A. The plots for my Romantic Historical Fact Fiction novels arise from historical non-fiction.
Before I finished Tuesday’s Child, Heroines Born on Different Days of the Week, Book Four, the basic plot for Wednesday’s Child occupied my mind while doing housework, shopping and gardening.
Before I wrote Sunday’s Child I read a book about to write in which the author advised novelists to plot their novels in detail. I spent hours outlining the plot in each chapter. The method didn’t work for me because I follow the characters’ lead in my novels. I like them to surprise me and take unexpected routes which add twists to the tale.
Q. Which comes first - characters or plot for you?
I jot down a mere sentence or two about the plot which my characters might reject.
Until I have chosen names for the main characters, which are appropriate for the era in which my novel takes place, and filled in detailed character profiles I can’t write the first line. I fill in the names of their great grandparents, grandparents, parents and other relatives. I enter their likes and dislikes, their idiosyncrasies and much more. When I write the first line paragraph I know them almost as well as I know members of my family.
Q. What are you working on now? Is this a book in a current series or something totally new?
A. I am working on Thursday’s Child, Book Five.
Each stand-alone novel in the series is linked by a character or characters from previous novels, but it is unnecessary to read them in sequence.
Q. Do you have some kind of object or place that figures in most of your books? I use gems a lot, hospitals and caves.
A. In each of my eight published novels set in the reign of Edward II of England, Queen Anne Stuart’s reign 1702 – 1714 and my early nineteenth-century Regency novels I focus on something applicable to the era. For example, the events in Monday’s Child take place during the 100 days between Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and the Battle of Waterloo.
Q. Do you write every day or just when the spirit hits?
A. If I waited for my spirit to hit it would take me years to write a novel. I have so many other interests which try to lure me away from my work in progress and other ‘writerly’ matters.
To complete a novel, I apply strict self-discipline. Although this routine is not, as the saying goes, set in concrete, with short breaks, I write from 6 a. m to 10 a.m, for an hour after lunch and from four or five p.m. until eight p.m.