Today we get to chat with Kerry Chaput, award-winning historical fiction author with a passion for adventure stories. She attempted her first story at age twelve but didn’t find the courage to pursue writing until she turned forty. With a twenty-year career in physical therapy and raised by a US History teacher, it’s no surprise she gravitated toward historical action-adventure as a genre.
After joining the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, her commitment to learning the craft of writing took on obsessive proportions, and she’s never looked back. Her debut historical Daughter of the King won a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Awards and is a finalist for the 2022 Chaucer Award for early historical fiction. It continues to top the charts in French Historical Fiction more than a year after its release. The follow-up Daughter of the Shadows, releases March 30, and the final installment of the trilogy is slated for release in March 2024. Her first young adult historical Chasing Eleanor is also in preorder, with a release date of June 15. She balance a full time job in healthcare with a family and a continued drive for her passion for storytelling. She has no plans to slow down any time soon.
You can connect with her at her website kerrywrites.com and check out her successful TikTok page @kerrywrites with weekly highlights of fascinating women from history.
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Kathleen Basi 0:00
Welcome to Author Express. Thanks for checking us out. This is the podcast where you give us 15 minutes of your time and we give you a chance to hear the voice behind the pages and get to know some of your favorite writers in a new light. I'm one of your hosts Kathleen Basi. I'm an award winning musical composer, a feature writer, essayist, and of course storyteller. Let me tell you a little bit about today's guest.
Kathleen Basi 0:28
Kerry Chaput is an award winning historical fiction author. She believes in the power of stories that highlight young women and found families. Her writing has been described as a nonstop thrill ride with the perfect mix of action, adventure and romance. Welcome, Kerry.
Kerry Chaput 0:43
Hi. Thanks for having me.
Kathleen Basi 0:46
So, tell me the most interesting thing about where you are from.
Kerry Chaput 0:50
So, I don't know about the most interesting, but it's definitely probably the most unique thing. I live in Bend, Oregon, which is in the center part of the state. And we have the very last and only blockbuster store that is still in existence.
Kathleen Basi 1:06
That was awesome. That is definitely interesting.
Kerry Chaput 1:10
I mean, it was like, what? I don't know why we're the one that like, made it. But, I've actually never been in it. I need to do that one of these days. It's still open, functioning, like, and I think we have an Airbnb that you can actually rent it out for a night and watch a movie. Live in the 90s again.
Kathleen Basi 1:30
Maybe they also filmed that scene from Captain Marvel there because it was a blockbuster. And I remember watching that and thinking, where did they find a blockbuster? Well, did they have to build one?
Kerry Chaput 1:40
Maybe they just used ours?
Kathleen Basi 1:43
I'll bet they did. Okay, so, let's find out a little bit more about you. And get to know you better.
Kerry Chaput 1:48
Kathleen Basi 1:49
if you could live anywhere in the world, or since you're a historical author, I would say when, where would you live and why?
Kerry Chaput 1:57
Well, where I would live is the UK. That's always been my dream, actually to retire there. I don't know. We'll see if that happens. But my dad was born in Scotland. And there's a very strong connection to that part of the world. We tried to go back to visit every few years. And I just, I don't know, kind of like, I'm home when I'm there. And, I love the food, I love the people, I love the cities and the history. And, of course, obviously, the history. But time period wise, people ask me that all the time. Like, if you could go back to any time period, where would you go? And I would say all of them. And I'm fascinated by all of them. Probably not like, medieval or way back. Because that's like, some crazy stuff that was happening back there.
Kathleen Basi 2:41
Yeah, that's a little too scary.
Kerry Chaput 2:43e, I love anything from like,:
Kathleen Basi 2:57
That's fun. And, you know, I keep hearing over the years, we've heard that food is not good in England. But now, I'm hearing that that's not actually true. So, it makes me deeply curious.
Kerry Chaput 3:07
It's very different. You know, it's lots of like, meat and potatoes. And it's a different kind of fare. But, yeah, I guess if you go out of the main areas and into like, the small restaurants and the family owned restaurants, it is so good. It's like, the best potatoes you've ever had in your life. And Edinburgh where my family is from has the best fish and chips I've ever tasted in my entire life. So, why would you disagree with that. We just, there's not a lot of spices except for in London, they really love curry so the best of all possible Indian food there. So, yeah, I wouldn't disagree with that.
Kathleen Basi 3:40
Well, that's good to know. Because I would, I really am a food person. I married into an Italian family. And so, it's all about the food
Kerry Chaput 3:48
Kathleen Basi 3:49
Yes. Right, right. So, let's keep on the subject of dinners and food. So, love it. If you could have, if you could have dinner with any four people alive or dead, who would it be? What would you chat about? And it's the question is, what would you have for dessert? But since we're talking about food, I'll leave the question open.
Kerry Chaput 4:06
Do you say, four people?
Kathleen Basi 4:08
Kerry Chaput 4:08
Oh, geez. That's pressure, Kathleen. Well, the number one would be Eleanor Roosevelt. Absolutely. She's always my top answer. She's my favorite historical figure. She's so underrated. And she's contributed so much to our society that especially for women's rights, and children's rights that we don't realize started with her. So, I would chat with her about what it was like to be controversial at the time, the FBI had taken out a whole list of people watching her to make sure that she wasn't communist and all that. She was very controversial at the time, but she was so mild mannered and quiet and careful with her words. I love that. That she wasn't outwardly in people's faces trying to make change. She was doing it quietly just in her own way. And so, I would ask her about that. What it would be like to do that, and then
Kathleen Basi 5:01
I think I would like to ask that question too, because, you know, there's so much that we, there's so much anger right now. And yeah, how do you deal with things that need to be changed without being angry, I like, I really liked that.
Kerry Chaput 5:11
It is really hard, because I have definitely dipped into that anger at times too. But it's so overwhelming and it's not productive. And she channeled that. She took all of that negative energy towards her, and she got stronger and stronger, and actually her more influential years or after her husband died.
Kathleen Basi 5:31
Hmm, you know, that's such a good answer, I'm going to give you a pass on the other.
Kerry Chaput 5:35
Oh, thank goodness.
Kathleen Basi 5:35
Okay, let's move into talking about your book that's coming out, Daughter of the Shadows, great, this is coming out when again?
Kerry Chaput 5:45
The 30th of this month. March 30.
Kathleen Basi 5:47
30th of March. And this is part of a series, correct?
Kerry Chaput 5:50
It is. It is the second in a trilogy.
Kathleen Basi 5:52
Very good. So, tell us where the book is set. And what's particularly important about that.
Kerry Chaput 5:57
It is set in 17th century Quebec and France. And the story, as I said, is the second in the series, the first one, Daughter of the King, started in France. And it's based on the true story of the French orphans, that the king paid to move to Canada to help with the population problem. And it really is an incredible story in history that I didn't know about until I started researching. And these women were given unprecedented power at the time. So, they went from extreme poverty and France, and given this brand new life in Canada, and not only were they, they were paid, they were given a farm. They were paid passage. Protection by the king, but they were allowed to interview and choose the husbands. The husbands were not choosing though. Yeah, so it's like, oh, I need to write about this. And at the time, which was really neat, the king allowed them to get married by a notary, not in the church, and so, they could break their marriage contracts if they want to. So, for the time, for 17th century, like, I could not believe these women have this amount of power. And so, if you're French-Canadian, they say you're almost guaranteed to be descended from one of these 800 women. So, that's why it goes from France to Canada, and in the first book, so, my main character, Isabel, she's Protestant, and in order to get this opportunity, and to save her life, she has to convert to Catholicism. And, you know, she had a really, really hard life as a Protestant. And so, the question now becomes, can you really ever change who you are, and your beliefs and your faith? And so, in Book Two, she has made some choices and is dealing with the repercussions of that. And so, she is now married, and she has to basically turn spy against her deceitful Catholic husband in order to save her people back in France.
Kathleen Basi 7:44
Wow, that sounds fascinating.
Kerry Chaput 7:46
It was fun to research.
Kathleen Basi 7:48
So, did you always envision this story? Like, was this always a trilogy? Was this always part of it?
Kerry Chaput 7:55
I think so. I remember, Daughter of the King was only the second book I ever wrote. So, I rewrote it. I don't know, 12 times. Right? Right. So, over the course of that, the whole time, part of the problem was I felt like, I couldn't get all of this information into one book. It's just such a huge story. So, I always hoped that I would get the opportunity to keep going with it. And then my publisher offered me the series. And I said, Great, let's do it. And so, now, I am about halfway done with the rough draft of Book Three.
Kathleen Basi 8:26
That's very exciting. This all sounds very fascinating.
Kerry Chaput 8:29
Thanks. Yeah. Like I said, it was a wild ride to research.
Kathleen Basi 8:33
Yeah, I bet. I could go down the research question rabbit hole. But let's talk a little bit about writing process in general.
Kerry Chaput 8:39
Kathleen Basi 8:40
Let's ask, what piece of advice do you think has been the most helpful to you in your writing journey?
Kerry Chaput 8:45
I had a writing teacher who said, no writing is ever wasted. And I think about that almost every day. I'm a pantser. I just write very intuitively. Almost 100% just rely on intuition. I read all the crafts books, I do that, but I let that sit in the back of my brain, so that when I'm doing these rough drafts, I could just let the story fly and go as wild as I possibly can. I'm one of the few people who actually has to pull back the story because it's too big and too much. And so, I love that because he kind of gave me license to write the wrong thing. And let it be okay. Even if you erase it, it gets me where I need to go in my head and the story.
Kathleen Basi 9:25
Kerry Chaput 9:25
So, I frequently erase my work. I have rewritten entire manuscripts twice. And I don't mind it. I feel like, that advice allowed me to not be afraid to pursue this story.
Kathleen Basi 9:38
That's really amazing. So, when you look at that, do you see that as like, you erase it, but you keep the file somewhere and then go back to it and say, maybe someday I'll pull this out? Or is it just the fact that it's not wasted in terms of, it was part of the journey to get you where you needed to go?
Kerry Chaput 9:53
Probably the second part, I mean, the manuscripts that I have rewritten, I have been able to save parts of it that I really loved or segments that you wrote and I'm like, that's really beautiful, I'm gonna keep that. But the majority of those words that I have had to rewrite have sat in a folder and I've never looked at them again.Kathleen Basi:
Right. Yeah, I always see that too. I put a bunch of stuff in an orphans folder, and then it just sits there.Kerry Chaput:
It's pretty nice to know that it's there. But honestly, you know how you grow as a writer with every book. If I went back and read that now, I'd probably cringe, I don't really want to read it.Kerry Chaput:
So, how many books do you have published now?Kerry Chaput:
I have 1, 2, 3. This will be my fourth. Daughter in the Shadows.Kathleen Basi:
Okay, so, you have enough to call it a genuine bona fide writing career now. So,Kerry Chaput:
I love it. Thank you for that.Kathleen Basi:
What has surprised you the most about your writing career?Kerry Chaput:
Honestly, I think the career itself is just barely starting. And I'm learning every day about the industry and it changes so much. But I think the most that I've learned is about myself. And I didn't start writing until I was 40. I didn't even have the courage to do it even though I've always wanted to. And so, I've surprised myself at how I've been able to push forward with this dream that I've had and like, not give up or not slow down, I just keep pushing harder. And you get used to rejections, and I am the most sensitive person ever. So, getting comfortable with that has been a huge growing thing for me. And then you start realizing like, Okay, I don't have the giant publishing contract yet. But you know what, I've got four rights deals, I've got audiobooks, I've got awards, like, you start building up these little pieces along your journey that really fill your confidence, and it pushes you forward. And so, I've been surprised at how some of the, quote and quote, smaller advancements and achievements have totally brightened my interest in continuing to do this for the rest of my life.Kathleen Basi:
So, where's the best place for folks to find you if they want to learn more?Kerry Chaput:
My website is great for that. It's kerrywrites.com. I have two blogs. One is just my normal writer type blog. And then I also have a second blog, which features interesting women from history. And so, I do little stories on them, which is also on my TikTok page, which is Kerry writes, as well.Kathleen Basi:
And Kerry, so that's K-E-R-R-Y. Writes, W-R-I-T-E-S.Kerry Chaput:
So, kerrywrites.com.Kerry Chaput:
Okay, very good. All right, well, let's take it to out. Let's finish up today by asking you, what book or story inspires you the most? Just at this point in time.Kerry Chaput:
At this point in time, still, the book that I just adore so much is the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I finished that, you know, however, many years ago. I finished it, I mean, I'd stayed up into the night reading, which I don't stay up for late for anything, but I could not. But I stood into the night just crying reading this book going and this is the most amazing story. I think she's an incredible storyteller, but then also, you know, I write action adventure historicals. And so, I want to be inspired. I want to be pushed kind of to the limits of what we are capable of as women. And she did that in the Nightingale and I finished that book. And I thought, I want to do something inspiring with my life. It actually helped me push forward as a writer, that book.Kathleen Basi:
Wow, that's very cool.Kerry Chaput:
Yeah, I think it's amazing reading, if anyone hasn't read it yet. They should.Kathleen Basi:
Yeah, I know. I know. It's, it is great book. Well, that's very good. I'm also inspired by Kristin Hannah because she manages to do so many different time periods.Kerry Chaput:
And her career has been so long and she is just getting stronger.Kathleen Basi:
Yeah, wow, she's amazing. It gives us all hope.Kerry Chaput:
It gives us all hope. And we all need that.Kathleen Basi:
Well, thank you so much for being with us today, Kerry.Kerry Chaput:
Thank you for having me.Kathleen Basi:
Thanks for joining us today. We hope you'll take a second to give us some stars or a review on your favorite podcasting platform. We'll be back next Wednesday. And in the meantime, follow us on Instagram, at Author Express podcast to see who's coming up next. Don't forget, keep it express, but keep it interesting.