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The Untied Kingdom Blog Tour

My dear Lady Kathryn of the Nutstrewn Neighbourhoods and Squirrel Lands, it’s wonderful to be guest blogging here at The Nut Press about my forthcoming release, The Untied Kingdom. Shamefully, I have just realised that the book contains absolutely no squirrels whatsoever, but just in case you think I’m being anti-squirrel, I will add that apart from the occasional horse, there aren’t any other animals either. Well, not unless you count the snakelike villain or the doglike devotion of the hero’s sidekick.

A sidekick, I hear you say? (I have very good hearing). What sort of book has a sidekick? Well, this sort…

The portal to an alternate world was the start of all her troubles – or was it?

When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it’s not the London or England she’s used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England s a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve’s a spy.

Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire.

Turns out the best person to help him is Eve. She claims to be a popstar. Harker doesn’t know what a popstar is, although he suspects it’s a fancy foreign word for spy . Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There’s every possibility she’s mad.

And Harker is falling in love with her.

You might notice from the above blurb that my hero, Major Harker, doesn’t appear to have a first name. This is a cunning trick of mine to hide his first name from you until you read the book, but be assured, he does have one.

Yet why haven’t I mentioned it? Well, because there are only two people in the book who use his first name, and that’s only a handful of times each. Those two people are his ex-wife, and his heroine, Eve. But rather like TS Eliot’s Old Possum, he prefers a certain form of address.

(You bow, and taking off your hat, address him in this way: O Cat!)

Most people call him Harker, or address him as Major. Even his best friend—oh, all right, sidekick–calls him Sir to his face, even while he addresses her by her given name. I got to wondering why, and I realised that while he’s easy in her company, she can’t ever quite forget that he’s her commanding officer. Harker considers Charlie to be not just his closest ally but his friend; she considers him to be the best officer she’s ever served under. She uses his title as a way of maintaining a professional distance between them.

Even the two women who’ve had the most impact on his life, his ex-wife Saskia and his heroine Eve, rarely call him by his first name. Harker is simply the name everyone knows him by, because that’s the way he’s addressed as a soldier, and being a soldier is such a huge part of who he is that there’s little left for anything else. Probably the last person to call him anything else was his mother; since he joined the army he’s just been Harker.

On occasion, when he’s pretending not to be Major Harker, he will go by his first name and nothing else. He does it to hide, because to him, that’s not who he really is. And on the flip side, when he wants to intimidate or bamboozle someone, he’ll offer you a salute so sharp it makes you check for blood, and introduce himself as Major Harker of the 75th of Foot, at your service, ma’am.

Only people who’ve got very close to him ever call him by his first name, and even then it’s only in times of stress or intimacy. They use it to get his attention, to signal to him that what they’re saying is really important, and only a fool would ignore it. And they use his name to remind him how close they are, and how well they know him. The first time Saskia does it she’s putting aside her personal quarrels with him to tell him something important. The first time Eve does it, she’s letting him see how important he’s become to her.

As for Eve, hardly anyone has any compunction about using her first name, least of all Harker. Why? Eve’s a civilian, and she’s under a lot of suspicion, and by using her first name Harker is reinforcing that Eve isn’t someone he has to impress or show any respect to. He doesn’t consider her to be his social superior. Harker, a working-class lad from the North, defiantly refuses to consider anyone his social superior, although he accepts the hierarchy of the army.

To those who admire or respect Eve, or consider themselves her social inferior, she’s simply addressed as Miss. On occasion, the other characters call her Miss Carpenter, generally when they’re being over-formal, in that specially cold way we British have of politing someone to death.

So how do you address people you know? You can probably think of at least one close friend or family member you use a nickname or diminutive with—and I bet, like me, you do it on purpose to show how close you are!

To most people I’m known as Kate, to people who know me mostly online I’m K8, to a few who know me as my erotica-writing alter-ego I’m Cat, which is the name I’d have chosen for myself if I could (and hey, I did!). Only people who enjoy physical pain call me Katie more than once. I’m frequently warned that one day I will be known solely as Crazy Cat Lady (a prospect that doesn’t fill me with half as much dread as it used to).

What would you like to be known as? Do you like being addressed by your normal name, does a nickname annoy you, or would you, like my Master of the Universe cat Spike, prefer something more formal? His Most Spikalicious King Spike of Spikington and I invite you to comment upon the subject, in return for which you’ll be in with a chance of winning a copy of The Untied Kingdom. Leave a comment by midnight (GMT) on Thursday 10th March, 2011.

Kate is a prolific writer of romantic and paranormal fiction. Born in 1982, Kate is Choc Lit’s youngest author and lives near Stansted. She is a self-confessed fan of Terry Pratchett, whose fantasy fiction has inspired her to write her own books. Kate worked in an airport and a laboratory before escaping to write fiction full time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has previously published short stories in the UK and romantic mysteries in the US. She’s a previous winner of the WisRWA’s Silver Quill and Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume award.

Her UK debut novel

or The Book Depository. To find out more about Kate, check out her Author WebsiteKate’s Blog or Follow Kate on Twitter.

Comments

kath
Reply

Welcome to The Nut Press, Kate! I absolutely LOVE the sound of The Untied Kingdom and Major Harker. Can’t wait to meet him early next month when the book comes out.

His Most Spikalicious King Spike of Spikington does look very regal in the picture, and while he’s about I’ll get peace from the squirrels, so he’s very welcome here… I am totally with you on being called Katie – I can’t stand it either! And that goes double for Kathy. I much prefer Kath. Although, I am liking the sound of Lady Kathryn of the Nutstrewn Neighbourhoods and Squirrel Lands… I could get used to that! 🙂

Jan Jones
Reply

I shortened my name to Jan as soon as I possibly could, round about the same time as I freed my hair from its neat, tidy plait and started wearing it loose during the day. Only people who knew me as a child now use my full name (they probably also regret the plait).

kath
Reply

I’m now wondering what you shortened it from – Janice, Janet, Janelle, Johannes, Janene, Janessa, Janette, Janetta, Janek, Janneke, Januarius… come on, Jan, spill & tell us! Your secret’s safe with us. As are any plait pictures you wish to share…

Catt
Reply

I love this post. Enjoyed reading it. The Untied Kingdom sounds interesting. I wouldn’t say it’s my usual sort of thing, but when I first heard about it something caught me and I’m actually quite interested in reading it. I love the idea of one having a certain form of address too.

I like to be known as Catt. I’m going to tell you more: I am born Catharine. Catharine with a C, and an ‘a’ after the ‘h’, which is unusual. Gran says my mother can’t spell. Personally? I know of Catharine’s with an a, just uncommon. We won’t go down the path of my middle name…

Catt is my name for short. When I was around 10 or 11, my grandmother was putting my name into her mobile phone (aka brick) when adding my number, and she put Catt, with two t’s. And it stuck ever since. I adopted it and now, at nearly 20, I love it. It does not annoy me – far from. I’d be more peeved if someone called my Catharine than Catt. Catharine is what family call me if I misbehave. (not that I am naughty or anything….)

I have a further nickname. A very good best friend of mine, Lotti, whom I’ve known for several years, calls me Hubfy, and I call her wifey. And she gave me the nickname Detty. Having been such a big support to me over the years, and the longest friend I’m still in good contact with, I use that name with writing. In my email address and blog address, I call myself ‘dettythcatt’ which I like.

I’ve never really thought about being a Master of the Universe or King or such like, but I do call myself Catt the Lioness and I ROAAAARRRRRROARRRRRRRR. That’s how I deal with the chronic pain I am in. I fight it because I am a lioness and I roar and I’m going to fight it til the end.

So, I hope I haven’t gone on too long. But Catt, Detty, dettythecatt, lioness. I rock, with any nickname.

kath
Reply

You do rock, whatever the nickname and I’ve always wondered where dettythecatt came from and now I know! Hurrah! I only get called Kathryn when I’ve been naughty, as well – so it rarely happens. Honest.

Rachel Lyndhurst
Reply

Mmm, I don’t appear to have a nickname, unless Rach counts.

Our neighbour is called Major. He doesn’t know this because he’s actually a Lieutenant Colonel and extremely pompous, but it would probably annoy him. Which is a good thing.

Now this Untied Kingdom book sounds absolutely fascinating. I’m hopping over Amazon right now to have a nosey – methinks I want a copy … xxx

kath
Reply

Rach, I’m going to call you Six after the infamous Chapter Six… 😀

esmeraldamac
Reply

I guess we all get a taste of names-as-messages when our mothers only call us by our full names when we’ve done something we shouldn’t!

My mum’s casual name for me is Sally. Which is not my name. I asked her once why she didn’t just christen me that, and she replied, ‘don’t be daft. That’s a dolly’s name’. So it would seem I am my mother’s dolly.

Still. At 43.

kath
Reply

Mothers, eh? Mine’s nickname for me is kittag which is a Caithness word for the Kittiwake, so my mother thinks I’m a gull, apparently. The only comfort I draw from this is that their wings look as if they’ve been dipped in ink, so maybe she does see me as a writer, after all. 😉

D.J. Kirkby
Reply

I get called Deej on occasion 🙂

kath
Reply

You do indeed. I think I might have called you that!

kath
Reply

The squirrels put all the names into a random name picker and the winner of a copy of Kate’s novel The Untied Kingdom is… *stamping of squirrel paws* … Catt! Congratulations to you! If you email me your home address, I’ll get a copy of the book sent off to you as soon as poss.

Thanks everyone for taking part and for sharing your nicknames with Kate!!

Catt
Reply

Thank you Kath! (and K8!) Yay to squirrel paws! I thought you had my home address already actually but I’ll drop you an email at some point today – doing a headless chicken impression, bustling about atm!

kath
Reply

You’re right, I probably do, erm… somewhere in the office! It’s not easy keeping it tidy with squirrels scampering about all over the place, though. 😉

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