Author Interview — Kathleen Denly

17 Feb

Please welcome historical romance author Kathleen Denly to By The Book! Kathleen’s latest novel, Harmony on The Horizon is now available. Find all the details below including a fabulous giveaway! (US residents only.)

Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

I always struggle with how to answer this question, because in hindsight I can see the beginnings of my life as a writer way back in elementary school. However, I didn’t start thnking of myself as a writer until I was in high school. During my freshman year of high school, I awoke around four in the morning with a novel premise running through my head. I’d never before considered writing anything more than short stories for fun. Yet, I didn’t question it. I just grabbed the notebook from my nightstand and jotted down my ideas. The next day after school, I started typing out my story. Not knowing any better, I just wrote free flow as things came to me. When my family went on a road trip, I switched to writing long-hand in pencil on legal pads. I think I filled four of them before we got back two weeks later. I worked on that same story off and on for about eight years before deciding it was garbage I would never want to publish and deleting or shredding every word of it. Many writers gasp when I confess this, but I have no regrets. 

Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

There were many people in my life who praised my skill with the written word, and one of my high school English teachers would read my “fun” writing while I helped grade his students’ paper during my stint as his Teacher’s Assistant. But no one really encouraged me to pursue my writing seriously until I got married. My husband has been my biggest advocate and supporter. He’ll act out action scenes with me, watch the kids while I’m at a writers conference, and plan vacation trips around my research bucket list. But to this day he hasn’t read any of my novels. In fact, he doesn’t really read much and when he does it’s only ever nonfiction. Talk about ironic.

Why did you choose the historical romance genre?

I didn’t actually make a conscious choice to pursue this genre. I began writing my first historical romance after attending a creative writing class that sparked the idea for the premise. Over the course of writing that novel, I learned more about the industry—namely that you’re better off sticking to one genre as a new author. So when I decided to write a second novel, historical romance made sense. By the time I reached a pitch session with an agent who asked if I would consider writing contemporary romance because the market was better for those, I knew it just wasn’t where God was calling me. I may still write one of those in the future, but for now, I’m loving historical romance. 

Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication?

As a homeschooling mother of four it’s difficult to find quiet time to write. When I first started, my husband was working three jobs to make ends meet and there were still days I couldn’t afford the gas to drive the three miles to our closest library. However, God is good and He made a way for me to obey His calling to share His truth through story.

What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc.

I do it all. I start online, of course. Then I move to books and historical archives. Then I visit as many locations as I can. Lastly, I’ll take on as many hands-on projects as I can manage to get a true sense of the lives my characters live. For example, I have woven yucca fibers, made tallow candles, learned to smoke meat, died fabric with plant materials, pumped water from an old-fashioned well pump, washed my clothes on a washboard using lye soap, shucked dried corn for seeds, made my own quill pens, attempted calligraphy, used wax seals, and so much more. For me, research is half the fun of writing historical fiction.

What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

This is an ever-changing thing for me. I am always learning from my mistakes and trying to do better with managing my time. Recently, I instituted a new rule that I will only respond to emails on Fridays and keep my social media interactions confined to specific morning, lunch break, and evening time slots. This has allowed me to block out distractions during my writing hours which take up the bulk of most days. I hate schedules with time slots and much prefer simple to-do lists. However, I have discovered that a compromise is what works best to keep my life balanced.

How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

The birth of an idea usually comes weeks or even months before the research and outline stage. The research and outline stage takes about one to two months. Then it takes me somewhere around three months to actually write my first draft. Then come beta readers followed by a few weeks of self edits and then, of course, I go through my publisher’s edits. All told, it’s about a two year process between committing to writing an idea and actually releasing the book.

Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel?

Harmony on the Horizon was inspired by a field trip I took with my kids to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. During that trip a docent lead us into the Mason Street Schoolhouse and shared the story of the “Mary Walker Scandal.” She was the first teacher to teach in that schoolhouse and, by choosing the “wrong” person to dine with, created a scandal that put pressure on the members of the board to fire her. Long story short, she wound up marrying one of those members. Once I heard the story, I knew I wanted to fictionalize it. My story is not meant to represent the true historical people, but it does, in part, follow the true events of that scandal. 

aWhat do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels

I hope that readers will come away from my stories feeling entertained, encouraged, and inspired. I hope that they will have a new or refreshed perspective of who God is and how He sees us. And, of course, I hope that they will be eager to read more of my stories. 😉 

Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

I recently completed the first draft of a new novella for my Chaparral Hearts series. Members of my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club will have an opportunity to claim a free copy of this story when it releases in fall of 2022. Right now, I’m working on my fourth full-length novel for the same series which will release in 2023. I’m especially excited about this novel because it’s set in a part of San Diego County where I haven’t yet taken readers and it involves a true gang of banditos that terrorized California in the 1870s. The heroine, Biddie Davidson, is also a character whom fans will recognize from previous novels in the series. I’m excited to show how she’s grown up and the adventures she experiences when she reconnects with people from her past.

Thanks so much, Kathleen, for sharing with us today! Discover more about Kathleen, Harmony on The Horizon, and her great giveaway below.


Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at

Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, one dog, and nine cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Newsletter | FB Author Page | FB Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub | Amazon

GIVEAWAY (US residents only)

• Mini Junk Journal – Prink & Green
• PIN – Sleep Less Read More
• Sing in the Sunlight Bookmark (not pictured)
• Harmony on the Horizon Sticker
• 1 ebook copy of either Waltz in the Wilderness or Sing in the Sunlight

Leave a comment to enter. A winner will be randomly chosen by February 28, 2022. Good luck!

3 Responses to “Author Interview — Kathleen Denly”

  1. Suzanne Sellner February 17, 2022 at 10:12 am #

    I love reading about school teachers since I’m a retired educator. Also, I loved reading about your adopting/fostering children and including characters like them in your books, since I both fostered and adopted. We must have a lot in common.

    • Kathleen Denly February 19, 2022 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi Suzanne,
      So glad you enjoyed the interview. It does seem like we have a lot in common. 😀 I hope you read and enjoy Harmony on the Horizon.

  2. Jeanna Massman February 18, 2022 at 2:31 pm #

    It makes me so happy to discover new books and authors!📚🥰 Having the opportunity to enter a contest is the icing on the cake!🍰

Comments are closed.