Give us a little bit about your background and when you first started publishing.
I watched Catherine Cookson’s “The Black Moth” on TV back in the 1990s. There was a scene where the hero should have kissed the heroine, and didn’t. So, for my own satisfaction, I daydreamed a scene in which he did take the romance a step farther. I then discovered an ability to daydream entire books—although fantasizing about gorgeous heroes might be a more correct way of putting it.
At that time, I was an archeologist, after which I became a special needs teacher, and ultimately a museum curator. I was drawn to write historical romances due to what I’d learned in my heritage career, but things didn’t really start moving until I published free books on Wattpad and discovered people didn’t seem to mind reading them. I entered a #PitMad contest in 2016, shortly after losing my job, and was picked up by a US publisher. Thankfully, through them I saw five books published, three of which became bestsellers. Now that I’m with Dragonblade—a publisher specializing in historical romance—I feel really at home, and I just can’t wait to get everyone hooked on my new Tudor series, “Trysts and Treachery”.
Historical Setting Related:
Have you visited the places you’ve written about or just read about them?
- All my settings are based on places I’ve been to, or with which I’m familiar. We have a wealth of historic sites here in the UK, and I’ve been haunting them since my childhood—one of my first long stories (written when I was nine) was about a haunted Norman castle.
What interesting settings have you used (homes, battlefields, events in history, etc)?
- The main inspiration for the “Trysts and Treachery” series is the annual re-creation of Tudor life at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, England. I have attended many times as a participant, recreating the roles of Tudor cook, stillroom wench (making potions and remedies), spinner, weaver, and cottager.
Why did you choose the particular period you write in? What is it about that era that speaks to you?
- I simply adore the color and excitement of the Tudor age—the British were exploring the globe, claiming new territories, bringing back peculiar plants like tobacco and tomato, introducing new domestic animals such as turkeys, writing cheerful songs, dances, and love poetry. And of course, there was Shakespeare. An absolute genius with language, characterization, and drama.
- Apologies if I waxed too lyrical there, but I love, love, LOVE the Tudors!
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?
- Every heroine I write starts off as me, because I have to be sure I’ll fall in love with the hero. Then I make her younger, more attractive, more daring, and give her character flaws and traits that fit with the plot I’ve envisaged.
- Kit, the hero of “Lord of Deception”, is the ideal Tudor man, a mix of humor, allure, charm, cleverness, courage, and drop-dead gorgeousness. I will openly admit, if I may, that Michael Praed as Robin Hood in “Robin of Sherwood” was my ideal man back in the 1980s when I first started my Tudor re-creations. So, there’s a lot of his character in Kit, and I’ve incorporated facets of real men as well. Yes—there were some most desirable gentlemen on the manor at Kentwell, but I was very well-behaved. As far as I can recall…
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 don’t think I have any writing quirks. I have a Lego Velociraptor (other brands are available) with which I fiddle when thinking, and I gaze out the window at the birds a lot while pursuing the perfect phrase.
- Green tea reminds me of when I did a fabulous writing course through the University of Bath, as that was the first time that I ever tasted it. So, I often have green tea to remind myself I’m in work mode, and shouldn’t just mess about on Facebook.
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
- My favorite hero? Alas, I don’t have a favorite hero among my characters. To me, each one of them has to be perfect for the heroine, even if they must follow a steep character arc in order to win her. They have to be perfect for me, too. But I like to have fun with them, and put them through their paces. One day I’d like to create a hero like Aragorn from “Lord of the Rings”, envisaging Viggo Mortensen in the role. Yum! Oh, dear, does that make me sound shallow?
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
- Favorite genre? I have always read quite widely. I confess to becoming obsessed with particular writers and binge-reading their books. My current obsession is with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart—I’m thoroughly enjoying vintage romantic suspense stories, written in the first person. I have amassed loads during the coronavirus lockdown, generally 1960s and 1970s paperbacks, because they have such over-the-top, Gothic covers.