Kate Morton, New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter, has found a new publishing home with Mariner Books. In a starred review, PW had this to say about The Clockmaker’s Daughter: "In addition to love—not only romantic love but also love between parents and siblings—and loss, the stories, brilliantly told by Morton, offer musings on art, betrayal, and the ways in which real lives and real places can evolve over time into the stuff of legends.” With more books on the way, Morton couldn’t be happier about her move to Mariner. The Australian author commented, "I’m thrilled to be working with Kate Nintzel and the team at Mariner. It’s an honor to be published on such a prestigious list.”
Even for a seasoned author like you, I’m sure that every book is a journey into uncharted terrain. What continues to surprise you about the creative process?
There is an element of surprise every time a book comes together. I never feel that I’m facing a blank page when I sit down to write the first word. I am, rather, facing a terrain formed by my imaginings and dreams and visions of what the book might become—some parts bright with clarity, others mist-filled valleys, along with dense forests of unanticipated problems, opportunities, and ideas I meet along the way. Somehow though, each time, the completed manuscript feels like a truth uncovered.
As you begin writing a new book, do you typically conceive of characters or circumstances first?
Characters and circumstances are so inextricably linked that they tend to arrive together, but the most important thing I need in order to build a story is a vivid sense of place. By that, I don’t mean a physical location, although of course that’s vital, but rather, a sense of how the book will make me—and eventually my readers—feel when deep within its world. It is the historical period, the themes, the story, the characters, the types of relationships, the music of the story, the camera angles by which we see the action and characters, all combined—the personality of the book itself.
While you don’t write “traditional” mystery novels, all your books have a mystery (or several) at the heart of them, often involving family secrets. Can you say more about that?
I began my reading life as a mystery lover. Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series, the Trixie Belden books... I longed to be part of a child detective squad and to uncover an evil team of neighborhood smugglers. To some degree, I think our ideas about narrative are shaped through childhood reading—there was never a question in my mind when I decided to write my first book that its structure would hinge upon a secret.