Hi, Cate, so glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Dreams Within Dreams. What inspired this story?
The city of Charleston, South Carolina actually inspired the story. We lived in the city twice, for several years each, during my husband’s Navy tours of duty. It is one of the oldest cities in the United States with tons and tons of history behind it. I confess it—I always loved history. I recall a story I started years and years ago, while we still lived in the city. We had a computer, but I hadn’t a clue how to use it. In my defense, it was one of the earliest home computers—my husband’s undergraduate degree was in electrical engineering. He owned it before Word for Windows appeared on the horizon. Pencil and paper made a poor substitute in my humble opinion. The story didn’t get very far, but it, too, would have been an historical.
Richard Berkeley has won his treasure, but Lord Thomas Graham is back, and Richard is on his home turf now. Laughable fop or a menacing foe? No matter which it is, Richard will be damned if he lets himself become a Rob Roy for yet another Marquis of Montrose.
War looms on the near horizon, forcing Richard to make difficult choices—support his firmly held principles…or those of his English family. Nothing will be safe, nobody will escape. If means exist to prevent disaster from striking his wife, children, home, and people, he’ll find it. Worse yet, Alexandra believes he is wrong in his choice. Will he lose her if he persists with his choice?
Courage, Alexandra Berkeley’s special gift…is also her curse. Lord Thomas Graham’s presence in their midst frightens her, enrages her, turns her to ice. He lurks in shadows, behind doors…and among strangers paid to accomplish his treacherous bidding. He’ll stop at nothing to ruin the Campbells—nothing, Richard and Alexandra included. He’s struck at Richard—once…twice…three times. How long before his malignant influence knocks at Oakhurst’s great front door? It will not. Not if she can prevent it.
Dreams Within Dreams is a tale that sweeps the reader from the glittering Court of St. James to the elegant drawing rooms of Charlestowne, of the South Carolina colony during the years immediately preceding the Revolutionary War in the South.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
I get an idea where I want the story to go—sort of a loose plot—and then I begin the research for what I’m sure I’ll need to know. I build my characters in my head before committing them to paper. I try to get a good sense of who they are and what they want. I work on what flaws their characters—everyone has flaws—and what their obstacles to happiness will be. It’s a loose plot, because it’s my characters’ story and I want to be careful to let them tell it.
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Richard Berkeley is the hero of my first three books. He’s by far my favorite character. He’s everything I could want in a hero—tall, dark-haired, green-eyed, well-muscled and devilishly handsome. He’s well-educated, well-spoken and decisive in his actions. The perfect guy? Well he has faults, too. Sometimes his temper is a bit too quick, for instance.
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
Oh—I have a lot of them. This book covers almost ten years. It also covers a lot of terrain—from London, into the Scottish Highlands, the north Atlantic and the Carolina Low Country. In what must be one of my favorite scenes, well, rather than tell you, just let me show you. It’s brief.
Guests strolled in the following day’s warm afternoon sunlight, taking pleasure in Inveraray’s extensive gardens and its late-blooming flowers. After his return from the salmon stream, Richard spied his wife, from the saloon windows, walking with Betty and Lord Edward Stanley. He took the stairs two at a time to join them in their stroll. He caught Alexandra’s hand in his after she flung her arms wide and whirled like a Sufi dervish. “Ah Richard, there is nothing in all the world quite as lovely as Scotland in September.”
Looking into her glowing face, he couldn’t disagree with a single word of her pronouncement. He bent and dropped a kiss on the end of her nose. “Except you,” he whispered.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
England and Scotland call to my soul. I always favor places with mountains and high hills, places where fast-moving streams fall from tall cliffs. My ideal journey would start in the Cotswolds in Wiltshire and head north through England, into the Yorkshire Dales, and onward through what was once known as Cumbria and then to Scotland and the Highlands.
What do you like to read?
They tell writers to write what they read. So I do. I read historical fiction of pretty much all periods. I’ve read pretty much all the genres of romance fiction and my favorite remains historical. Nevertheless, I’ve read thousands and thousands of books written other in genres. My favorites remain historicals, but I’ve read books written hundreds of years ago.
Do you listen to music while you write? What are you listening to now?
Absolutely. I get right into my story when I put my favorite music on to play. The music I listen to was written well over two hundred years ago, during what was known as the Baroque period. It’s actually earlier than what’s thought of as the classical period. It was written for chamber groups rather than huge orchestras. Right this minute I’m listening to a composer named Tomaso Albinoni. I regard his Concerto in D minor as one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed—quiet, peaceful and elegant.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
This is a weird admission, but I don’t actually know. It was probably my mother. She loved to read and always had tucked on her shelf to read when everyone was finally quiet. The problem is, that I have absolutely no memory of a time I didn’t read. I even recall reading a specific book at just over four years of age—I even remember the book’s stories and the pictures. Nobody ever remarked about my very young age—at least, not to me. Because of it, I thought it was natural.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to write since—I can’t actually recall. One of my friends I’ve known since grade school told me I’d always liked to write. It’s actually true, I confess. Pity the poor teachers who assigned a theme to the class way back then. Pity my poor brothers who later plowed through the longest letters you’ve ever imagined receiving from someone. My brother Kevin once asked me why I didn’t just write a book. Okay, Kev, so I’ve done it. I just finished my third.
What don’t most people know about you but you would like to share?
I’m actually terribly shy. Almost nobody would guess that about me since I’ve never been known as one who is known as short of words.
These are few of my favorite things:
1. I love color. If I had to pick a sense I’m sure I couldn’t do without, I’d pick my gift of sight. My favorite colors are green…and maybe yellow.
2. I love gardens. Pathetically, it’s true. I say pathetically since I have one of the brownest thumbs between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
3. I’m an animal lover. My husband and I have owned two female Labrador retrievers and five male Siamese cats during our marriage. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that they’ve owned us!
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“Mr. Richard Berkeley and Lady Alexandra Berkeley,” proclaimed the queen’s chamberlain in stentorian tones. Sharp pounding resounded throughout the noisy chamber when he struck his long mace against the marble floor once…twice.
Heads swiveled their way. Painted and many-patched men and their ladies, garbed in gorgeous court clothes and dripping with jewels, thronged St. James Palace on this Thursday evening for the queen’s bi-weekly Drawing Room. Word of the Berkeleys’ appearance had spread through St. James District like fire through a ramshackle barn stuffed with dry hay bales. Richard’s and Alexandra’s sponsors, her grandmother and aunt, flanked them. Two duchesses as sponsors—such had never before been the case to everybody’s certain knowledge.
Richard led Alexandra forward through crowds that parted like the Red Sea before Moses when they passed down the center of the mammoth room. Halting before the pregnant queen, Richard swept his grey tricorn from his head, extended a foot and bowed from his waist while his wife sank into a deep curtsey.
Waves of murmurs swept through the assembly behind them, scarcely audible confidences, overheard by Richard’s keen ear. One of them, a girl born with every advantage, had allied herself to a mere gentleman whom nobody had ever heard of before, nobody would distinguish with an invitation anywhere, and nobody wanted to know. Yet from the number of invitations flooding in to Her Grace of Argyll’s secretary, everybody most plainly did. From the corner of Richard’s eye, he glimpsed several short men and a few women clamber onto chairs to capture a better view of them. One elderly dame even lifted a lorgnette containing pink glass to match her silk gown. Richard successfully stifled a smirk. For somebody nobody wanted to acknowledge, he’d garnered enormous attention.
“We have not enjoyed your presence in our Court for the past year and more, Lady Alexandra.”
Queen Charlotte’s gaze swept her from bright red, high-piled curls to the hem of her magnificent embroidered cloth-of-silver wedding gown, the only acceptable attire for her appearance today.
“We hear you have given birth to a son, Lady Alexandra. What did you name him?”
“Edward Thomas Rutledge Campbell Berkeley, Ma’am. He was born last December.”
“We are pleased to see you in good health, for you appear well, indeed. You give no evidence of your recent travail. And you are happy, we see, for you are aglow with it. Very well, very well,” she smiled, a rare occurrence during one of these tedious events, and waved her hand in dismissal. “Now step aside, gel, while we acquaint ourself with your gentleman.”
Richard snapped to attention and bowed his head. “Your servant, Ma’am,” he drawled. His accent, with its long, slow, in-gliding vowels brought a smile to the queen’s lips. Those near enough to witness her open appreciation gasped, their eyes widened with amazement.
The small woman before him lifted her head and gazed into his eyes. He’d come to recognize such smiles. He’d seen them since he was a boy, fighting off advances from flirtatious females.
“We are charmed by your distinctive accent, Mr. Berkeley. You are from Charlestowne of our South Carolina colony, are you not?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I am.”
“Yet you spent a number of years in England.”
“That’s true, Ma’am,” he grinned, impressed she knew anything of him. Of course, Alexandra had written her and, doubtless, explained. “I attended school in England. Lord Edward Campbell convinced my father to send me to Eton when I was eight years old. Later, I entered his alma mater, Christ Church, Oxford. Afterward, I trained in the law at London’s Middle Temple.”
“Is that when you met Lady Alexandra?”
“No, Ma’am. I didn’t have that privilege until several years later.”
From the corner of his eye, he glimpsed Alexandra slanting a glance at him while he stood at ease, with hands folded behind his back, and flashed a grin at the queen. The small brown-haired, sallow-skinned woman with striking turquoise eyes lifted her chin. He suspected nobody ever presumed to grin at her. But Her Majesty was a woman and, he supposed, from her widened eyes and the flirty grin playing on her lips, he’d surprised and stricken her, as most women had been all his life.
“How was that, Mr. Berkeley?”
“Lord Edward Campbell, Lady Alexandra’s father, was my mentor and, later, my business partner, Ma’am. He and my father planned a betrothal between us since we were children—though, they didn’t bother to share the information with either of us until the spring of 1768. Since I was soon to embark upon a voyage to England, His Lordship sent along a letter of introduction to the Duke of Argyll, in Inveraray, Scotland. After I saw to my affairs in London, I travelled north—and met my wife.”
“I see. Yet, Lady Alexandra failed to mention it to us during the following year when she served us as a Maid of Honor.”
Richard grinned again, amused. Her Majesty gasped and leaned toward him, her eyes widened further. He doubted any gentleman had ever been so audacious as to display genuine friendliness toward Her Majesty during all the years she’d sat beside her husband on his throne.
“A delicious tale, Mr. Berkeley. We have always been fond of your lady wife, and are pleased you make her happy.”
“I’ve tried, Your Majesty, but I’ve not always succeeded.”
“And why is that, sir?” By her alert posture and the crinkling of her eyes at the corner, Richard knew laughter lurked while she awaited the outcome of his anecdote.
“You see, once I refused to burn a house down for her. On another occasion, I forbade her to ride. I recall even threatening to post guards on her. She was remarkably unhappy with me on both occasions, Ma’am.”
“And why were you commanded to burn a house down, Mr. Berkeley?”
“It contained a nest of snakes, Ma’am.”
I’m a writer of historical romances.As a member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers and Celtic Rose Writers, I write historical romance. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and began writing seriously over eight years ago. In my day job, I am a registered nurse. It has been my privilege to practice pediatric nursing during my entire career. I’m also the wife of a retired U.S. Navy Officer. I’ve lived and travelled with him for the twenty-six years of his career. With him I’ve visited England, Canada, Mexico and all but four of the United States. Thanks to him, I’ve dipped my toes in every body of water that washes America’s shores, including the Gulfs of Mexico and California and even the Arctic Ocean (br-r). I’ve travelled over, under and on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. After many journeys across this great nation and back again, I now live, love and write among the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in lovely Northeast Tennessee.
My blog is called Tuesday’s Child. As it happens, I was born on a Tuesday. I’m convinced my mother made a big mistake, though. I believe she meant to give birth to me on the previous Thursday. According to the old Mother Goose tale, which says Thursday’s Child has far to go, my life would have been far better defined. I would also have been born under the sign of the lion, which would have reflected my redheaded temperament much, much better. It’s true. What could my mother have been thinking??? (I really had red hair once upon a time. I was born with it and had it all my life–until not long ago…but that’s another story. But it’s true, too.)
According to that dear old Mother Goose tale, I should have been born full of grace. So very sad, but nobody ever, ever attributed that particular virtue to me. After only college class in dance, I was convinced of the unfortunate truth. I can’t sing, either. True. Nobody would ever ask me to do more than hum or add volume to a chorus. Nor can I paint, or even draw a picture. My mother was an artist. Dear Mom didn’t pass along a single shred of her skill. So what does a girl do whose soul demands expression? She becomes a writer to fulfill its burning need. That’s also a true story.
You can find Cate at:
Blog: Tuesday’s Child: http://www.cateparkeauthor.com/tuesdays-child.html