleepless in Seattle is my favorite romantic movie.

    My first publications were romances. It’s a genre I enjoy reading and have been toying with revisiting as both a reader and a writer. I think I’ll start by reading some Kate Clayborn.

  6. I loved Priscilla Oliveras’ Island Affair, but I just read Anchored Hearts, her new book and I love that one even more! I do want to read Kate’s books, too.

  7. I have had a lot of romances both in print and on screen touch me. I guess I’m a full blown romantic at heart. The one that I will always hold near and dear to my heart is Noah and Allie in Nicholas Sparks The Notebook. I even bought it for every family member at Christmas one year because I think everyone should experience this story.

  8. I don’t read romances, but I do enjoy the romantic subplots in the cozies I read. I have enjoyed the romances in many movies. Being the Disney guy I am, I’m immediately thinking of some of their movies like Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Up.

  9. Welcome to the Wickeds, Kate! I read tons of historical romances when I was a teenager and I love rom-com movies. Recently I’ve watched Bridgerton and started Outlander on TV. I’ve been wondering why I never read romance as an adult. I think I’ll start with Love Lettering.

  10. I definitely will have to get ahold of Love Lettering. Sounds really good.
    I have a hard time with “favorite ” books or movies. I love so many of them.
    I guess I would have to go with Jane Eyre. Both the book and movie. I have a number of film adaptations. The Timothy Dalton miniseries is the one I have watched the most.
    I find I really enjoy a love story wherever it pops up. Louis L’Amour frequently had a romance in his westerns. Frank Herbert’s Dune had a major love story. People pair up. That’s just what we, as a species, do. That’s why I’ve never understood the bias against Romance.

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