Guest Author (+ a Free Download & Giveaway): Kate Rothwell – Researching the Past

Posted October 15, 2013 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 7 Comments

Today Kate Rothwell is here to celebrate her most recent release, Love Between the Lines (Currently FREE for Kindle!!), a New York setLoveBetweenTheLines72 historical romance featuring a female news reporter.

Danger doesn’t deter this intrepid reporter—even when life and love are on the line.

Sir Gideon Langham wants the best for his flagship newspaper. Hiring daring female reporter Lizzie Drury, aka “Trudy Tildon,” seems like a wise choice—until he finds himself falling for a woman who’ll risk everything to get a story, including one that puts both their lives in danger.

Lizzie longs to write in-depth articles. When handsome Sir Gideon offers her a job as more than a stringer, she reluctantly leaves her New York beat for unfamiliar London. But as she pursues a murder investigation, ghosts from her past become all too real. Digging up dirt attracts the attention of powerful forces who won’t hesitate to stop Lizzie dead. Hanging in the balance are Gideon’s reputation—and Lizzie’s life. In a race to find a killer, Lizzie and Gideon must learn to trust each other…before it’s too late.


I’ve just published a book set in New York and London, Love Between the Lines, and I’m working on another one, also set in the same period. Here’s the intriguing and annoying thing about the past: it is a foreign land that doesn’t accept visitors. We have to rely on other travelers’ accounts.

I love reading historical romances and hey, any novel counts as a visit – sort of. Once I started writing romances, I figured I shouldn’t just mimic other writers’ observations of that world. At any rate, I have a fondness for New York and there aren’t a lot of historical romances set there, unless they’re about the five hundred richest New Yorkers, and they come across as a version of the London ton with less history, a more recent criminal past, and Yankee accents.

For the longest time, I liked to get my history filtered. I listed a couple of my favorite titles on my website:  Drinking, Drugging, Whoring, Murder, Corruption, Vice and Miscellaneous Mayhem in Old New York by Luc Sante or Five Points: the 19th Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum by Tyler Anbinder.

Then I discovered the morgue at the New York Times and started spending almost as much time reading those articles from the 1800s as I read modern papers. The trouble is if you read the Times you get the impression the entire city was bustling with criminals and mayhem (and highest quality shirt collars available for five cents a piece.)  Without any kind of framing of those articles, a reader can get the wrong impression of that world because of course newspapers are going to only present the lurid side of life. But you also get a sense of freshness and immediacy once a third party sorts and presents the material.


Primary materials are full of opinions and biases. The descriptions of tramps in Jacob Riis’s book is detailed but he is going to interpret the scene he describes. For instance he wants us to know that all tramps are cowards who believe that the world owes them a living.


I used to think it was easier to spot bias in primary material because we’re all so much more sophisticated now.  But I think the reason is far more simple: those writers cared more deeply about the times. They had to live through them. We don’t.


Where else can I get the good stuff to put me in the country of the past? A movie’s fun and it helps get a strong sense of the time. I can write about the sound of horses’ hooves on cobblestones because I’ve seen and heard that in movies. But even a movie or an old newspaper isn’t as effective as the fiction or memoirs I read – I’m talking about writing people did during that era.


Politics and opinionate ranting aside—very far aside, thank you, except if I’m putting popular sentiments in a character’s mouth–I appreciate material written in the past because of the details I wouldn’t imagine from my own experiences walking around New York or even from the movies.


I read a novel written by someone who lived in 1920s New York City and the writer mentioned just in passing “steady clunk as the cars clicked over the points.” What? That’s not something that we’d come up with from looking at those glorious old photos.

I found a letter from someone living in 1883 New York in which he describes how much he enjoyed riding the train so he could peer into the windows of the apartment buildings they passed.


A memoir writer described the barefoot kids running after the ice cart, catching at the cold water dripping out the back of the cart. These are hardly the sort of details you’d see in a movie or read in the paper, but exactly the sort of thing I love in my fiction or reality. Those are the details that make me feel as if I’m getting a real, not filtered, look at a long-vanished world.

Love Between the Lines is available free for Kindle Tuesday, 10/15/13, only!! If you missed your chance to download it, no worries, we’re giving a copy away! Or, if you prefer, you can choose Kate’s first New York set historical, Someone to Cherish.

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glamshotKate Rothwell is an award-winning author who also publishes under the name Summer Devon. She writes romances of all sorts, including some historical m/m books with Bonnie Dee.
Kate is published with Kensington, Simon and Schuster, Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Total-e-bound, Liquid Silver, Loose Id, Carina and on her own.

Find Kate in these place:

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7 responses to “Guest Author (+ a Free Download & Giveaway): Kate Rothwell – Researching the Past

  1. Glenda M

    I have to say that the little historical details – like children chasing the ice wagon – can make a story. Very nice article Kate!

  2. BookLady

    Congratulations on the publication of Love Between the Lines! It sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks for sharing your method of research for historical fiction. Attention to detail provides a realistic view of life in a different time. The elegant clothing, ball gowns especially are so romantic.

  3. Christy

    The book sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to read it. I love this period and historical romance in general. The spice of some adventure and danger just adds more appeal. Great cover too!

  4. A wonderful and thought provoking article Kate. You have me itching to dig up some primary source material and start researching again. Congratulations on the new release. I love the cover and I can’t wait to read it. I know it’ll be fantastic. BTW I love your website!

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