We here at It’s About The Book would like to welcome Kate McMurray. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions.
Thanks! I am happy to be here.
Your love of baseball is well known. Are you a one team woman, or do you have a variety of favorites? Have you ever played in a Fantasy Baseball league?
I am a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. Some of you just booed, but my love is pure, right down to my Derek Jeter jersey. I did have some fun rooting for the Royals in the World Series this year. They seemed like plucky upstarts. (Actually, true story: when I was writing Out in the Field, I was listening to a lot of baseball podcasts to get the cadence of the sports talk just right, and one of the ESPN analysts went on and on about how the Royals were going to be the team to beat within five years. I was skeptical, but lo! It’s neat to see that play out as predicted.) Anyway, yes, I play Fantasy Baseball, too. I have every summer for the last five or six years. I did not do well in my league this year, sadly.
New York frequently features as a significant character in your stories. Is there a part or an aspect of New York you’ll never write?
Hmm. Never say never, but probably not Wall Street. Simon in When the Planets Align works for a bank, but that’s as close as I’m likely to get to the financial sector. I find finance talk kind of boring. Otherwise, I can’t really think of anything; there are endless possibilities in this city.
In 2014 you’ve served as the president of Rainbow Romance Writers. What is that, what are the goals, and do you feel this is an organization the average reader should know about?
Rainbow Romance Writers is the LGBT romance special-interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. In essence, it’s an professional organization and advocacy group for writers of LGBT romance. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it; in the few years I’ve been a member, LGBT romance has exploded, not just in the number of titles but in the way it’s being recognized and respected. If you’ve got an inkling to be a writer, I highly recommend looking into it; RRW (and RWA) counts among its members many of the biggest names in LGBT romance and has a lot of great resources for writers.
RRW is on Twitter (@RRWriters), Facebook (http://facebook.com/RainbowRomanceWriters), and has a public blog (http://www.rainbowromancewriters.com/site-blog). You can check us out in any of those places.
In Across the East River Bridge you had a couple who got back together after a break up. Now in When the Planets Align you’ve got a couple coming together after never really finding each other at the right time. What is it about the time being right that attracts you as a writer?
That’s a really interesting question! I think to a certain extent, timing plays a part in romance. That’s true in real life sometimes—chance meetings and second chances and so on—and it’s really true in a novel where the story needs a catalyst to propel it forward. When the Planets Align is mostly about these two guys who love each other but can’t get the timing of their relationship quite right.
In your Stars series, were you worried readers wouldn’t connect well with classical musicians? We’ve all heard many of the pieces your characters played or sang, but short of Googling them many people would have had no idea which piece you were writing about. How do you balance knowing it will resonate with some but go over the heads of others? Do you have any similar worries when writing about baseball?
I worried a little, especially about the opera in The Stars that Tremble because it was so crucial to the plot, and I get that opera is not the most popular of music genres, even though I love it. But “Nessun Dorma” is one of those arias that you’ve heard even if you don’t know you have—it’s used in commercials a lot, for example—so that felt like a safe choice to hang Gio’s plot on. The rest of it I hope readers can at least imagine. Like, you can guess at the skill it takes for Emma to sing an aria from La Traviata even if you don’t know what the specific aria sounds like. And if you are familiar with opera, there’s a lot here to get excited about.
Personally, I like a lot of detail in the books I read and write, but I aim to make the themes universal enough that even if you don’t know anything about the careers of the characters, you can still follow along with what’s happening. Like, you don’t have to know anything about on-base percentages or the infield fly rule to understand Iggy and Matt’s relationship in Out in the Field, but adding all the detail brought the story to life for me, plus there’s a lot there for baseball nerds out there to grab onto.
What are your upcoming projects for 2015 and beyond?
You all are in luck if you like my baseball books. I have a contemporary series coming out in 2015 about an LGBT amateur league. Each book features a different couple, but they also each build on each other, so seeds for book 3 are planted in book 1, and so on. It’s a trilogy right now with the potential for more books set in this world in the future. Book 1 (The Wind Up) will be out from Dreamspinner in April, Book 2 (Thrown a Curve) in June, and Book 3 (The Long Slide Home) in August!
I’m also writing historicals now. I have two coming out from Kensington, probably in 2016. The first is set in the Jazz Age and is a romance between a mob boss and a male vaudeville dancer. The second, pending approval, is set in New York in 1896 during a heat wave. That’s a little more of a murder mystery; the romance is between a cop and a witness to the murder, and Teddy Roosevelt, who was a police commissioner at the time, is a minor character.
I also might or might not be finally writing the sequel to The Boy Next Door.
The designated hitter, good or bad?
I’m agnostic on the issue, although I find American League pitchers trying to hit entertaining in a way that’s like watching five-year-olds play tee-ball. The effort is what’s important!
Which of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is your favorite?
If I had to pick, “Summer,” especially the third movement. The first movement of “Winter” is a close second.
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Pepperoni is my go-to.
Are you a fan or not of Instant Replay in baseball?
Sure. If I have baseball on at home, it’s usually on in the background while I’m doing something else, so I miss stuff all the time. Plus I love that wonky baseball detail stuff, so I’m happy to let the officials debate whether the second baseman’s foot touched before or after the runner’s hand did, you know? That’s good fodder for getting the fans to yell at their TVs.
Iron Man or Batman?
Batman was one of my first comic book loves, but Tony Stark is charming as hell. So Batman, but by a nose.
Once again, I’d like to say thank you for answering our questions. Especially the really important ones, like that last one. Please come back any time!
Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She is active in RWA and has served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers and on the board of RWANYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.