Kait Nolan is the author of the Wishful Romance series, including the novel To Get Me to You, available here.
N.B.: Do you have a personal connection to the small town, Southern way of life you portray in your novel?
K.N.: Well, I'm Mississippi born and bred. Other than a brief stint in Europe, I've lived here all my life. While I've never lived in a town quite as small as Wishful, I've definitely worked in a few. We have a saying down here that Mississippi is one giant small town, so in that sense, I absolutely have a personal connection to the small town Southern way of life.
The protagonist, Norah, places a lot of value on being a great, highly successful worker. Is she right to seek a sense of purpose and identity in working? Or does she ultimately learn from small town Wishful that there is value in play as well?
I don't know as it's a question of right or wrong, but it is absolutely a reality. MOST people seek a sense of purpose and identity in work, particularly in America. People here talk about working a 60 hour week as if it's a badge of honor. In most parts of the country, if you meet somebody new, the first question they'll ask is "Oh, what do you do?" It is expected that you define yourself like that. One thing I truly love about the South is that down here, it's a lot more common for the first question to be, "Where are you from?" Which also inevitably often leads to a detailed discussion of "Who are your people?" (something I discovered is also true in Scotland and Ireland, where I spent some time). In any event, one of the big lessons Norah learns from her time in Wishful is that life is all about balance.
What does Norah mean when she says she loves that “Wishful was a place where they understood that family was more than blood”? Do small Southern towns share a congeniality and camaraderie with friends, which other places would reserve for blood relatives?
This one is a bit of an assumption on my part. So, down here in the South, if your blood uncle marries a woman, that woman is considered your aunt (and depending on the level of affection, may remain so, even in a case of divorce). I grew up calling my best friends' parents aunt and uncle. Same with some of my parents' closest friends. We tend to have a rather more flexible definition of family than a lot of other places. I've got friends from north of the Mason-Dixon who'd just call their uncle's wife...well, their uncle's wife. They wouldn't claim her as an actual relative in the same way.
Norah’s friend Miranda asks “What kind of woman puts her own ambitions ahead of what’s supposed to be the most important relationship in her life?” Norah thinks, “A woman who wants more out of life than being a wife and mother, trapped in a small town that doesn’t support her career choices.” These are two very divergent views on a woman’s priorities. Does Norah’s eventual settling down with Cam represent a middle ground between these two views?
I think this is always a contentious topic. If you're an ambitious woman, it is very difficult to pursue those ambitions successfully, while also having a spouse and family (at least while managing to stay sane). Modern culture would like to make us think that we can have it all, but we really can't, not in any healthy manner (due to those 60 hour weeks we mentioned earlier). The key to making it work is having a PARTNER who believes in and supports you on all fronts, which is what Cam is meant to be for her.
Norah refers to the big box store GrandGoods as waging a war against the Wishful way of life. Is this an exaggeration, or are we seeing these kinds of companies actually waging war around the country, in terms of destruction of quality of life?
I actually did an enormous amount of research on this topic while writing To Get Me To You (and good lord, you have no idea how much I cut back out to try to keep from boring readers!). This isn't an exaggeration. All the statistics and facts I mention in the book are actually real. The arguments big business makes vs. their true impacts on the communities they enter are all legitimate concerns. Those who are interested can find a ton of great information at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Norah’s rural tourism idea offers nostalgia about small towns, helping people remember their connections to other people and to nature. Can this idea really compete with the money brought in by large businesses? Is there hope for preserving rural areas from seemingly inevitable development?
Again, this came from actual research. The plan Norah proposes in the book is one that other rural towns around the country have successfully executed. But it's not something that can be pulled off without massive team effort. A great resource on the topic of rural tourism is RuralTourismMarketing.com. The community itself has to be behind it and the stakeholders in those communities have to be properly educated about the true COSTS associated with big box stores so that they understand the bigger picture and can make an informed decision.
Norah feels disappointed that Cam did not fight for her, did not question the evidence of her intending to desert him, and allowed his opinion of her to so easily change. On the other hand, at the same time Cam feels disappointed that Norah did not say a word to contradict his thinking she was going to leave him for the city. What keeps them from seeing the other had legitimate reasons for appearing as they did, and instead leads them towards disappointment?
That's the nature of the Black Moment in romance, sugar. :) People are too caught up in their own hurts to be rational. If they immediately sat down and discussed things like mature adults, the book would be over 25% sooner and wouldn't be nearly as satisfying. Plus, when high emotion is involved, people seldom behave rationally.
You have written an entire Wishful series, over a half dozen novels, about the characters and places in this small Southern town. What about this setting and these characters enabled you to write so many full-length novels?
I love this town and I love these characters. I've got at least a dozen or more books planned in the series (probably more because, God knows, nobody shows up and stays single for long in my head). A central theme to the series is this idea of bringing hope back to life. Norah starts it and with each successive book, a little bit more comes back to town as each new couple finds love and true, supportive partnership. I think the world can always do with more hope, so I'll keep writing the stories and putting that out into the Universe.