The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I was born in California, raised amongst Hoosiers and Buckeyes, and found the love of my life in England. After earning my master's degree with a thesis on Old West legends, I was excited to learn other parts of the world have history too-and then set about researching it all. Two daughters and a half-dozen moves later, my family and I have settled just north of Chicago. My first published work of fiction was a short story set in 1958 called "Sundial," winner of The Wild Rose Press's "Through the Garden Gate" contest in the Vintage (1950s-60s) category.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
I know this might sound strange, but I feel I already am my characters. I love hearing from CPs and readers that one heroine differs quite a bit from another I've written, mostly because they all represent facets of myself. I'm convinced, when writing, that I'm describing the same women and men over again because their hopes and fears and desires represent elements of my psyche. They feel very close and familiar. But I hate when authors hedge with crappy answers like that, so I'll pick Meg from What a Scoundrel Wants. Yes, she's blind. Yes, she's cranky and isolated. But she has passion for her work in alchemy and winds up with the best, best hero, Will Scarlet.
Who or what influences you when you write?
Music and movies--music especially. I've found that writing has become my one, all-consuming eater of free time, so the hours I spend reading are woefully sparse, and then I'm not exactly looking for inspiration. When I'm reading, I want to be entertained and I try to shut off my inner editor. Movies, however, are much easier for me to dissect and analyze with regard to plotting and structure. So for What a Scoundrel Wants, for example, I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves--anything with a big, outrageous plot and larger-than-life action. And music. There's the good stuff. Melody and words come together to invoke feeling. In bite size servings! I scramble for new music all throughout the writing process, and I rarely overlap. Certain songs belong to certain books! For "Sundial" it was "Dancing" by Elisa, "Black" by Pearl Jam, and "Closing In" by Imogen Heap. For What a Scoundrel Wants it was "Protection" by Massive Attack, "Can't Let It Go" by Goo Goo Dolls, and "More" by Tara McLean. See? Like soundtracks. Good stuff, and very evocative of where I want a story to go.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
My typical writing days are a mess. I have two girls in pre-school, so most of my business, blogging, promotional efforts, and feedback for my CPs can be done when they are at home. But writing requires a deeper level of concentration. Their schedule leaves me three hours during the day, which I tend to break into half hour timed sessions. I do a daily word count, ideally, and finish off with more half hour sessions in the evening if necessary to meet that goal.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
What a Scoundrel Wants is due out in December of 2008 from Kensington as part of their Zebra Debut line. In it, Robin Hood's estranged nephew Will Scarlet rescues an alchemist named Meg who can clear him of murder, but she's blind, obsessed by fire, and sister to the woman he helped kidnap. Its sequel, currently without a title but due out in December of 2009, will follow Meg's sister to Spain. If you'd like to read an excerpt of What a Scoundrel Wants, please visit my website!
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I would love to try something outside of history, which is strange because I never thought I'd be interested in other genres. I have a master's in history--it's what I love. But my mind keeps cheating on that love and coming up with nifty new ideas in paranormal and sci-fi worlds. It's no wonder because some of my favorite movies blend sci-fi and romance: The Matrix, Terminator, The Empire Strikes Back. I think my creative output may follows those lines one day. We'll see where it goes, but I would enjoy trying my hand at something distinctly different from what I'm working on now. What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
I do enjoy research, probably a little too much. My first love was research, which is how I wound up in academia, but I learned early that solid research does not guarantee an entertaining novel. It can weigh down an otherwise solid manuscript. I am constantly looking to research for ideas and intriguing plot elements, but I limit myself to a month of pre-writing time with the books. Otherwise I'd just keep getting more books out of the library and never start a new project! At some point I just have to begin, trusting that the research will fit smoothly when it comes time for revisions. What would you like to tell your readers?
Thank you! I am just starting on this crazy roller coaster, so I appreciate any little bit of support. I do hope you enjoy my stories and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you. Please visit my website or my blog, both of which have my email information. What is the best and advice you have ever received?
When I first started getting serious about my writing, I became a big fan of Lynn Veihl's Paperback Writer blog (http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/). She has wonderful resources for the entire writing process. I was stuck at the time, working on projects that I never finished. Her advice was just to keep writing and save the revisions for later. The inner editor must bow to the writer for the first draft or else she'll stall the whole thing! After reading that, I sat like a good girl and did my work count for 44 days until I finished my first novel. Broke the damn, so to speak. Now it's what I live by. Just a little bit every day.eventually you get to type "the end"! Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I do belong to a wonderful group of about 12 writers called the Online Romance Writers Circle. Kelly Schaub (www.kellymccrady.com) and Patti Ann Colt (www.pattianncolt.com) have been the most influential in bringing out the best in my work. My rough drafts are ugly, monstrous things that run about 20% over word count. I chop them down, try to streamline them, and then I hand them off to the Circle. They have my back, making sure I make as much sense as possible! The only drawback, of course, has to do with time constraints. Reading and giving proper attention to other people's work does take time, but after all the help they provide me, I'm happy to do it.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Thank you for this opportunity!