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Friday, August 12, 2016

Interview With Katie Oliver & Book Review of What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?

About Katie Oliver 

Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who "meet cute," Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband and two parakeets.

Facebook Author Page:
Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):

1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I was born in Washington DC and grew up in Northern Virginia. Everyone is from somewhere else. Which is ironic, because here in South Florida - where I live now – it’s exactly the same. (Except down here, everyone is from New York.)

Like most writers, I loved to read and I wanted to write a book of my own from a pretty early age. So after marriage, kids, working and commuting for many years, I finally did.

2) You're from the US, but your stories are set in England. What fascinates you so much about the country?

The UK interested me as a child because, although we shared the same language, British culture was different and fascinating to a kid growing up in 1960s America - before the advent of computers, smart phones, Twitter, and the Internet. My interest started with Disney films that featured young British actresses like Karen Dotrice (Mary Poppins) and Haley Mills (Pollyanna, The Parent Trap). What little I knew about Britain - the Beatles, miniskirts, Carnaby Street, and double-decker buses - I gleaned through films, television programs like “The Avengers” and “The Prisoner,” and photographs in Life and Look magazines. The world was a much smaller place then.

Now, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I talk to lots of UK folks. I've received packages via the Royal Mail containing English candy (big hit), tea and cocoa (yum), Marmite (not so much), and British souvenirs and stickers (awesome). I'm blessed to have loyal UK readers who've enjoyed my books and who stay in touch via social media.

3) You write books that are inspired by Jane Austen stories. What do you love so much about her books and how do you translate that love into a story?

It's the mark of a truly gifted writer to live on through the pages of a book, and Jane Austen has done that. We continue to read her works because they remain relevant and insightful. Her themes of love, jealousy, and social climbing are universal; such behavior is as common now as it was then, whether the setting is a Regency drawing room or a modern Manhattan penthouse. We see ourselves reflected in Austen's unflinching (and often amusing) mirror.

I'm no Jane; certainly few have observed the wide range of human nature and put it to paper as skillfully or entertainingly as she. But I had fun writing a few Austen-inspired books recently, and I met some lovely new readers and Austen fans as a result.

4) Your stories are very romantic. What's the most romantic thing someone's ever done for you?

This probably won't sound very romantic, but my husband surprised me a few years ago with a Noel Gallagher Epiphone Sheridan guitar. It had been unavailable for several years. He searched until he finally located one online. I couldn't play it (I still can't), but I wanted that guitar because I liked the British flag design and because John Lennon played an Epiphone Sheridan back in the day.

So that, for me, was true love. (And one of these days I really WILL learn to play it.)

5) Your heroines are always strong and capable women, what's so important about that?

I hope they end up strong and capable by the story's end, but they usually don't start off that way! For example, Natalie Dashwood (Prada and Prejudice) was a self-centered, hot mess when the book began. It took several serious reality checks before she became the confident, loyal young woman that Rhys Gordon fell in love with.

The heroine should display an initial shortcoming or flaw of some type, and grow and evolve as the story develops. She should face several challenges or setbacks and, in overcoming them, become a better person by the end of the book.

A static main character, whether male or female, isn't very interesting. There has to be character growth by the story's end, or a reader won't stay invested - or interested - long enough to finish the book.

6) You write romantic stories with a sense of humor, why are these two things such a good combination?

I can't imagine falling in love with someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor. I try to make my heroes as adept at cracking jokes as they are at winning the heroine's heart. Comedy keeps the romance real. Films like Bridget Jones's Diary, You've Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally are classics for a reason. Who can forget Bridget’s blue soup or Sally’s fake orgasm in the middle of Katz’s Deli?

7) Can you tell us a bit about your Jane Austen Factor series and can you sum up the main characters in 6 words each?

The series was written very quickly, three books completed within a six-month deadline. They're meant to be a modernized look at a few Austen favorites - Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. They were fun to write and I enjoyed creating Emma Bennet and her sisters, Elizabeth and Charlotte, and the village of Litchfield. I liked their widowed father, Mr Bennet. Despite his wisdom, patience, and fondness for his daughters, his dearest wish is to marry them off so he can get on with his own life.

While I'm still not convinced the pop-art covers suit the books' content (I wanted something more traditional), I've gotten great feedback from readers who find them intriguing and different to the usual sort of Jane Austen book covers.

Lizzie Bennet - Headstrong. Impassioned. Loyal. Stubborn. Romantic. Competitive.

Hugh Darcy - Judgmental. Serious. Honest. Reserved. Steadfast. Intelligent.

Emma Bennet - Clever. Snobbish. Well-intentioned. Inquisitive. Loyal. Self-involved.

Mark Knightley - Observant. Opinionated. Honest. Principled. Fun-loving. Devoted.

Marianne Holland - Passionate. Impetuous. Fun-loving. Jealous. Emotional. Reactive.

Matthew Brandon - Determined. Stubborn. Plain-spoken. Impatient. Sardonic. Guarded.

8) You've written three book series already. How long did it take for you to become a published author and what was the process like?

It took about three years, start to finish, to get published. First I had to complete my book, Prada and Prejudice, which took almost a year; then I had to find a literary agent, which took another few months; and then came the three-book contract offer from Carina UK for my first series, “Dating Mr Darcy.” I was giddy with excitement.

The process itself was difficult, because I worked full time. There were never enough hours in the day. Prior to getting published, I blogged every week and posted on my sparkling-new website to build an audience. I joined the Romance Writers of America and took advantage of online social media classes to learn as much as I could. I set up a Twitter account and began connecting with other writers and readers. 

Once I signed the book contract, the hard work really began. I completed editorial revisions under a tight deadline, wrote guest blogs and answered interview questions in my spare (?) time, while working my day job five days a week. I won't lie - it was stressful, and sometimes I thought I was crazy for doing it. But it was what I'd wanted. It was what I'd worked so hard for. And it was worth it.

9) You have several different animals at home, what are they like?

We're down to two parakeets at the moment, sadly. Our terrier Duke died of complications due to heart failure earlier this summer. I miss him terribly - he was my constant companion, and he often snoozed under my desk while I wrote. If not for walking him every couple of hours, I doubt I’d have moved from my computer.

Our parakeets love to sit outside on the screened porch to watch the world go by. Their singing and chirping always makes me smile.

10) Is there something you still dream about when it comes to writing and if so, what is it?

I'd love to have a bestseller again one day. Prada and Prejudice made it to number one on Amazon a couple of years ago, and that was an amazing feeling. To have that little yellow flag next to your book is a thrill I’ll never forget.

11) What are your plans for the future?

Right now I'm taking a break from writing for the summer. My grandkids are visiting and it's been crazy busy at our normally quiet house. But I love every minute! I'll probably get back to writing full time in mid-August (at least, that's the plan). I have two projects going, and I'm also interested in possibly branching out and tackling something different - a cozy mystery, maybe, or a Regency or contemporary romance.

So keep watching this space…
Book review
Amazon USA Amazon UK
Review by Suze

The Bennets and the Darcy family are neighbors. Lizzy is living at home again after many years of being on her own. Her older sister Emma is also still there and her youngest sister Charlotte is eighteen years old and hasn't left yet. After a long period of absence Hugh Darcy is back at Cleremont, his family's estate. Lizzy can't wait to see him again as she's always loved him, but he has a surprise that will break her heart. Hugh is engaged. His fiancée Holly is a woman she should hate, but Holly isn't so bad. Lizzy wants Hugh to be happy, but preferably with her instead of someone else. What can she do, is she too late and will she have to witness Hugh's love for Holly for the rest of her life?
At Cleremont they're shooting a movie and Holly's ex-fiancé is there to work. She didn't count on running into him again and isn't pleased he's there. He has a terrible reputation with women and hasn't changed his ways since she's last seen him. He isn't the only problem Holly has though. There's the competition with Lizzy, who's known Hugh her whole life, Hugh's mother isn't very welcoming and Hugh's brother Harry isn't what she expected at all. Will her stay at Cleremont make Holly a happy woman or a sad one?
What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? is a great entertaining story. I immediately loved the beautiful setting, there's water with impressive boats, there are gorgeous fields and gardens and there are fascinating houses, what's not to like? Lizzy is a sweetheart. She's kind to others and wants people to be happy. Hugh has his flaws, but he's a gentleman and he has that special Darcy quality. Holly is lovely. She has a cheerful personality and she loves the good things in life. Harry is a nice guy who likes to make people smile. I instantly liked all of them and couldn't wait to find out what would happen to them.
Katie Oliver writes with a wonderful sense of humor. Her stories are fun and uplifting. I like the overall atmosphere and her light approach of life. The main characters land themselves in all kinds of difficult situations and it's fabulous to see what they will do to get out of them again. I read What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? with a big grin on my face. Katie Oliver's vivid writing makes it easy to picture everything that's going on with the main characters and I often had to laugh. I loved reading this sparkling story, it made me really happy.


  1. Like much the pop art design of the book covers. -Lara Maynard

  2. I love the retro book cover and it sounds like a great read too :)

    1. Yay! Thanks Judy...glad you like the cover & thanks for commenting. :)

  3. not my kind of books

  4. I love reading romantic comedies. I'm so glad I found this post.

  5. I love reading romantic comedies. I'm so glad I found this post.

  6. I'm glad you did too, Irma! Thanks xx

  7. Katie's books got me genre jumping (good thing) and I really enjoy her humour which also enabled me to enjoy the romance. I still have a couple of books to collect onto my kindle, Love and Liability & Mansfield Lark. And am sure I will love them as much . Love the interview thanks ! As you can tell I'm a big fan 🌹🌹

    1. Aw bless you, Laura! You're so sweet and I appreciate your kind words. I'm working on a couple of new books, and one of them is - hold on to your hat - a western romance! Lol. Thanks for taking the time to comment. xx

  8. Well, Suze, you know I'm not much of a one for romance but this does sound like good fun and Katie, I can quite understand your reaction to Marmite. It's one of those things that you either love or loathe!

  9. Thanks Kate. :) Well, to be fair, I put WAY too much Marmite on my toast the first time I tried it. My British friend told me I should've used a little bit on buttered toast. Try, try again.. Lol