With the buzz from the recent Oscar awards still simmering through the internet universe, I thought it would be rather timely to talk about my latest hero and heroine of the written screen: Kate and Thatcher. If you’ve been following any of the interviews I’ve done this week, you may now know who Kate and Thatcher were modeled after, but I thought a little more in depth visit was in order. So allow me to introduce you to the real Kate and Thatcher.
Katharine Cavanaugh, the Countess of Stirling
Katharine Cavanaugh is a complex creature. When Katharine appeared in my head, she came with a very simple characterization: she was an actress. That was it. She wasn’t any more complex or dynamic. All I knew was that she was a really great actress. She had to be in order to carry out her work for the War Office. But when I realized she needed her own book, I also realized she needed more character. So soon, two different people began to merge in my head. And the amalgamation was beautiful. First, you have the wonderful Sandra Bullock. Everything on the outside about Sandy went into Kate, from her long brown hair to her button nose to her graceful clumsiness, Kate became Sandra Bullock. However, this was not all there was to Kate. There was a real Kate. (And she doesn’t know I’m doing this, and she’s going to kill me when she reads this!)
But this is the real Kate. Really. Her name is Kate, and you can find her amazing stories at her blog, Fail Better. They are loads better than
anything I write, so please do pop over for a visit. That’s Kate on the right. Yep, that’s actually her. You see why she came to mind when I needed an actress that would fit the likes of a spy for the War Office. I’d love to know where she got those shoes. Katharine Cavanaugh is sincerely the only one of my characters that I have ever based on a real person in my life (so far). And really it’s only parts of Kate that went into Kate.
But once Kate met Sandy, Katharine Cavanaugh was born. And she was perfect.
Thatcher was a bit of an accident like most things that happen in my books. When writing Son of a Duke, I needed someone to help Richard save his sons when their rescue mission went a little haywire. And I thought why not make him American? So at the time, I needed someone cowboyish enough to be a stereotypical American at the time, but above all, he had to be excessively, ridiculously charming. And now that he’s an Oscar winner, I wonder if he’ll still play the part when Hollywood options A Countess Most Daring for movie production.
I’m talking about none other than Mr. Matthew McConaughey. When I first wrote Richard going to Thatcher for help, all I wrote into the manuscript was Matthews. That was actually his name well into the writing of For Love of an Earl. When Kate popped into my head, I knew this character named Matthews that I had created was perfect for her. Only not with a name like Matthews. And then I did some jostling and Matthews became Matthew and Thatcher was added to the end. During edits, I still caught some Matthews here and there that needed correcting.
But beyond looks, Thatcher is his own self. I needed a reason why he had left home and why he might need saving. A character must always undergo a transformation, and Kate Cavanaugh sure did help Thatcher through his.
Now the only question that remains is: who is the next hero and heroine of the Spy Series?