Give us a little bit about your background and when you first started publishing.
When I was growing up, whether it was poems or short stories, I always remember writing. The need to express myself creatively was like a bug trying to get out, and writing provided an escape for me.
I LOVED being read to. My mom told my sister an I stories before bed and I remember a favorite show of mine was called Leslie the Shreve. She was a hippieish kind of storyteller, complete with puppets and props. I sat glued to the TV set, let me tell you. I wrote her letters (I was 7) and was invited onto the show…numerous times. A highlight of my childhood.
I continued writing, mostly paranormal’s when paranormal’s were basically unheard of. I stopped to get married and have babies, and then started writing again after being inspired by the movie Braveheart.
My first serious go into writing a full-length novel became an Arthurian time-travel trilogy that has never been published. It’s fanciful and over-indulgent but I love having it to remind myself of how far I’ve come. I got the call from my agent in 2005 for Lord of Desire (my book about passion, or Brand the Passionate). Whew! That book got hot at times! I got a contract with Hachette Books and my career went from there.
Historical Setting Related:
Have you visited the places you’ve written about or just read about them?
- This June, I finally went to Scotland, Skye most importantly. It was my first time on a plane, so doubly exciting. I loved every minute of it and long to go back. I used to write about the Highlands from this deep, weird place, almost like I knew exactly how it looked, sounded, smelled—but then actually going there, seeing the vast majesty of Glencoe and the Cuillins, feeling your own insignificance in this vast, open, rugged, land—my mind was blown. I’ll never forget the rain, the bulging rivers and hundreds of thin waterfalls, AND the castles. You can’t help but feel small there. This time, I didn’t get to Camasunary, (or Camlochlin, where my MacGregors live) which is okay. It gives me more incentive to go back again. And now, with my new lads, the MacPhersons, I need to visit a whole new list of places, including England! Yes!
What interesting settings have you used (homes, battlefields, events in history, etc)?
- I love infusing real history or historical figures into my books. My Hearts of the Highlands series takes place during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the time of Robert the Bruce—on whom I learned quite a bit from my Highlands Tour guide, Stephen. I drank up his stories about the great Scots’ king while Stephen maneuvered us alone narrow, winding roads, stopping to pull over so an oncoming cars could pass…in the rain. When I came home to finish up Heart of Stone, my latest release, everything just came easier. I have been to the Highlands and I can go back anytime I close my eyes.
Also, Heart of Ashes, book one in the series opens with a scene on a battlefield, in the middle of battle. I loved writing it. I’m really a very gentle person but I love watching or writing battle scenes. It gets my blood going.
Book two, Heart of Shadows, fascinated me while I researched Border Reivers and Wardens of the Marches. We always hear about the famous battles but families along the borders were so affected by the wars between England and the Scots, that they began a whole new standard of living, hearing you must raid your border neighbors to survive but you cannot touch anything or anyone in your own clan family. My heroine is a bad-ass who can fight and kill and the men in the villages don’t like it. 🙂
- In my first three books, The Risande Trilogy, William the Conquerer is a well-loved secondary character. The epilogue includes a brief intro to Hastings. In my MacGregor Series, we begin with Oliver Cromwell and end with King George of Hanover. The center of the entire series revolved around the real MacGregor proscription. Research for Laird of the Mist kept me from writing such a brutal story for five years.
Why did you choose the particular period you write in? What is it about that era that speaks to you?
- I chose the Bruce and the Scottish War of Independence to write about because it marked a great advancement for Scotland. The Scots fought hard, as usual, for what was theirs. It’s the thing I love most about them. When I visited Scotland this year, I could feel the pride of its inhabitants, It will live forever. A write can shape some mighty heroes and heroines from those glens and heather-lined hills.I also think any time in Scotland’s history would call to me, so who knows what’s next. (Well, I do, actually). 🙂
What inspires you to create a certain character (give example)? Have you ever changed the character arc because it didn’t work with the storyline?
- My biggest muse when creating a character is music. I wrote Jacob, my dragon-shape shifter in “White Hot” to one song, looped over and over again. To this day, when I hear it, it brings me right back to that book, those characters. Some characters have come to me through music, others through a picture I find online. I love expressive features. They move me. They tell stories.I’ve never changed a character arc because it didn’t work with the storyline. I usually base my storyline around my character. It has to work for him or her, not the other way around.When you write a series, sometimes facts have already been established about a character who will appear in the next book. In my latest release, Heart of Stone, the heroine, Julianna was introduced in Heart of Ashes. Her storyline had been hinted at so there was no way around it when I wrote her in her own book. She wasn’t likable in Heart Of Ashes, but we come to see her in a different light in Heart Of Shadows. I really fell in love with her, as I have with all of my heroines, especially in this series. They feel. They hurt. They fight. I’m very proud of the three of them. 🙂
Do you have a certain quirk in your writing process? Do the stars have to be aligned or do you have to have your favorite tea? Where do you do your best writing?
- I write to music. Sometimes I can’t write without it. I know I shouldn’t, but I edit as I go. If I’m on page 240, I have to stop and go fix the points I need to make on page 30 before I go any further.My best writing? In the bathtub!
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
- This is such a hard question because it’s like asking me who is your favorite child. I love something different about every one of them. I think out of the three McPherson brothers though, I would have to choose Torin from book 2, Heart of Shadows. He tore at my heart the most. These brothers went through some stuff. But Cain had Father Timothy and Nicholas had Julianna. Torin had no one. He was devious and clever, compassionate and merciless. Very complex and I loved writing him. Oh, who am I kidding? I loved writing Cain too. Oh, how he brooded and grumbled, and ultimately fell to the wiles of the only woman who could set him on his arse. And Nicholas, oh, girls, Nicholas was always seething to me. Always one breath away from the brink of his own destruction. They all had to learn how to love again. Trust again. So yes, they needed heroines who could kick down some walls.
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
- Paranormal romance. Love it. It’s actually my first love. Tambu. It’s the name of the first story I ever wrote. I was 14. It was also my first rejection. In 1984 I wrote another paranormal romance about a time-traveling demon, named Jerry who falls in love with a mortal. My inspiration for Jerry was a cutie some of you might remember named Jack Scalia, or the Jordache Guy. Alas, Eternally Yours(The title wasn’t so cringe worthy in ’84, people, okay?) was also rejected. Yes, I still adore paranormal. I finally wrote a few after I’d honed my craft and they are still some of my favorite stories.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Paula and what inspires her writing. If you are interested, Check out Paula’s latest release “Heart of Stone”.