There's a New Digital Imprint in Town – Interview with Kate Cuthbert

Recently I was glad to get a chance to catch up a little with Kate Cuthbert, one of our AAR alums who went on to work in the publishing world and is now managing editor of Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Escape Publishing. Kate has all kinds of great information about Escape to share, and best of all, the books are available worldwide, so you don’t have to be in Australia to check out this line!

I know you’ve had quite a history in the romance community. Can you tell readers a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Kate Cuthbert: Sure! I’ve been writing about romance for almost as long as I’ve been reading it. In the past I’ve written a fortnightly romance column for a state newspaper, op-eds and reviews for the New York Journal of Books and Bookseller and Publishers Magazine, a romance-focused newsletter for an online bookshop, and, of course, spent a couple of fantastic years reviewing for All About Romance!

Now I’m lucky enough to combine my career (editing and publishing) with my passion (romance) as Managing Editor of Escape Publishing. My role with Escape is to acquire titles, drive editorial direction, and represent Escape to the world, via face-to-face or social media.

If you had to explain the Escape imprint, how would you best describe its focus?

Kate Cuthbert: Our goal is to bring Australian voices and stories to a global audience, and hopefully take a few risks, cater to a few niches, and set some trends along the way.

Is Escape DRM-free?

Kate Cuthbert: Yes – DRM-free and no geographic restrictions.

Does Escape publish any one particular subgenre (i.e. contemporary, historical, paranormal, etc..), or are you looking for new books in various subgenres of romance?

Kate Cuthbert: As long as it’s romance – that is, with a strong focus on a romantic relationship and an emotionally uplifting ending – then we’re interested! All genres, subgenres, cross-genres, and anything else an author cares to invent. I get to read all the submissions, so I’m interested in being surprised.

And since I know you live in Australia, what makes Australian romance distinctive? What do you see as major strengths in the community of authors there?

Kate Cuthbert: I’m going to answer this question in two parts: first, Australia is a big, geographically diverse country, which makes for big, geographically diverse stories – what being Australian means to a Sydney-sider, for example, is not the same as what being Australian means to a Northern Queensland station manager. What I’m finding is that Australians really embrace their differences, and the Australian ‘voice’, as such, is more of a chorus. This means a lot of different stories, a lot of different voices, and a lot of surprises and diversity. Also, Aussies tend to tell it like it is. As writers, they aren’t as polished or honed to a specific way of writing as writers in countries with longer publishing cultures.

In regards to the community, Australian romance writers are unfailingly supportive of each other. Traditionally, romance has been wilfully ignored in Australia, so writers have had to band together to fight the good fight – and this has led to so much mentoring, sharing of resources, and community learning and professional development that the quality of writing and story-telling is just spectacularly high.

If someone wanted to get a feel for what sets Australian romance apart, what books would you recommend?

Kate Cuthbert: There’s a spate of Aussie rural romances on the market at the moment, so any of those would be a great start: in particular, I like Rachael John’s Jilted, Bronwyn Parry’s suspense titles, in particular, Dead Heat, and, you know, The Thorn Birds is always good for a look in :) If you like category length novels, a group of Australians did a multi-author series last year based around the fictional Sydney Harbour Hospital, all of which were lovely.

I know the Escape imprint has just launched, and you have more books coming soon. What are some of the Escape releases that you’re most excited about?

Kate Cuthbert: I’m so thrilled to see Grease Monkey Jive doing so well – I loved the ensemble cast, the frenetic feel, and the long slow build. In December we have a pair of multi-cultural romances that celebrate the diversity in Australia – Short Soup and No Strings Attached. And January is all about science fiction with a very hot adult SF title, Legend Beyond the Stars, and our first YA title: Rayessa and the Space Pirates.

Can you also tell us a little bit about the launch books?

Kate Cuthbert: It would be my pleasure! I already mentioned Grease Monkey Jive, so I’ll start with that one: It’s a debut novel from Ainslie Paton, a lovely, meaty, get-your-teeth-in, contemporary romance about a ballroom dance teacher, a mechanic, a dance competition, $50 000, friendships, family, and the power of a little sizzle.

Chains of Revenge by Keziah Hill is an erotic fantasy novella about a slave in sexual bondage who rises to become a Warlord – and take his revenge on the woman who broke his heart.

Chaos Born from Rebekah Turner is an urban fantasy debut about a mercenary with a secret so dark even she doesn’t know about it – but secrets are meant to be revealed. This novel introduces the gaslit world of the Applecross, its many layers, characters, and the militant religious order that seeks to control it all.

Christmas Wishes by Rhian Cahill is a steamy and sweet holiday story about best friends realising that all they really want for Christmas is each other. This one is followed up in December by New Year’s Kisses, which is such a romantic story set against the Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve.

Finally, we have In Safe Hands which is another debut novel, by author Lee Christine. This one is a Sydney-set, sophisticated romantic suspense novel about a highly successful lawyer threatened by a youthful indiscretion and the ex-SAS Commander that she recruits to help her.

Can readers outside of Australia buy from this imprint?

Kate Cuthbert; Absolutely. At the moment we’re on Amazon and iTunes, and we’ll be up on B&N soon. You can also find us at many smaller retailers, or check out our website: www.escapepublishing.com.au

Thanks Lynn!

Thank you for joining us, Kate!

If you have anything you’d like to ask about Escape Publishing, please comment below and Kate Cuthbert will be checking in to chat with you. In addition, if you want to try out the Escape imprint, the books are available on the publisher’s website as well as on Amazon, and the December titles (including No Strings Attached, Short Soup, and New Year’s Kisses, among others) are only $0.99 right now!

– Lynn Spencer


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12/17/2012 7:10 pm

This is exciting! I’m always on the lookout for romances set in different locales. Just downloaded Grease Monkey Jive. Best of luck!

12/10/2012 1:50 pm

I did have one question for Kate – are there any historicals in the works now?

I bought a couple of the contemporaries as soon as I read this but I’d love to see historicals, too. Thx!

Kate Cuthbert
Kate Cuthbert
Reply to  KiraW
12/10/2012 3:34 pm

Hi Kira
We do have some historicals in the works: a Scottish medieval is out in January, and we have some Australian set historicals that we’re working through right now!


12/10/2012 11:51 am

This is thrilling news! One of my favorite Harlequin contemporary authors is Nikki Logan, and many of her romances are set in Australia. There is something fresh about a new setting, and a purely digital imprint may also mean that the books are off the well-trodden path. I’m off to check out the site now!