I was luckily introduced to Kiley when she popped up in to my Twitter notifications one day, complimenting one of my book reviews. I saw that she had her own book coming out soon, her debut book for that matter and I knew that I needed to find out more! The book cover for a start had me obsessed and in love, so when I read the synopsis as well, I knew this was my type of book and counted down the days until it’s release!
Like all of the other authors who have made an appearance on my blog, I was lucky enough to have been able to ask Kiley if we could talk more about her book in depth and she kindly said yes! I knew Kiley was an author to watch from the moment I found out about her and having the opportunity to do this interview, I stand by that through and through.
I’d also just like to say a thank you to Kiley, not only for being on the blog, but also for surprising me and her readers with a couple of sneaky peeks to her next release throughout this interview – very exciting times!
Read my full review of ‘One Summer’s Night’ here.
So, without further ado, let’s get in to the interview:
Welcome to BreakfastAtShelbys, I’m so honoured to have you on here! Why don’t we kick start this interview off with you telling us a bit about yourself?
Hello! [waves frantically] Thank you for inviting me to your blog, I’m so excited to be here. I’m Kiley Dunbar, I write romantic novels for Hera Books, I’m an English Literature lecturer in my day job, I have two kids and one Bedlington Terrier, and I live in Cheshire with my husband. Life’s good right now.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
I know everyone says they always wanted to write, and I’m no exception, but I ended up channelling my writing energy into an academic career, which included writing an 81,000 word dissertation on Victorian literature (the same length as my debut novel, as it happens, but I know which one was more fun, not to mention quicker, to write!) As my 40th birthday approached and a change in career seemed increasingly likely when my uni campus was threatened with closure, I switched on my laptop one day and started writing! It just came from nowhere, an overwhelming compulsion to write – and within three months I had a first draft of One Summer’s Night.
‘One Summer’s Night’ is your latest release and also your debut book, which I absolutely loved! Congratulations! Can you tell my readers – who may not have had the opportunity to hear about it yet – what it’s about?
Thank you so much! I’m so chuffed you like One Summer’s Night! The story follows Kelsey Anderson, a Shakespeare addict and vintage photography fan as her life takes a sudden, unexpected and wonderful turn for the better as she leaves her unfulfilling job and relationship behind in Scotland and heads to Stratford upon Avon for a summer working in Shakespeare’s town as a tour guide. Things get very dramatic, not to mention romantic, as she meets Will and Jonathan, and they both seem to fancy her, and she can’t quite work them out! But there’s a Happy Ever After (after a star-studded theatrical gala night) in store for Kelsey with her chosen leading man, and there’s a new career as a photographer on the horizon if she can just learn to recognise golden opportunities when they’re presented to her.
A lot of One Summer’s Night is based on your real life experiences of living in Stratford-Upon-Avon and being a tour guide yourself. It must have felt amazing to be given the opportunity to put your story in to Kelsey’s and talk about such an important part of your life. Are there any parts of the story other than living there and being a tour guide that are also based on real life experiences?
Like Kelsey I too left Scotland to spend a summer in Stratford, when I was an undergrad, and like Kelsey I got to know the town’s best kept secrets. I saw every theatre production that summer and I worked at (what was then known as) the Stratford-upon-Avon poetry festival at weekends too. I felt like an integral part of the place and I’ll never get over that feeling of happy belonging! So much of One summer’s Night is inspired by my love for the town, so you’ll recognise a lot of the settings (though the tour agency and some of the locations are the work of my imagination!) Oh, and I did meet the man who’d become my husband that summer…but that’s where me and Kelsey’s experiences diverge!
I’m very curious to know, as you have described two very gorgeous men in this book – are they inspired by anyone specific? Celebrities? People you know? I know that you also met your husband in Stratford, so does he have a certain resemblance to Will or Jonathan?
When I plot out a book I make a mood board (old school pin board with cut out pictures) and I did let real life actors inspire the love interests, or at least how they look and sound and they ended up all over the mood board! Will Greville, the tour guide, put me in mind of a young Toby Stephens with his red hair (helped by the fact Toby once played a gorgeous Mr Rochester in Jane Ayre) and the book’s American actor Jonathan Hathaway is inspired by a young Leonard Whiting from Franco Zeffirelli’s film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (1968) purely for his dreaminess and because he looks so lovely in a doublet and tights! And there’s a pinch of Bill Hader (from Saturday Night Live and Trainwreck) in Jonathan too, just because I had a massive crush on him in the summer of 2017 when I started writing my book! I didn’t want to write anything of my husband, or anyone I knew in real life, into the book, some things are just for me! 🙂
Did you find yourself in the middle of a Will and Jonathan scenario in real life or was that solely for the book and Kelsey?
Hehe! Nope! I’d have run a mile! Kelsey’s lived a sheltered life and is young for her years, so she has to go through quite a bit of angst and confusion before it becomes clear who the good guy is and she finds her Romeo.
Shakespeare takes on a massive role in your story and I love the little quotes we get at the start of every chapter – When did you find your love for Shakespeare?
I’ve loved Shakespeare since I was a teenager when I stumbled over a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I loved the cover art! Helped by my English teachers at high school I just fell head over heels with Shakespeare. I ended up doing an MA at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, and my happy place is in the cheap seats at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre with a big bag of Revels! I tried to incorporate Shakespearean themes into One Summer’s Night without hitting readers over the head with them.
What’s your favourite Shakespeare book? I’ve only ever read Romeo and Juliet, so I really need to educate myself!
I LOVE Hamlet and that’s my favourite text to teach, but at the moment I’ve got a real hankering for Love’s Labours Lost – which is lucky because that’s the play that inspires some of the action and the themes in the second book of the One summer’s Night duet (out Spring 2020) – and that’s a little exclusive scoop you’ve got there, Shelby!
Being as this is your debut book, it must have been a massive learning curve for you on how to write one and what methods worked best for you – can you give us a small breakdown of what it was like in the day to day life of creating and writing ‘One Summer’s Night’?
You’re not kidding! It was such a steep curve! I’d been writing academic texts for years and was in my comfort zone (but getting bored) with them. Starting to write fiction seriously was a real shock to the system. One Summer’s Night went through at least seven full drafts from draft one to publication and one of those drafts was written following the advice of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (RNA NWS). I submitted my manuscript to the NWS as soon as it was first drafted and the reviewer I was assigned gave me amazing notes that helped shape my book for the better. The NWS is an AMAZING scheme!
If you could describe ‘One Summer’s Night’ in three words, what would they be?
Romantic. Summer. Adventure.
Lastly, do you have any book news to share with us regarding book number two? Is it in the works or are you still at early stages?
I’m busy writing my second novel now, a ‘stand alone’ set in Lapland at Christmas. It’s about two lovers from long ago being unexpectedly reunited. It’s a comedy, and it’s quite a bit thirstier than One Summer’s Night, and lots of fun to write. I can’t wait to share my hero, he is delicious! It’s untitled at the moment and it’s out in autumn 2019, so not long now! (Hey, that’s another scoop! I haven’t told anyone about this yet!) I should probably get on with writing it now!
Thanks so much for inviting me to your gorgeous blog, Shelby!
Thank you so much for agreeing to be on my blog! I look forward to your next release, hopefully we can have another catch up!