Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Today on Novels On The Run I have an interview with the editor at Harlequin, Kate Cuthbert ,as part of the Escape Blog Tour. I have not interviewed an editor before and Kate was a lot of fun. Escape Publishing is a new digital imprint. 

Michelle:  Hi Kate, you are a Canadian living in Australia, multi tasking on a daily basis. I have heard that Canadians and Aussies are similar. What is your view on the average Aussie to the average Canadian?

Kate:  This is a really hard question, because it assumes that all Aussies and all Canadians are the same which, of course, they aren't. But speaking in very gross generalisations, I'll say that I find that Melbourne has a lot of similarities to Canada – more so than Brisbane. Brisbane has a very outdoor culture, and that was something I wasn't at all used to. What with four months out of every Canadian year enjoying temperatures in the minus 20s and lower, Canadians have developed more of an indoor culture: cafes, indoor sports, museums, movies, television, even board games.

Also, you may not have noticed, but you guys all talk funny.

Michelle:  You are the Editor at Harlequin Publishing, loving all works of romance. What 10 words describe Kate the editor?

Kate:  Oooh – possibly you should ask one of the authors I edit ;)

Okay, check this out:




Tells it to you straight

Oxford-comma activist


Kommitted (I totally cheated there)

Axe-wielding (one of the launch authors is still complaining about how much I cut out of her manuscript)



Michelle:  The title Editor, what is one of the misconstrued myths about editors?

Kate:  That we're in it to change your manuscript and vision for your story.

Michelle:  What is an average working day for an editor?

Kate:  Heh. You need to link to this site: http://lifenpublishing.tumblr.com. It's all so very, very true! :)

Generally I start my day checking emails. I get a fair few come through from our signed authors, potential authors, marketing, IT, bloggers – any number of people. If I don't stay on top of my email, I tend to get buried in it.

At the moment I'm on the biggest blog tour ever, so I will spend probably an hour or two a day putting together upcoming blogs. I'm also editing – there are two authors on our list that I work with personally, so I have responsibilities there.

When it's getting closer to lunch, and my brain is fried a bit, I'll answer submission enquiries and read through a few submissions. We offer a very fast turnaround time of only two weeks, so I spend a great deal of time reading. This afternoon, for example, is blocked out entirely for reading submissions.

The afternoon/evening is normally when I send out acceptances or rejections (there's no reason for that – it just sort of works out that way).

And throughout the day I'm on Twitter and Facebook, and also our author forums, sharing news or ideas or even what I'm reading so readers have an idea of what they can expect from Escape.

Then, at night, I'll take a full submission to bed with me!

Michelle:   Escape Publishing is a digital imprint of Harlequin, could you please give my followers a rundown of what this means and for those who don’t understand what an imprint is?

Kate:  I think most everyone knows what an imprint is, even if they don't know what they're called. In Harlequin terms, for example, Mills&Boon is an imprint. Or Mira. It's a way of categorising the books into what readers can expect. Mills&Boon are category-length romance with a narrower focus. Mira are single-title length novels with a broader scope.

Escape is digital-first, which means our books are released only as e-books, and we have a very broad scope, with a strong focus on Australian voices and stories.

Michelle:  What song do you think describes Kate Cuthbert? I ask authors this question for their lead characters or a relationship between two characters. I have done enough nosing about with previous interviews you have done to pick up on you having a very energetic personality.

Kate:  Hee. I love Dixie Chicks' Long Way Around. It embodies the zig-zag path that my life (and career!) have taken, and it's a fantastic sing-along-in-the-car-at-the-top-of-your-lungs song, which is crucial.

Love this!! I've been sitting here bopping to it.

Michelle:  Your personal ‘humma, humma’ guy who is fictional, what do you look for?

Kate:  You know, I love beta heroes. The bookish ones with a great sense of humour and a taste for the absurd. The observers. The best friends. Think Mr Knightley from Emma. That guy. Or Richard Castle. If he has a six-pack, well that's just the added bonus, right?

Michelle:  Have you got a book boyfriend, if so *whispers*, you can tell me I won’t tell anyone. I have a few...lol!

Kate:  Well if it's just between you and I, my favourite hero ever is Gideon from Anne Gracie's The Perfect Rake, but if he throws me over, I'm happy to take on Colin from Julia Quinn's Romancing Mr Bridgerton or Rupert from Loretta Chase's Mr Impossible.

Michelle: What is one very memorable book signing you have been to? It can be any author not just Harlequin. What made it memorable?

Kate: I can't believe I'm about to tell you this. This ranks up with my most embarrassing moments ever. But it's also the most memorable signing ever.

I'm all ears...

Kate:  Okay, first things first: I like aerobics, hate step classes. Hate them. But one day it was the only class I could make it to, so I just put on my big girl panties and went. In the middle of the class, I slid off the step and bruised my ankle. It was a pretty impressive injury (it's actually written up in a journal somewhere), but anyways it landed me on crutches for 3 months and cemented my hatred of step classes.

About six months later, (this was in 2007) a good friend and I went across to Houston, Texas to the Romantic Times Convention. I was so excited because Charlaine Harris was going to be there. Not to sound all hipster, but I loved her before True Blood came out. I think by this time she was about five books in to her Sookie Stackhouse series, and I was desperate to meet her.

Anyways, at the conference I met Jackie Kessler (who, side note, writes fab series that starts off with Hell's Bells) and she was lovely. It had been two conference days, and I hadn't yet met Charlaine, so I was chomping at the bit. Jackie and I were walking into the lunch area – I don't know if any of you have ever been to RT, but it is huge. Like 2000 people sitting down to lunch huge. The lunch area was a ballroom, and it was packed. Anyways, I was complaining to Jackie that I hadn't yet met Charlaine. Lovely woman that she is, Jackie said, 'Oh I know her! Shall I introduce you?'

Umm, yes!!!

So off we went to meet Charlaine. Jackie told her that I'd come all the way from Australia to meet her, and Charlaine gave me a hug and signed my copy of Dead Until Dark 'to my favourite Aussie'.

I was ecstatic.

I was so ecstatic, in fact, that on the way back across that ballroom, in front of 2000 people, I did this happy little skip.

And landed on my bad ankle.

Which promptly gave way.

Spilling me directly on to Jackie Kessler, who is a very very tiny woman.

The upshot of this story is that I ended up in bed with ice on my ankle for the rest of the afternoon, and was unable to wear heels for the next three months.

But, I still have a book signed, 'to my favourite Aussie', so I call it a win.

* Air High Five*

Michelle: As a reviewer, what makes a five star read for you?

Kate: It's indefinable, really. I mean, clearly you need strong characters, an engrossing plot, emotional intensity, depth and development. But a book can have all of that and still not sparkle off the page, become real, stay with you past the last page.

And the worst part is, that sparkle isn't the same for everyone. I mean, look at Twilight or 50 Shades. Neither of those series did a thing for me, but their fans are absolutely devoted to the novels.

Michelle: Is there a quote from a book that just did it for you, it has stuck with you , meant something to you. What is that quote?

Kate: Can I give you a quote from an interview, instead? Neil Gaiman did this fantastic interview with Stephen King earlier this year. (you can see the whole thing here: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2012/04/popular-writers-stephen-king-interview.html)

These are two of my very favourite writers, so naturally I was fangirling all over the place. But something Gaiman said about King really struck me, and it's been resonating ever since:

“After that I bought everything King wrote as it came out. Some books were great, and some weren't. It was okay. I trusted him.”

This, for me, just encompasses the whole writer/reader relationship and one that I have with a few authors – sometimes they're not at the top of their game. But it's okay. I trust them. And it's a relationship unlike any other in the human experience – between a creator and an audience. I just love it.

If you want to know what sappy, emotional quote I still get teary over, just read me Christian's speech to Maddie from Laura Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm.

Michelle: What was the last Harlequin published book you read, that really blew your mind? For me, it was Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry. It really hit a spot for me as I am a mum and what would happen to my kids if hubby and I weren’t about? I keep waiting for my 15 year old to get to 18, then I can relax, not too keen about the side effect of me aging along with him . 

Kate: I read that too! I thought it was pitch perfect. Honestly, I get very little personal reading time at all anymore. Most of the time I'm reading submissions, and there are a fair few that have blown me away: Chaos Born, by Rebekah Turner, for example, made me like urban fantasy again, and Grease Monkey Jive just killed it with her big ensemble cast. I just finished a YA submission that I haven't even accepted yet, but is a huge, emotional, so so risky page-turner that I think it's going to blow readers away.

Michelle:  Fun question, if your life was like a box of chocolates, what flavour would it be and why?

Kate: Can I say mint because that's my favourite? No – I take it back. The mousse kind. You know, pretty straightforward, but with a smooshy, soft inner core.

Michelle: I will finish the Q & A up with this. If you could invite 4 people to dinner, whether they were alive or dead, fictional character or real human, who would they be and why?

Kate:  Oh tough. Hannibal Lector. Seriously. I think he's my favourite fictional character ever. Under strict rules, of course, that he will not eat any of his fellow guests. And that we'll be having a vegetarian meal. Kurt Vonnegut Jr, because Slaughterhouse-Five is my favourite book ever. Jon Stewart, because every dinner party should have him ever. And Idris Elba. For the eye candy.

Thank you Kate for your time . 

Thanks Michelle, for your unique and fun questions!

A Novel Approach with a Digital Audience

As experts in the digital space, does instant gratification appease your online nature? Do you or your followers have a burning idea that keeps you up at night? A story that must be told? Now there’s a new home for great stories!

At Harlequin Australia, the leading publisher of romance, we live for reading — for that sigh-worthy first kiss, for that pulse-raising chase scene, for that sob-swallowing goodbye. And we’d love to hear your stories!

Today we are officially launching our digital-first imprint, Escape Publishing — escapepublishing.com.au — which is open to receiving manuscript submissions!

Escape Publishing was created thanks to the ever growing appetite for romance and we were reading thousands of brilliant manuscripts. Yet despite our passion for these works, due to the limitations of the print book business many were not being published.

Escape Publishing takes a novel approach. Firstly, we are dedicated to our authors. If you’re an author with us... it’s all about you! Our promise to you is a personalised service with a fast turn-around of 3 months, supported by an integrated marketing campaign.

“We’re nimble – we are big enough to take the time to help you craft your manuscript and provide the marketing support to help create a bestseller, but small enough to adapt to, and move with, the market. We have built an unparalleled connection to the reader and with over 78% market share, we know romance!” Managing Director of Harlequin Enterprises Asia-Pacific, Michelle Laforest, explains.

Everyone has a story to tell, and Escape Publishing wants to make sure the very best of these stories are shared with the world.

Now is the time to submit! Join us at Escape Publishing as we jump head first into the liberating world of digital publishing!

Visit http://escapepublishing.com.au/ for more information and submission guidelines.


  1. Love the post! Thank you so much.

  2. Words to describe Kate?

    It's so seldom authors get their chance to critique editors ... unfortunately for anyone holding their breath for some juicy gossip, Kate is fab. Friendly and professional.

  3. That anecdote with CHarris was funny... and painful. At least she got a signed book :)


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