05 January 2010

In Remembrance of Kathleen Givens

By Sandra Schwab

[We're taking a break from this month's theme to remember Kathleen Givens. Thank you for your consideration. -- Carrie]

When I came home from a belated New Year's party on Saturday night, horrible news were waiting for me: my dear friend Kathleen Givens had died suddenly and unexpectedly.

I "met" Kathleen for the first time when I bought her first novel, Kilgannon, almost exactly ten years ago, on 7 January 2000. One of the Ladies of Lallybroch (from the Diana Gabaldon message board) had recommended it to me--and she was absolutely right: I loved the story to pieces. Moreover, it was one of the first romances I read as romance fiction (I had read Victoria Holt and Penelope Williamson before, but had thought them historical novels), and I still remember how thrilled I was to have found a genre of historical fiction where heroines are strong and happy endings are guaranteed. And so Kilgannon became one of the books that inspired me to write my first romance novel.

In 2005 I was working on a paper on the depiction of Scotland in American romance novels and decided to use Kilgannon as my main example. I contacted Kathleen and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the book.

Then, a year later, I finally met her in person when she came to Germany to attend the Booklovers' Conference in Wiesbaden. For me as a reader it is always so very thrilling to find out that an author whose works I like is just as nice herself. And Kathleen was nice. She was one of the sweetest, loveliest people I know. She was so gracious and generous and always classy. In 2007 she returned to Wiesbaden and I took the chance to drag her around the German countryside to show her old Roman forts and not-quite-so-old castles. I will always cherish the memory of these days. We had such a wonderful time together.

Among my most vivid memories of Kathleen are those of her and her husband. They made such a great team--you could feel that a very strong bond connected them. My heart breaks for her family when I think of what they must be going through right now.

I still can't believe that she is gone. She was a great author and a wonderful person, and I will miss her very much. Goodbye, Kath.