1. Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms? Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices? Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?
I prefer historical to everything else, although I’ve tried my hand at S/F a few times. Something to do with Time, I guess—one way or the other. I’ve never tried to plot a murder story or a police procedural, but probably because I’ve never done the research homework necessary. The “semi-biographical” is my favorite form of historical, because the plot is already constructed for you. That form also has burdens, too. Chief among them is that you really, really must immerse in your subject’s life. That means mentally swallowing a mountain of research followed by a long digestion period in which you assemble the character from all the bits you’ve collected.
2. Heroes, Heroines, Villains. Which are your favorite to write? Does one of these come easy and why?
Heroines, hands down! Once again for me, the easy way—write what you know. I’m female, and that’s my experience of life. Strong women fascinate me as our sex has always been swimming against the societal tide. It’s still, in so many ways, a man’s world, and to be rewarded as a woman, just like the old saw, you must be “twice as smart and twice as fast” as the men against whom you compete. Not that I’m one of these superwomen. My bold and brave heroines, I’ve begun to suspect, are a form of wish-fulfillment.
3. Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want every reader to love? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
Heroes can be a pain sometimes, especially when writing romantic fiction. To some extent, these are dream guys, so they aren’t allowed to have a lot of faults. Pardon me, but they can’t fart in bed, like real men sometimes do. I have taken up the practice of studying pictures, although contemporary fashions in “good looks” aren’t the same as those in the past, so the reader and I sometimes have a conflict of interest there. I’m currently writing a fantasy historical, however, in which the hero is the chief narrator, so there’s an exception to every rule. This charming guy, BTW, ‘came first,’ long before the plot, so in a very real sense, he’s the center of this story.
4. Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or imagination create the woman you want the reader to root for? Do they appear before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
In romantic fiction, I often use pictures (and astrology) to build a heroine and to instantly give her a shape. When I wrote Roan Rose, a medieval historical set in the now mega-popular English Wars of Roses period, I decided that instead of using the obvious narrator, one of the doomed royal principals, I’d use a fictional woman. She would be a ‘body servant’ who would naturally be—not a social equal, but, nevertheless, an intimate. Rose, an insider, could relate a “downstairs” view of events. She appeared with freckles, so many freckles that when she displeases her masters, they call her names like “spotted cow.” She’s definitely a girl with attitude.
5. Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?
It’s a tough job, making the bad guy a little more than a cardboard cut-out, particularly, again, in romantic fiction, which has certain conventions a writer must follow. I’d prefer to write stories in which people just are people, with good and bad mixed together, the kind who make enough messes just by themselves without some deadly exterior antagonist to cause trouble and plot twists. It’s helpful, though, to imagine a villain as someone who practices one of the seven deadly sins. That’s ‘human’ as all get-out! In a romance, first choices are lust, envy and greed, with drunkenness, avarice and hubris running close behind.
6. What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine and or the villain?
Black Magic should be released in October. It’s a sequel to a book I never originally imagined would have one. The first, Red Magic, is historical/romance with fantasy elements, but the second book is more ‘creature-feature’ with a shape-shifting hero and villainous vampire with a long memory and a grudge. The love interest never really jelled, so perhaps, with the addition of sufficient Marvel-type bone-crunching and wrong-righting, this one treads closer to fantasy. The hero is one of a pair of noble twins born at the end of Red Magic. Handsome, disillusioned Goran von Hagen returns to a family estate after a decade of Napoleonic Warring to embark upon the life of an ordinary country gentleman. This definitely does not happen.
7. What are you working on now?
What next? Another Magic character has already begun talking to me, as well as another of Sophie’s German sisters for a sequel to the Pennsylvania set Hand-me-Down Bride. I have an immense semi-biographical ‘drawer baby’ (as they were once called) about Alexander Hamilton and his wife, which I must polish. Note to self: Must, per Nora Roberts, get “fanny in chair.”
Thanks so much to Janet Walters, for such a kind invitation to blog on her excellent site!
8. How can people find you?
Twitter (Haven’t yet made it into the 21st Century.)