Interview & Giveaway: The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting the lovely Kate Braithwaite today! Kate is currently on blog tour for The Road to Newgate (which I loved), and she is stopping by today to answer a few questions!

You can read my review of The Road to Newgate here.

I hope you enjoy the interview & don't forget to enter our giveaway!

Hello Kate and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Road to Newgate!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Hi! I am originally from Scotland but now live in the Brandywine Valley in Pennsylvania. I have three teenage kids, a husband who travels and runs, two dogs and a cat, so life is busy! I’ve written 3 historical novels each of which focuses on a person or story in history that I’ve stumbled across and thought would be just the kind of thing I’d love to read a novel about. I’ve been a bookworm all my life and writing novels is even more fun (although more challenging!) than reading them.

What inspired you to write The Road to Newgate?

I came across Titus Oates while I was researching my first novel Charlatan. It’s set in Paris in and around 1678, but while the court at Versailles was consumed with the Affair of the Poisons I write about in Charlatan, across the Channel in London, a very different story was unfolding. Titus Oates, an impoverished preacher, became an overnight success when he claimed to have proof of an extensive Popish Plot to assassinate Charles I. Titus is a fabulous villain, one of the most infamous liars in history, but the truth behind his lies was ruthlessly pursued by a journalist. The story of that man, and his wife, Anne, became the story I tell in the novel.

What research did you undertake when writing The Road to Newgate?

My research falls into two categories. First there is the historical record which informs so much of the plot. I read up on the Popish Plot in general and the life of Titus Oates in particular. The complete story of the Popish Plot is far too complex to lay out in a novel so it’s an edited version that appears in The Road to Newgate. Where I did very happily use as much historical detail as possible was in the trials that occur throughout the story. Transcripts of all of the trials that took place are available online. Reading them is an amazing experience – the back and forth between judges and witnesses really brings the past to life. Titus Oates’ whining, and the judges’ bigotry that feature in the novel, come directly from the historical record.

Then there is the research that brings 17th Century London to life. I read multiple books on Restoration London and used the Ogilby and Morgan map of London in 1676 extensively to track my characters movements. I learned a lot about Newgate prison as it’s a recurring setting for key parts of the story. And although there is a political plotline and a detective story going on, The Road to Newgate is also the story of a marriage. I did a lot of research about domestic life in the 17th Century including about the role of women, midwifery, superstitions, food, funerals, housing and fashion.

What was your favorite scene to write?

One of my favorite scenes to write takes place when Nat and his friend go to watch a bull-baiting. I have a couple of dog loving friends who have taken me to task over it! It is a bit gritty, but what I love about it, is the back and forth between the bull and the dog going on while a really important conversation is happening for my character Nat. There is also symbolic significance (for me anyway!) between the bull and the dog and Titus Oates and Nat. So I love that it is an active scene, also a historically realistic scene, and that it’s a key scene for Nat’s character arc.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Some of the scenes were difficult because they were emotional, particularly around Nat and Anne’s baby – but the scene that took me the longest to get right is near the end of the novel when Nat tracks down Sir Edmund Godfrey’s manservant and learns the truth about the magistrate’s death. It’s a fight scene of sorts but I only had a short space of time to introduce the manservant, Moor, and his wife and I wanted to make them convincing and believable. Nat too, is not really a fighter. He fights with words far more than his fists. In this scene, he had to push himself, and maybe that’s why I also had to really push myself to get that section working.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always did. Or I always thought I would write a novel. I’ve always read voraciously and wanted to be able to create something in this form that I have so much love for.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

When I am writing a draft, I get up, get the kids off to school and go straight to my desk. I can manage two to three hours like that before I run out of steam. I try to stop at a point where I know what is going to happen next so that I can get right back at it the next day. When I’m editing, I take a bit more time before getting to it. The house is usually tidier and more organized at this point! Other bits and bobs of writing – book reviews, interviews, blog posts etc – I quite often write in the kitchen with the radio on. At times like that I don’t mind if people are at home and I can drop in and out of writing to check my email, twitter etc. But if I’m actually writing a novel, I need an empty house and silence. It’s usually just me, one dog on her bed, one on the armchair and the cat on the desk.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

So many things! To begin with I had the problem, that I think many people have, that if I wrote something and it wasn’t immediately Pulitzer prize worthy material, I got disheartened and stopped. It wasn’t until I had children that I realized I had to get over myself and just get writing! Beyond that, I found that even though I’d read widely all my life and studied English at University, I had a lot to learn about novel writing. Over time, I’ve become someone who outlines and I’m a lot better at spotting my own writing weaknesses. At least I hope so!

Who are your writing inspirations?

Such a tricky question. I really admire a lot of writers – Sarah Waters, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, John Fowles, Paul Auster, Gabrielle Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami. They’ve all written novels that have surprised and wowed me. I’d love to write a novel that really sucks readers in – that you can’t wait to finish but don’t want to end. I often find that in crime novels and love writers like Ian Rankin, Minette Walters and Michael Connelly for their ability to grip me.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I’m going to say ‘Uneasy Lies the Head’ by Jean Plaidy although I can’t remember a thing about it. The first historical novel I can really remember in detail, as well as the impact it had on me, is The Sunne in Splendour, by Sharon Penman. As a teen, I read every Georgette Heyer regency novel. Love them.

What is the last historical novel you read?

A Well-Behaved Woman: A novel of the Vanderbilts, by Therese Anne Fowler. I loved it and her earlier novel, Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. She writes brilliantly and brings her characters and their world to life so well.

What are three things people may not know about you?

Um. I am not terribly interesting I don’t think! Three historical-ish things spring to mind:

When I was sixteen I had a hamster called Richard III, the last Plantagenet King

Until I was six I lived in a council house opposite Holyrood Palace and walked past it every day

My children are all named after characters in Georgette Heyer novels.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the escapism of the past. And all the sounds and smells and different ways of living. Whether reading or writing, I love the way historical fiction engages my imagination. I also really think history has a lot to teach us about the present – not in a didactic, hit me over the head way – but in the way people do - and do not change - as the centuries slip by.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I am pretty open to anything from the medieval period onwards. I like storylines with strong women and aspects of history that I don’t know too much about. Anything with a crime or family secrets appeals to me greatly.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I spend a lot of time at kid’s sports events and hanging out with family and friends. I’m trying to love exercise more this year! I also spend a fair amount of time on facetime with my mum back in Scotland. I like to get back to the UK once or twice a year. I’m a fan of movies as well as reading books. Recent favorites include The Favourite about Queen Anne, and Vice. Christian Bale is amazing in that film.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I have just finished The Girl Puzzle, a novel of Nellie Bly and it’s with my editor. It’s a fictional biography of Nellie at two key times in her life – one when she is twenty-three and desperate to write for a big New York newspaper, and later in her fifties, when she takes a child from a New York Orphan asylum, telling her “I’m kidnapping you today.” It’s due for release by Crooked Cat Books in April 2019.

I am so excited for The Girl Puzzle! Thank you for taking time to stop by today! 

The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

Publication Date: July 16, 2018
Crooked Cat Books
Paperback & eBook; 280 Pages

Genre: Historical/Mystery

What price justice?

London 1678.

Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.

Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.

When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.

"Moved me greatly and brought tears to my eyes. Gripping, moving and brilliantly captures this tense and sometimes brutal episode in late seventeenth-century English history." -Andrea Zuvich, Author & Historian

"A real pleasure to read," -Denis Bock, author of The Ash Garden & The Communist's Daughter

"Meticulously researched, vividly imagined, and deftly plotted. Rich, resonating and relevant." -Catherine Hokin, author of Blood & Roses, the story of Margaret of Anjou.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but has lived in various parts of the UK, in Canada and the US. Her first novel, CHARLATAN, was long-listed for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Novel Award in 2015. Her next book, THE ROAD TO NEWGATE was released on July 16, 2018.

Kate and her family live in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

For more information, please visit Kate's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, January 10
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, January 11
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, January 14
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Tuesday, January 15
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, January 16
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, January 17
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, January 18
Feature at The Writing Desk
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, January 21
Review at Bookish Rantings

Tuesday, January 22
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, January 23
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, January 25
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at A Darn Good Read


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Road to Newgate! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Road to Newgate

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