Book Previews, Contemporary Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Dear Mr. Knightley Book Launch and Guest Blog with Author Katherine Reay, with Giveaways

Dear Mr Knightley, by Katherine Reay (2013)

I am pleased to introduce you to a bright new talent on the horizon—Katherine Reay. Her first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, was released on November 5th by Thomas Nelson. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy and personally meeting the author. She was delightful, and so is her novel. Katherine has joined us today for a virtual book launch in celebration of the release of Dear Mr. Knightley. Enter a chance to win one of three copies available as a giveaway by her publisher. Just leave a comment. The details for the contest are at the end of this blog. The lucky winners will not be disappointed.

Welcome, Katherine:

I’m so delighted to be here and to share a bit about Dear Mr. Knightley. This story is the compilation of Samantha Moore’s letters to an anonymous sponsor (Mr. Knightley) who has awarded her a grant to journalism graduate school. And while Sam studies fact, she must lay down fiction – her hiding place.

While we love reading Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Daddy Long Legs and other favorite classics, Sam lives within them. Growing up in the foster care system, Sam learned to avoid pain, strife and loneliness by “hiding” behind her best friends – Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Jane Eyre… But now this habit begins to hurt her and others (as all hiding does), including another young foster kid, Kyle. And that shocks Sam – that she could be an adult who hurts a child.

So the journey begins… And we are invited along through Sam’s increasingly private letters to Mr. Knightley. And believe me, these letters take us on quite a ride. Nothing comes easily to Sam. She struggles to find her own voice, sometimes wondering if she has one at all. And the letters almost make us believe we’ve got a first-person view into her world, but we don’t. It’s even better. There’s a delicious layer we see that Sam can’t – there is what she is willing to tell Mr. Knightley, what she tries to withhold and how she interprets events – any or all of which can look to different to us than to her. The epistolary format allowed me to really explore Sam’s limited perspective and twist it about occasionally. I especially loved playing with Mr. Knightley’s anonymity, Josh’s subtle selfishness, and Professor Muir’s feistiness.

Letters also allowed me to incorporate my love for Jane Austen in an organic way – as we see Sam hide, even when she doesn’t recognize it, and we watch her discover and recognize the pain it and she causes. Adding this homage to Austen was fun and meaningful because our favorite movies and books play such an important role in our lives. I, at least, can relate to Sam in this to some degree – some days I’d like to live within my favorite storylines too. Can I be Emma? I would LOVE to believe that I cannot really change for the better.

But we can’t live within fiction and that’s part of the point too. I purposely made Sam’s life bigger, tougher, and more challenging than many of us face so that we could more easily sneak into her emotional world and realize her struggles parallel our own. In this fast-moving, crazy world, I think we all strive to define ourselves, face insecurity and fear, seek a place to stand and belong, and search for a family to love. I’d love readers to resonate with Sam’s “coming of age” journey and feel emotional camaraderie with her.  And I hope they find themselves wrapped up in an amazing story.

As for other characters in the story, I adore Professor Muir and, I must say, young Kyle Baines is my favorite. This tough fourteen-year-old, hurting, angry foster kid stole my heart. I also loved that he was willing to sacrifice his story, his very self, to help Sam. I’d like courage like that.

So that is Dear Mr. Knightley…

I started the manuscript in 2009 as I was recovering from an injury and reading tons of Austen, Dickens, Webster, Brontes, Lewis, Gaskell… And as Sam developed, I started to push her past in order to see how it could and would change her future. Soon all the other characters joined in – Ashley with her debutante aura, Debbie with her steady practicality, Mrs. Muir with unconditional love – and story filled out.

Now it’s fully formed and available in Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. And that is unbelievably wonderful and crazy for me.

Again, thank you so much for inviting me here and please keep in touch.

Katherine Reay

Many thanks to Katherine for sharing a bit about her new novel Dear Mr. Knightley with us today. I wish you great success.

Author Katherine Reay (2013 )Author Bio:

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries and can’t seem to leave them out of anything she writes.

Katherine did leave them behind for a bit in college and studied history and sociology at Northwestern University and earned a Master’s degree in marketing from there as well.  After a few years working in marketing and a few moves, including stops in England and Ireland, Katherine and her family now reside in Seattle, WA, where she spends her days running, writing, cooking and trying to clean the house and keep up with the laundry.

Visit Katherine at her website, on Twitter @katherine_reay or on Facebook at /katherinereaybooks. She’s also lurking somewhere within the pages of her first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley – and her second, Lizzy and Jane, but you won’t find her there until November 2014.


Enter a chance to win one of three paperback copies available of Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay by leaving a comment asking Katherine about her writing experience or characters, or telling us which epistolary novels you have read recently by 11:59 pm PT Wednesday, November 20, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random from comments and announced on Thursday, November 21, 2013. Shipment is to US addresses only. Good luck to all.

Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson, Inc. (2013)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1401689681

Cover image courtesy Thomas Nelson © 2013; text Katherine Reay © 2013,

60 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Knightley Book Launch and Guest Blog with Author Katherine Reay, with Giveaways”

    1. While sitting around recovering from an injury, I read a TON and a character started to form in my mind. And when I read Daddy Long Legs, I found context and a framework for that character. And so it began …


  1. I love the idea of an epistolary novel (as did our beloved Jane, of course), and I’m excited to see that you’ve revived the art form in your book! What was the most challenging thing about writing in letters, and which character did you find yourself connecting with most as you wrote?


    1. Great question — It was most difficult to make sure Sam saw things and relayed them, but was unable to interpret them. I wanted us to pick up on clues, motivations, situations that Sam misread and it was clear to us she was wrong. I say it was tough, but it was also incredibly fun. As for the character I connected with… I adore Professor Muir.


  2. Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful book filled with unforgettable letters which would be greatly enjoyed. A fascinating story which interests me for the beauty and the characters. best wishes.


  3. Oh, I’ve been dying to read this book! Love Austen, Dickens, Gaskell and Brontë. They’re writing is exquisite. Currently I’m re-reading Persuasion and finished listening to Fiona Shaw’s reading of some of Jane Austen’s letters. Oh, to get a peek into her life would be fascinating.

    Katherine, have you ever been to England? Do you have files with pictures of people that are the inspiration for your characters?


    1. Sylvia, you are reading my favorite Austen right now. I love Persuasion – someone someday is going to have to show me how to make italics here :) — but my book won’t give you a peek into Jane’s life. It is very contemporary and uses Austen’s characters to reveal aspect of Sam’s (my heroine) life. You will meet so many of your favorite friends there — including Lizzy and Jane Bennet, Jane Eyre, Scrooge, Edmond Dantes… And I hope you’ll find that just as fun.

      I have been to England several times and lived a few years in London and just south of Dublin, Ireland. Those were amazing years. My youngest was born in Ireland and constantly chirps about returning to her homeland :)


  4. I love epistolary novels because they combine two of my favorite things, books and letters! I also think Mr. Knightly was one of Austen’s most understated heroes, so I am eager to see how you use this anonymous Mr. Knightly.


    1. Laurel Ann shared with me that he is only two of Austen’s heroes that is “good” throughout. I love that. And, yes, that goodness is understated and under-appreciated. He adored Emma — and always put her first, even at the risk of losing her. Good man. :)


  5. I am so excited to read this book, and i love reading interviews with the authors of amazing books to learn more about the process
    fingers crossed, perhaps i shall win


  6. Saw this in the bookstore and wondered! Love the storyline. Which Dickens would she recommend? The only one I’ve read is “Christmas Carol.” Don’t say “all!” :)
    Good luck and God bless to her in her new ventures.


    1. A Christmas Carol was her favorite. She related to Scrooge quite well, but if you read DMK, you’ll see she had one major problem with him ;). She would also recommend “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations.” I’ve heard there is a new movie for “GE” coming out, or is out, that is supposed to be fantastic.


    1. Yes it is. I have moved on to a second story and, while the heroines are very different, I find myself flashing between the two. They wouldn’t be friends, however, so perhaps that helps :)


  7. This sounds like a great book. I love the idea of letters/journaling telling the story and it sounds like it has been enhanced by the addition of observation for outside sources. A great one to have on my reading list! Thank you!


    1. Easier for me. Once I get about a 50K “skeleton” down then the real fun begins and I get to layer tension and emotion. That’s different for everyone one, though… I know a writer who spends tons of time on her outline then whips off an almost finished manuscript within a couple months. Mine is more of a layering process. Thanks for the question.


  8. I enjoy epistolary novels. I would have loved to have read First Impressions to see how the P & P story unfolded through letters. I am looking forward to reading this.


  9. I love Austen and this sounds like a wonderful book–thanks for the giveaway! I am curious, though: before your injury, had you wanted to write, or was that just something to fill the time and you discovered you liked?


  10. What an intriguing idea for a novel! Katherine, I saw you posted something that said that this novel is very contemporary. Did you find it challenge to make a contemporary novel, but
    still have the flavor or spirit of a Jane Austen novel?


  11. Hey Aimee, it wasn’t that tough for me because I was not bringing Austen into a contemporary context, per say, but allowing Samantha to find safety in the past, in fiction. Quoting Austen was such a part of her personality, that it soon became part of how she viewed the world and related to it.


  12. Congratulations, your new book sounds wonderful! Mr Knightley is my favorite Austen hero so your title got my attention right away. I love to read epistolary novels…my favorites are Lady Susan and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


  13. This sounds so unique! My question for Ms. Reay is… what are some of your favorite epistolary novels? I love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Anne of Windy Poplars particularly much.


  14. You both have named wonderful ones. I would add Daddy Long Legs. And now, I am drawing a blank on others… It isn’t a terrifically popular form these days and, early on, I had to work to keep it. But it was right for Sam and the story. I’ll keep thinking on that….


  15. My favorite epistolary novel is 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I absolutely love this book! The movie adaptation starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins is also excellent. I’m headed to Goodreads to add Dear Mr. Knightley to my “To Be Read” list. Thanks for the giveaway!


  16. I am really intrigued by the way the story is written, it gives you a better look at the character and can see their transformation more clearly. Will you be writing any other books based on an Austen character this way?


  17. This sounds like a fun book! As far as epistolary novels, I have read Amanda Grange’s Dear Mr Darcy and Austen’s Love and Friendship. Thanks for the giveaway!


  18. Danielle, I don’t know that I will. Sam is unique. I will say that my next novel, Lizzy and Jane, plays with Austen characters, themes and literature as well, but within a different context. Very fun and, I hope, different.

    Amy — I’ll have to check out Dear Mr. Darcy. Thanks! And I hope you like DMK as well.


  19. This sounds like such a great book, and a really interesting style of storytelling. I don’t think I’ve read any epistolary books before, but I love the idea of it. Do you plan to write more books in this style?


  20. Anna Dean’s Regency mystery series features some letters in it that the main character, Dido, writes to her sister.


    1. I’ve read a couple books in this series myself, and totally forgot about them writing letters through the story! LOL


  21. This sounds like a wonderful story!! I’ve only read a couple of books that were in epistolary form, the last one being a debut novel by Jessica Brockmole, called “Letters From Skye”. What I liked about the format was that you got a sense of what each person was about, almost like you could hear them reading their letters through the story. I really enjoyed that, and looking forward to reading your story too! Of course, Jane Austen is my all-time favorite author, and I just love to read anything that’s related. Adding this to my GoodReads “to-read” list! ;)


  22. I love this premise and look forward to reading it. I’ve only ever read 2 epistolary stories, both Pride and Prejudice related.

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com


  23. Since you have an active family life, do you have a set time of day and a specific number of hours in which you write? Thank you for the giveway.


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