When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one's more surprised than she. Julian's relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she's baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire - Manhattan's most eligible bachelor - pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn't had a boyfriend since college?
The answer is beyond imagining
at least at first. Kate and Julian's story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.
Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.
An honors graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London advising senior corporate executives on business and communications strategy. This proved uninspiring, so she joined the RWA in 2007 to explore the far more challenging world of fiction writing. Overseas, her first novel, won two RWA contests before it was even sold to Putnam.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Beatriz Williams
Interview with Beatriz Williams
Question: What originally inspired the idea of Overseas?
Beatriz Williams: It all began with Julian! I had this image of a classic First World War infantry officer, a sort of combination of Rupert Brooke and Julian Grenfell and Roland Leighton, walking the streets of contemporary Manhattan. He popped into my head quite unexpectedly, in the middle of a writing workshop in the summer of 2007, and for months I tried to ignore him! I'd never attempted to write anything in a contemporary voice, and I certainly never planned to write anything to do with time travel. But before long this man had a name, and dark blond hair, and he was playing the piano and terribly lonely, so I had to figure out his story and write it down.
Question: How did you use your first-hand knowledge (of working on Wall Street) when writing Overseas?
Beatriz Williams: As a matter of fact, I've had never actually worked at an investment bank! But I worked as a consultant to financial services companies, and I have an MBA in Finance, and most of my in-laws work on Wall Street, so I understand and appreciate the investment bank culture and the people inside it. I knew how brutal the lifestyle can be, particularly for someone making the rotation on the graduate analyst program, and how it affects your judgment and your view of humanity. You're dealing with highly intelligent, highly ambitious, highly motivated people, and the stakes are stratospherically high. Someone like Kate, the heroine of Overseas, who's introspective and has a great deal of integrity, does a lot of self-negotiation to get through, and ultimately you have to decide whether you're going to forge your career on your own terms (as Julian does) or on someone else's.
Question: How important was it to incorporate suspense in what is primarily a romance novel?
Beatriz Williams: I know publishing people hate to hear this, because they're the ones who have to figure out how to market the book, but I really wasn't thinking about genres at all! I was just trying to write the story that formed in my head. The mystery appeared at the start, with Julian striding through the modern world: How did he get there? What are his secrets? I knew this had to be a love story, and I knew he was looking for the woman he loved. But who was she, and how did he already know her? Why does he love her with such passion and conviction and protectiveness? These questions drove the story forward as I wrote it, and I hope will drive the story forward for the reader.
Question: You interest in the British experience of the First World War is evident from Amiens France 1916; how long have you been dreaming of writing a book featuring the First World War?
Beatriz Williams: For most of my adult life, I've been obsessed with the First World War, and particularly with the generation of brilliant young men who ran off to the trenches in 1914. They had been raised in the Romantic tradition of the 19th century and were filled with its idealism, with unshakeable belief in the heroic virtues of courage and honor, and they were slaughtered in their thousands and millions. That cultural transformation from Romanticism to Modernism had already begun, with the profound social and artistic change of the early part of the 20th century, but it reached a tipping point somewhere around the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After that, there was no going back. You had Rupert Brooke rhapsodizing in raised language about the "sweet red wine of youth" (meaning "blood") in 1914, and by 1918 Isaac Rosenberg envisioned a corpse talking to the rats. The tragedy of the war reached into every crevice of Western culture, from language to art to sexual relationships. So I had always wanted to mine this field as a setting for fiction. I just never expected to tell the story through the voice of a modern twenty-five-year-old woman!
Question: Overseas is going to be published in eight countries, did you ever imagine this success when you began writing?
Beatriz Williams: Not at all - I'm still pinching myself. I was just focused on the story, really driven by it, staying up until three in the morning and then getting up a few hours later to make breakfast for my four young children. I was too immersed in this world I'd created to think ahead to publication. But I remember after I was finished, I had a good feeling. I knew this was the manuscript that was going to make it.