ME: You are definitely a survivor in the ever-changing publishing world. Published since 1982 with over 70 novels? So how old are you?
AUTHOR: I don’t answer that question, and if I did, it would be fiction. I’ll just say I am in the baby-boomer category. I taught two years at Ohio State (good-old Freshman English) and 15 years of high school English before I began to write full time both contemporary suspense and historical novels.
ME: Don’t you need a split personality for that?
AUTHOR: It does take a brain transplant to switch from one genre and era to the other, but I love doing both. The historicals about real British women take more research, but each of my suspense novels hinge on something that takes background reading. I’m currently researching cryonics and butterflies—yes, there is a link. I guess, even in writing entertaining fiction, I’m still trying to teach about interesting things.
ME: Since this is an interview, do you interview your characters before you start to write a book? I know some writer friends who do that.
AUTHOR: I used to write bios of my main characters, but I have learned to let them “grow as I go”—that is, develop and speak and come alive on the page. Likewise, I let the plots develop as I write much more than I used to. It probably drives my editors crazy when I hand in the required proposal and tell them halfway through it, and this is what might happen…maybe this is how it will end. Of course, with the historicals, I stick to what actually happened in the lives of some amazing women.
ME: So do you start with character?
AUTHOR: Actually, I start with a setting or location I know and love and then develop the story from there. (I was honored to meet the famous British author P.D. James and was really excited to hear she started with place too.) My current SOUTH SHORES SERIES is set mostly in South Florida where I lived for 30 winters. I’ve used Appalachia and Amish Country, both locations I often visit. My history ('her story') novels are usually set in either Tudor or Edwardian England. I’m a rabid Anglophile and have been to ‘Merrie Olde’ many times. Have laptop, will travel!
ME: What are the benefits and drawbacks of a long writing career?
AUTHOR: Drawbacks--stamina and flexibility are needed. Benefits: I have made many friends among other writers, in various pub houses and in my longtime literary agency. I’m blessed to have great editors, especially at this time. I belong to some national writing organizations and some local, so that’s double-dipping with business and pleasure. I have seen so many changes in publishing, but I must admit it’s much easier not to have to use a typewriter and not to have to schlep heavy manuscripts to the post office, then back and forth for revisions and proofreading. Now, I just hit the ‘send’ key on my laptop. As much time as it sometimes takes away from writing and research, it’s great to have a Facebook page and website to be able to more easily keep in touch with my readers. I love to visit libraries for talks, also, and the photo of me with the tiger (a tiger is in SHALLOW GRAVE (US) story) was taken during such a talk. Thanks to Sea Minor for this outreach opportunity!