My Walk of Life

KD Grace

Erotic novelist KD Grace has always found inspiration for her stories while out walking. As Julia Buckley discovers, walking with Guildford Ramblers has given her fresh ideas…

Click here to download an audio extract of Julia's interview with KD Grace

Despite growing up in the US Rocky Mountains, it wasn’t until I moved to Surrey with my husband that I discovered a love of walking. My father was a lumberjack and, to him, spending time in nature meant work. So it wasn’t something we did for enjoyment as a family.

Fortunately, I was a Girl Scout and that gave me lots of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Still, I spent much of my childhood in the house, writing. I’ve always been a storyteller. Even before I was old enough to write I would draw pictures and tell tales about them. I’ve had various jobs in media and communications over the years, but always wrote in my spare time. Three years ago, my first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, was published. I’m now a full-time author and have since published six more books, including my Lakeland Heatwave trilogy set in the Cumbrian countryside.

I describe my writing as erotic romance. Some of it is quite hot and sexy, which I’m not at all embarrassed about. I know some people might feel a little uncomfortable about it, but when I mention what I do, most are really interested – especially sinceFifty Shades of Grey became such a big hit. Even those with quite conservative tastes are reading erotic fiction now.

I think this is wonderful. Writers like me now have a fantastic opportunity to help heal some of the damage I believe has been inflicted on our sexuality by religion and commercialism. Through my writing, I hope to encourage more self-acceptance and a more human view of sex.

I’m a romantic to the core and I enjoy writing love scenes, but it’s telling stories that I’m really passionate about. Since I moved to England with my husband in 2004, I get most of my inspiration when I’m walking in the countryside. It was an elderly neighbour who first told us about the Ramblers. She was so enthusiastic about Guildford Ramblers that we decided to go along. We learned a lot about navigation and equipment, which helped give us the confidence to take on the long walks we’ve done since.

As well as exploring the North Downs Way and other local trails, we love the Lake District and recently completed Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route (pictured above), from St Bees Head on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. After two weeks and 192 miles on the trail, I came home and wrote my brains out! When I walk I’m always thinking of stories. It helps if I get stuck trying to figure out a scene; it’s like the other side of my brain kicks in and creativity takes over. Walking can be very meditative. You might start out with your mind on lots of things, but you can’t stay that way because nature distracts you. Maybe you’ll hear a bird singing and start looking for it. Then you’ll find bluebells in bloom or spot some beautiful mushrooms. It takes your mind to a different place – peaceful and connected with nature.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to set a romance story in a walking group on a long-distance trail. It would provide an interesting microcosm for the characters and story to develop. Walking with others is an amazing experience and very romantic. When friends and family from the States come to visit, I take them out walking and they’re astounded we can access so much of the countryside. I always remind them that this privilege came at a cost: many people worked very hard to open the trails, and the Ramblers are still working hard to ensure they stay accessible. The footpaths are one of the best things about British heritage. It’s just wonderful.

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