I have been writing, off and on, as long as I can remember. My first stab at a historical novel was in junior high school, where I whiled away my study halls writing about the adventures of five orphaned siblings living through the Blitz. Fortunately, most of the details have escaped me, but as I recall my characters had an endless supply of money and very few relatives to get in their way. Aside from the remarks such as "There's a war going on, you know" that I cleverly threw in once in a while, the characters could have just as easily been living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the 1970's (like me) as in London in the 1940's. But everyone has to start somewhere, eh?
In college I spent more time hanging out at the school newspaper than I did in the classroom, but I can't say the time was wasted because I got more practice at writing. After college, I worked at various clerical, secretarial, and editorial jobs before finally entering law school a tad late in life. (I used to say that I had clothes older than some of my classmates, and I wasn't off by far.)
After completing law school (here's a link to an article I wrote while there), I worked for several years as a solo practitioner. After a few years, I was ready for a change. When I saw an ad for a job with a legal publisher that would allow me to work at home, I jumped at the opportunity. I'm still working full-time at that job today.
One day while surfing the Internet, I came across an online version of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II. I'd read the play in graduate school, but when I reread it, I became absorbed in the drama itself, then intrigued by the historical background to it. I began doing research, and that's when I discovered Eleanor de Clare and her fascinating life. So fascinating, I felt compelled to write about it—hence my first novel, The Traitor's Wife. Having acquired a taste for writing biographical historical fiction, I found that I couldn't stop.
Who are my own favorite authors? In my idea of heaven, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Jane Austen will have each written a new novel every year or so since their deaths, and the celestial bookshelves will be sagging with their works. There'd be a new Shakespeare play to attend often as well. As for more recent authors, my favorites include Anne Tyler, the Rabbit novels of John Updike, and P. D. James. I'm a relative newcomer to reading historical fiction, but I've found the novels of Sharon Penman, Margaret Campbell Barnes, Brenda Honeyman, and Jean Plaidy to be particularly enjoyable.