UCSB alumna Kathleen Martin’s latest novel has climbed to number 27 on the New York Times bestseller’s list.
Against the Wind, released on Dec. 27, is the first novel in Martin’s trilogy and will be followed by Against the Fire and Against the Law. Martin, who graduated from UCSB in 1969 with bachelor degrees in anthropology and history, uses the pen names Kat Martin, Kathy Lawrence and Kasey Marx.
Martin said she began as a realtor although writing novels had always been an eventual goal.
“I started selling real estate because I didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara,” she said. “You don’t always end up doing what you set out to.”
Martin said her writing career finally materialized after she married writer and photographer Larry Jay Martin. With her husband’s support and educational background, Martin began to author historical romance novels.
“All of a sudden you feel yourself being pulled back into your interests,” Martin said. “Life throws you some curves, I’ll tell you.”
Martin has authored nearly 50 novels, ranging from historical romance to paranormal suspense. She has been published in countries including Bulgaria, Russia, South Africa, China and Korea.
Martin said her books are often set in locations she is familiar with, including Santa Barbara — the backdrop for her novel The Dream. Her latest trilogy follows the fictional lives and relationships of three brothers in Wind Canyon, Wyo. — a setting inspired by Martin’s current home in Missoula, Mont.
Martin said Against the Wind’s storyline, which centers on protagonist Jackson Raines’ complicated relationship with his unrequited high school love, Sarah Allen, is both romantic and suspenseful. Moreover, Martin said, it was an unusual plot design for her to experiment with.
“I’ve just loved writing this because I get to focus on the guys more, but it’s a love story so I still get to do the girl thing too,” Martin said. “It’s a new thing for me to go from historical romance to contemporary suspense.”
However, Martin said she has also enjoyed the transition.
“Often [in historical fiction] you feel trapped by the constraints of the time period,” she said. “With contemporary fiction I can write almost whatever I want … I can still find something new and challenging.”
UCSB Alumni Association assistant director John Lofthus said many UCSB graduates become writers.
“Over the years we’ve had quite a few authors,” Lofthus said. “When you look at what it takes to get published, it’s quite an accomplishment.”
Martin said she spends every winter in Ventura, but hasn’t visited UCSB in several years.However, she may return to her alma mater during this year’s All Gaucho Reunion.
An Alumni Authors reception is being planned for the reunion, scheduled from April 29 to May 1.