Blog tour: The Rose Code

Welcome to the blog tour for The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Bletchley Park and the work that was carried out there has always fascinated me so it’s with pleasure that I share the following interview with the author with you all…

Hi Kate! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Rose Code! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: A beautiful blue-blooded debutante, a tart-tongued London shop-girl, and a shy crossword-solving spinster join the war against Nazi Germany as codebreakers of Bletchley Park, only to find that the real puzzle lies inside the Park itself as a traitor sets them against each other in a betrayal reaching past the end of the war.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I knew what was going to happen during the war years, but I was less certain how things would unfold in the post-war timeline. Normally when I write dual timeline novels I cut back and forth between the separate years, but here I wrote all of the WWII scenes before I even attempted the storyline set in 1947 against the backdrop of Princess Elizabeth & Prince Philip's royal wedding. A lot of things had to fall into place before I knew how that second story would come together!

What kind of research did you have to carry out in relation to this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a mere means to an end?

A: I love research—there's nothing more fun to me than going down the rabbit hole of history and seeing what you find on the other side. I probably did more research for THE ROSE CODE than for any other novel—so much wonderful non-fiction has been written about the codebreaking, the Enigma machines, social life at Bletchley Park, the Blitz, daily existence in WWII Britain; it seemed there was always something more to learn. I made a pre-pandemic trip to the UK so I could visit Bletchley Park in person, and it was a wonderful experience, like walking right into the past. The staff and their historical displays were so helpful—and I nearly bought out the entire book section at the gift shop.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Osla, Mab and Beth?

A: Oooh, fun question. For my effervescent debutante Osla, Holliday Grainger: in “The Borgias” and “CB Strike,” she shows Osla's beauty, sparkle, and sense of fun—she's the girl all men fall in love with, and all women want as their best friend. For my tough-as-nails London shop-girl Mab, Cara Delevingne: she has the height, the imperious eyebrows, the resting b*tch face, and shows like “Carnival Row” showed she can play a woman with a soft center under a hard outer shell. And for Beth, my shy wallflower turned genius codebreaker, Anya Taylor Joy who proved in “The Queen's Gambit” that she can play quirky oddball genius women with huge flair and strength.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: I loved writing the historic scene where an all-female team of codebreakers pulled a three-day binge to break the Italian Navy's military plans before the Battle of Matapan. Thanks to those brilliant women, Britain won the largest naval victory since Trafalgar, and I loved writing about the real-life mental and emotional effort that went into that titanic behind-the-scenes struggle.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: I would have liked to include the Bletchley Park theatricals—they were rather famous for their dramatics society, and it would have been fun to include one of the famous Christmas revues, or their production of Shakespeare's “Much Ado About Nothing”--I love a good play-within-a-play! But there just wasn't room in the novel for it.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: My next book is tentatively called THE DIAMOND EYE, and it stars Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a single mother/graduate student/library staffer who joined the Soviet Army when Hitler invaded her homeland, and became history's most lethal female sniper with the nickname “Lady Death.” She's a truly astounding woman, and I can't wait to tell her story.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I just finished Sadeqa Johnson's wonderful, heartbreaking YELLOW WIFE and Melanie Benjamin's superbly tense THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD. Next up is THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT by Walter Tevis (loved the Netflix series!) and ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN by Talia Hibbert.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: Social media is definitely a time-sucking siren call when the words aren't flowing. Most writers I know, myself included, struggle with time management: how to get away from Twitter conversations, Instagram notifications, business emails that never stop coming, and a to-do list that never ends, and get down to your daily wordcount? Some people implement strict time management—10 minutes of social media for every 50 minutes of writing, say—and some rely on apps that block out notifications once writing time starts. Whatever tricks you use to manage your time better, it all boils down to “Gotta get the words down, however you can make that happen.”

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Give yourself permission to be bad. Your first draft will be terrible—my first drafts are terrible; everyone's first drafts are terrible—and that is totally ok. Don't get so intimdated by that inner voice saying “This is so bad; what do you think you're doing?” that you don't end up writing a word! As (I think) Nora Roberts said, “I can fix a bad page; I can't fix a blank page.” Just get that terrible first draft down, then fix it later.

Thank you for your time!

A: My pleasure!


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