Friday, 12 October 2012

The Class of '85 and Kat Henry Doran

Today, I'm delighted to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author-Kat Henry Doran- who writes about how collaboration between writers can produce wonderfully realistic settings for a series of novels.  

And...she's offering a tote bag to one lucky person who leaves a comment today! If you're interested don't forget to leave an email address. 
To view the tote please go to:
(apologies for their being a wrong linlk yesterday- the above one should work)

The Class of '85   from The Wild Rose Press:

Create a Realistic Setting by Kat Henry Doran

Several years ago, using the RIFLE [Realistic, Interesting, Fun, Logical, Entertaining] Approach, four romance writers came together and created a four story contemporary anthology, targeting the Wild Rose Press. The overall concept was based on five friends from high school who return to their hometown after twenty years when one of the five dies suddenly and leaves each survivor a legacy. Each novella focused on one of the four men.

The task then came down to 'inventing' the setting. Since three of four authors live in Western New York, we decided to make that our “World”. Each of us took a season and used the weather and the lake [that's Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes] as background flavoring. 

To invent the “City/Town”, one of the authors explored a unique neighborhood in the city of Rochester, took photographs and brought them to the other three and soon Summerville was born―on paper anyway. Though the anthology never came to fruition, the concept morphed into The Class of '85, a reunion series for the Last Rose of Summer line at The Wild Rose Press.

As senior editor [as well as one of the four originating authors] for the series, it came to me to lay the groundwork and either invent or expanded upon the social and political infra-structure of the town, further enhancing the “City/Town”.

As stories were contracted, the contributing authors tweaked the city/town into “The Hood” and then took it one step further to refine “The Set”. The inhabitants, primary and secondary were born and are unique to their individual needs and plot lines. The first 'alum' to make the reunion, “Getting It Right” was released in August 2010. By the Fall of 2011, twenty four stories were released. 

Here's how creating a setting that speaks to readers worked for us and hopefully will work for you:

The World: Summerville, a town of 25,000, sits on a bluff over-looking Lake Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes. Water sports are a popular outdoor activity. The area is a busy assignment for the Immigration and Naturalization Service as well as the Coast Guard and County Sheriff's Marine Unit, preventing illegal entry via the lake from Canada, drug trafficking and alcohol related marine incidents. A large transient migrant population in the region who work large farming operations make the area a hotbed for activists and illegal immigration―both in the past [for some of the characters] and current law enforcement personnel. 

The City/Town deserved extra added attractions so we invented Summerville College, inaccurately termed 'the U' by locals. A co-ed, liberal arts school, it is known for its NCAA division I champion men’s lacrosse team. The town has a full service hospital which is code red most nights [the ER is full and can only accept chest or head trauma.] It's in desperate need of urgent care centers to cut down on bottlenecks in the ER and to put an end to patients using the ER's for a doctor's office. 

For the sports nuts we offer the Hornets, a triple A baseball team, part of the Orioles system, and just as [un]successful and the Red Barons, part of the Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey system. 

Local law enforcement is covered by the Summerville Police Department, headed by the former school bully. One of his former victims is now the County Sheriff. A former bad boy now advocates for victims of school bullies and non-responsive school systems. Note the over-use of the word ‘former’. Hmm.  As an editor, I’m cringing as I read this.

Arts and entertainment are supplied locally with annual fine arts and artisans shows or by a thirty minute drive to Rochester which offers a symphony, several major museums and the Eastman School of Music.

The contributing authors also supplied “The Hood” by way of Down The Hill,  Summerville's version of a slum, and Pill Hill and Castle Row, where the elite reside and never the twain do meet.

For “The Set”, where individual scenes take place one of the authors took a photograph of a local landmark and turned it into the Summerville Inn which is the setting for several of the reunion stories, one of which involves pre-reunion renovations, a reunion dance, and an elite awards dinner. A couple authors took a real-life former [there’s that word again!] orphanage located in Syracuse New York, renamed it, then picked it up and dropped it into Summerville. Hey, it worked.   

World/Town/Hood inhabitants include:

Two prime time network news anchors/reporters
A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for photographic journalism
A retired rock star
A world famous fashion photographer
Several members of local law enforcement
A modeling agent known for large size and 'mature' models, male and female
A mega-millionaire computer geek, ala Bill Gates
A philanthropist [now deceased] whose legacy continues to benefit the community
A con man
A retired major league baseball player, now coaching the Hornets triple A team

It is clear when imaginative people come together, any number of wonderful things can happen, including the creation of interesting, fascinating, unforgettable settings. 

About Kat Henry Doran:
Over the years I've had the honor to work at a number of occupations: operating room nurse, malpractice insurance investigator, forensic nurse examiner, victim advocate, wife and mother. Five years ago I became Nana for the first time and, believe me, it’s the best job ever!

Even if I sometimes wish they'd remain in the closet, the years I spent in the OR and labor floor, and later advocating for victims of sexual violence, contribute significantly to the voice of my writing. You don’t  spend thirty years playing loyal serving maid and mind reader to egotistical surgeons, then twelve years haunting police stations, Emergency Rooms, and criminal courts without developing an internal alarm system for covert misogyny, rampant apathy, and overwhelming bigotry. 

I retired my stethoscope and speculum a few years ago but continue to advocate quietly for marginalized populations through Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders.
I like hearing from readers. 

You can contact me through:

my website-
or blog- 

Thank you so much for coming and explaining that, today, Kat. Like me I'm sure other writers wonder how a series like this comes together.  Best wishes with sales of 'the Class of '85' series.



  1. What a fantastic post!! As a contributing author to the Class of '85, I have to say I LOVED writing two new characters for this established setting and premise. The authors I 'met' and conversed with while writing were encouraging, fun and excited to be a part of such a fantastic project. Many of them have become firm friends of mine.
    This post was truly enlightening...and inspiring - thanks, Kat for bringing us Summerville and being such a wonderful editor :D

    Rachel x

  2. Hi Rachel! It is a wonderful series and I've really appreciated learning how it came to be.

  3. Another Reunion author here! This series was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I've participated in. I loved adding to the "legend and lore" of Summerville with my four characters. I fondly refer to Kat as Ms. Editor 2.0 because she's the "updated" version. ;) She worked so hard, along with the original authors, to give the rest of us a firm foundation from which to work. This is a terrific series with a wide variety of stories. If y'all haven't read it, do it! Now! You won't regret it.

  4. Yet another Class of '85 author here. I was fortunate to have three stories contracted for the series. And had a blast the entire time. Many of us did become friends, which was one of the nicest results. I especially enjoyed the process of feeding off of each other to come up with characters, settings and events and, as always, working with our editor extraordinaire. As Silver says, if you haven't already, look into these stories and, do it now!

  5. Me, too. LOL we are having a reunion of the reunion authors!

    But they are all right, it was such a wonderful series to write for.

    I love working other authors' characters into stories--it makes me feel connected to the writing circles when you actually work by yourself in another country LOL.

  6. Wow, those are some great ideas for keeping all the authors on the same page for the setting. (I love the conflict of the police chief bully and his bully the sheriff.) My romance series features a fictional town, too, and I'm wondering if in all your years of writing you've ever encountered readers who don't like fictional towns and settings. Or do you think they might prefer a fictional town they can imagine all on their own without being confined to the realities of an actual place?

  7. I adored writing for this series and making lasting friendships with the other authors. Seein my characters mentioned in other writer's books and including their characters in mine was such a kick. Kat was great at keeping the whole series together and flowing smoothly. A big piece of that was setting the stage ahead of time. Thanks for the memories, ladies!

  8. Hello to Silver, Margo, Stacy, Lisa and Janine-it's wonderful to see you all supporting each other so well.

  9. I love this example of collaborative writing, but what a challenge keeping everything consistent.

  10. I completely agree, Brenda. As a writer who has never yet managed to get herself a CP or Beta reader I have no collaborative experience. I think it must be a great experience.

  11. I haven't had a chance to read any of these stories yet, but I have a few waiting in the tipping TBR. Congrats to you and all the authors on the successes of Class of '85.

    Kat-I thought I'd let you know I couldn't find any specific bag being offered, and the link wouldn't work for me either. Here's the one I used (that is in my bookmarks lol), if you could check to make sure it's the correct one and which tote might be offered. Of course, if I win I still want the green paisley print one. :) BTW- my daughter LOVES her purple birthday tote!

    1. Hi Calisa. Thanks for the 'heads up' there. I added it after the blog was up and running when Kat asked for the addition, but wasn't able to check it myself-as I had to go off and do Grandma stuff!

  12. I'm late to this reunion of reunion authors, but I have to echo the sentiments said so far. It was a fun series to write for (I wrote two stories) and I enjoyed the challenge of expanding the world already created without creating inconsistencies. Never has a town so small experienced so much drama, love and happy ever afters.

  13. This is my third attempt to make a comment. As usual Blogger hates me.
    I am so pleased with the response to this blog visit.
    thank you all so much for stopping by.
    To Calisa--and anyone who might wonder about the prize of a tote: go to and pick a bag. If you don't see something you like, tell me your fave color or style and we'll get it to you.
    The Class of '85 rocks!!!
    and you all made it so.

  14. Hi, Kat. Thank you for being here today! It's great to have all your co-writers pop in.

  15. Thanks for this fascinating and thorough example of the importance of setting. Having read several of the Class of '85 books, I remember a great deal of what you described.

    You chose a tought profession (before writing) then focused on the even tougher aspect of victims of abuse. Doctors without Borders is a wonderful organization.

    Thanks for a great blog (sorry I was late)

  16. Lynne and all . . .
    no one is ever too late. Thanks for stopping by.


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