Thursday, July 19, 2012

Closing the Blog

It has been a great two years of interviewing authors, learning about new books, and getting a little behind-the-scenes view of what goes into writing a great story.  However, I have found that the regular grind of scheduling interviews, reading the books (as much as I loved them all) and doing the interviews has become too time consuming for me.  So, I must bid goodbye to this blog.

I will still be blogging on Maggie's Meanderings, which is a blog that combines both of my author identities, Maggie Jaimeson and Maggie Faire.  I will occasionally interview authors and talk about new releases, but it will not be the primary purpose of my blog.

I will leave this blog up for links so you can always go back and see those great interviews--at least until I figure out how to move the archives to my new blog. 

So, a big THANK YOU to my regular readers and to those who just happened by when an author they liked was interviewed. I appreciate your loyalty and your friendship over the last two years. I hope you will join me and meander among life, books, mysteries, science fiction coming true today, and the place where fantasy and reality collide.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do You Have to Choose Between Love and Career?

Picture of book, The Return of Benjamin Quincy by Susan Lute

Please welcome Susan Lute to Behind the Book. I have to admit, I LOVE Susan's books and the one we are talking about today really a struck a chord with me--especially with all these transitions I've made in the past four months. 

Whether you are in a relationship or thinking about being in a relationship, I think most of us women have had times in our life when we wondered what we were willing to sacrifice to move ahead in our career.  Or what we were willing to sacrifice to hold on to that special one love. I know I have, at least three or four times.  It is this dynamic that, for me, was what kept me reading Susan's book, The Return of Benjamin Quincy.  That and the love story of course.

Here is the blurb:
All Benjamin Quincy wants is to make a stable home for his ten year old daughter in the town he grew up in and left in bitter disappointment. Young and hot headed, he made a mistake. Eleven years later, he’s a divorced, single dad with a troubled child, and a lot to make up for.
All Benjamin Quincy wants is to make a stable home for his ten year old daughter in the town he grew up in and left in bitter disappointment. Young and hot headed, he made a mistake. Eleven years later, he’s a divorced, single dad with a troubled child, and a lot to make up for.

Sydney Marshall has finally snagged the perfect job at a coveted travel magazine in New York. Does she care that her ex has returned to the tiny town of Rosewood with a precious daughter who’s not hers? Does it matter that every time he comes near, her heat flutters madly like in the old days? No! Her bags are packed; plane tickets are stashed in her carry on bag; the adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.

There’s only one problem. Life and Rosewood have a penchant for interfering in the best laid plans.

What was the spark that led you to come up with this story, and how did that spark blossom through your characters?

The Return Of Benjamin Quincy started out as a women's fiction story about two elderly sisters who'd been estranged over a man (the younger sister *stole* the older sister's fiance). Meredith ended up never marrying, but then has a stroke and her younger sister, a widow now (after a long and happy marriage) comes back to take care of her, much against Meredith's wishes. Since there's no one else to turn to, Meredith has no choice. The *spark* was two sisters, the eldest independent, strong, always taking care of others; the youngest, a little spoiled, always taken care of, alone now, coming home to care for the sister she wronged. I wanted to explore that role reversal, and how it could heal these sister's relationship. In that version, the Doc was always meant to be Meredith's happy-ever-after.

This sounds nothing like Ben Quincy, does it? When I conceived the story, women's fiction was tanking, so my agent at the time suggested I turn it into a small town contemporary romance, ala Robin Carr. And so Sydney, who was already a strong character in the story, became the heroine, and her ex-boyfriend, who'd left town, and made some wrong choices, came back with his daughter. It took off from there :)

I last interviewed you a year ago, when you released Jane’s Long March Home (another book I loved, by the way).  It’s interesting to me that both of these have to do with navigating the past and how that past impacts the present.  Is this a theme you like to explore? 

It is. I strongly believe who we are today is largely informed by where we've been. I don't think you can completely know a person (or character) until you know where they've been. We wear many masks :) Another theme prevalent in my stories is finding family and the community where we can become the best we were meant to be.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? If so, which one and why?

My favorite scene is when Ben is upstairs in the house he wants to buy so he can make a home for his daughter. I love that he's a little nervous, but is determined to be the best dad he can be. Is there anything more sexy than that? I don't think so :)

Do you plan any more books set in Rosewood, Oregon?  If so, will it continue to use some of the same characters?

Yes, many more, I hope. Some of the same characters will make a return appearance. As a reader, I like to know how they're doing. Grant's story is next.

I'm so happy there will be many more books in Rosewood. Are you planning any readings, signings, or other travels where readers can hook up with you virtually or in person?

The Return Of Benjamin Quincy and I have a blog tour starting June 4th. We will go for a week. It's still being finalized. I'll put the details on my website as soon as I have them.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us at Behind the Book.

Thank you so much, Maggie for having me! It's always a pleasure :)

Dear Readers, I exhort you to run out and immediately download this book.  It really is wonderful. You can get it at many places on the net. I have it on my nook.  Here are two of the most popular download sites.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'm Back, Alive, and Well

Wow!  How is it that four months have disappeared into the ether already?  Oh yeah, now I remember. I started a new job in October. I telecommuted for two months until we sold our house in California.  We spent a month, including the Christmas holidays in a hotel in Portland waiting for our renters to move out of our house.

Let me tell you, spending a month with your husband in a one room hotel is a test of how well you do or don't communicate and what gets on your nerves. I'm proud to say not only are we still married, but I think we actually got closer during that month.  It reminded me of all the little things that made me fall in love with him in the first place.

We finally were able to get back into our Portland home in January.  I think most of January, when I wasn't working, I was unpacking and unpacking and unpacking. I finally unpacked the last box this weekend! Then there was all that travel--east coast, south, east coast, Middle East, east coast, and three trips to California to finish an adjunct teaching job I accepted before my new job.  Sheesh, I'm tired just writing all that.

I think I'm now as settled as I can be and that means I'm taking stock of all the things I let slip the last four months.  I have several great author interviews in process and you will start seeing them this week. So, please do check back and learn about some wonderful new books and authors you want to know. It's great to be back in Portland, Oregon and great to be back to my fiction writing life and friends again.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Matchmaking Fun -- Is it horrible mistake or happy ever after?

Hello readers! I know I've been away for awhile.  A moved from California back to Oregon (Yea!). A job change. (Yea!) And lots of details have kept me away from my blog.  But I am sooooooooooooo happy to be back and to present you with a fun book with a wonderfully, kind, funny, and talented woman.  Though this isn't your traditional Christmas story, I promise it will bring a smile to your face.

Please meet Jamie Brazil and her book Prince Charming, Inc.  You can't help but laugh, empathize, and root for the heroine in this book.  Whether you want a fun read, a bit of feminist treatise, or just a great romance, you can find it in this book.  I just finished it, and I am dying for the next one in the series. It meets all its promise and definitely portrays a modern woman that I love.

Let's get to know Jamie.

Prince Charming Inc. Book Cover This book and the series follow-on are in what I call the light-romantic-caper genre.  Would you agree?  What is it about this genre that calls to you?

The late Olivia Goldsmith, with her laugh-out-loud novels, is my idol.  Contemporary romance, especially fast-paced, funny stories, are my favorites. 

I understand you immigrated to the U.S. from another country.  Can you tell our readers where from and how that might influence your writing and your sense of humor?

  In Canada, British comedy rules the airwaves.  At least on the non-cable stations.  Fawlty Towers, Black Adder and the lotAnd just like the Brits, Canucks tend to watch the  same series over and over until we’ve committed every line of every episode to memory.  It’s a little OCD-ish.

A few years back, attending a writing conference in Corte Madera, I had the pleasure of meeting a major British author whose best-selling thrillers have been translated into almost every spoken language.  In his opening address, he marvelously ripped off some of Hugh Laurie’s best lines from Black Adder.  Talking with him later, I told him I knew where he’d cribbed his one-liners (because I do the same thing in conversations with family).  He smirked and said, “I only steal from the best.”  And then I proudly announced, “I’m Canadian.” He replied, “I’m sorry.”

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of their stories. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what? 

You got me.  I have a bit of a knack for matchmaking.  I’ve sworn off the habit these past few years, but yes, I’ve introduced several couples who’ve later married.  Including two literary agents. 

Are there more books planned in the series? I can see this going for a long time.  Anything you can share about future plots, release dates?

The next matchmaker book in the series is set in Seattle with a different heroine… in an entirely different end of the ready-made-relationships pool.  In the meantime, I’ve just Kindle-released another, quite different novel, “The Mayan Sisterhood.”  It will be a free download available on Amazon from Dec. 25th-Dec. 27th, 2011.

Prince Charming, Inc. is really a twist on the matchmaker concept.  TV typically has a matchmaker hook up "poor" good-looking women with (tends to be jerks) millionaire men, but in your story you are doing the opposite by finding solid, nice men for millionaire women.  What is it about this twist that drew you to the story?

I subscribe to O, am addicted to HGTV, and break out the glue gun on full moon nights to pursue some crafty remodel project that usually ends in disaster.  I’m so NOT crafty, though for some reason I delude myself into thinking I am.  So the fantasy of rebuilding a man is just an extension of my “let’s improve stuff” gene.  When I break out the feathers, sparkles, cinnamon sticks and yes, the glue gun, my husband disappears to the shed where he tinkers with his chainsaws until my madness passes, and I funnel that energy  back to the pursuit of writing.

So, to answer your question, Maggie, it was fixing up fictitious grooms or seeing a therapist.   

I love the whole "makeover the man" concept too.  I bet women the world over know good, solid men that only need a little help (or maybe they married that guy).  What was the brainstorm behind this idea?  Would you consider being a matchmaker as a business?

Matchmaking as business is a definite “no.”  Too hard to please everyone all the time.  I’ll stick with writing where I can play God and guarantee the outcomes for the characters.

Bloodhound Frankie
The concept for the series of matchmaking novels came from, drum roll please, dog-sharing with my neighbors.  Max was a Pitbull-Rhodesian-Ridgeback cross who stayed with us Monday-through-Friday, 8 a.m. ‘til his parents picked him up.  He’d drop in for “night snacks” and weekend visits, too.  He had us trained.  We had him trained.

Like Rex Von Terrance in Prince Charming, Inc., Max was the perfect dog without ever losing any of his gigantic, naturally territorial personality.  (We’ve all seen over-trained zombie dogs, right? All obedience, zero personality.)

So we had the ideal arrangement.  And one night, over a few gin and tonics, my husband and I were tossing around concepts and wondered out loud if spouses could be trained, too.  Just like that, a premise was hatched.

Max passed away in May of 2008 and we keep a picture of him in our kitchen.  We’ve since adopted another canine family member.  A Bloodhound named Frankie.  She’s a  loving, gentle, food-obsessed work-in-progress.  

Thanks for joining Behind the Book, Jamie!  I'm looking forward to the next matchmaking book, and I'm running out to download Mayan Sisterhood immediately.

You can get copies of Prince Charming Inc. at these fine distributors.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slaves, Curses, and the Sweetest Blood

Want to know what new series has so much buzz, I suspect it'll be a bestseller out of the box? It's Kristen Painter's new urban fantasy series about the House of Comarré. At the Romantic Times convention it got lots of interest. I've heard of readers dying to get ARCs.  And I have to say, it couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Here's the blurb for the first book in the new series.

Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle's body bears the telltale marks of a comarré -- a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world...and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign. 

Kristen's previous publications have all been solidly in the romance genre, including contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and steampunk. This is her first foray into urban fantasy, and it uses all of her talents in world-building, characterization, and imagination. I've long been a fan of the way Kristen builds worlds with description, mood, and themes. This world is one that twists both the vampire mythos and the urban fantasy genre.

Kristen Painter has long been a mentor and friend to many authors. She is also the co-founder of the amazing Romance Divas site which has supported authors since 2004.  On top of all that, I have loved her writing since I read her Viking paranormal fantasy, All Fired Up.   I've always loved her characters and the crazy way her mind works--a combination of serious thought and snark-- to imagine these worlds and the situations her characters encounter.  So, please welcome Kristen to the blog as we learn about her new series.

Vampires are certainly all the rage, but in your series you have a twist in that your heroine is NOT a vampire. She is a comarré.  Can you share what that means and how you came to choose the actual “bodily” servant of vampires as your heroine?

I've been carrying the idea of Chrysabelle in my head since I was in college - this seemingly docile girl with a gold tattoo who was actually much more than she seemed. It wasn't until I started writing Blood Rights that the idea for the comarré really came into being. They are a specially bred species of human raised to provide the vampire nobility with blood and in doing so, they protect mankind from the vampires.

The other unique twist with your story is that it is set in Florida.  I must admit that Florida and vampires are not a natural mix in my mind. New Orleans, New York, maybe Chicago.  But Florida?  What made you select Miami as a locale and how does the culture of your new Florida play into the story? 

Miami - or what it's become in my series, Paradise City, is made up of many nationalities, so what better spot to mix in some completely new and not entirely human nationalities? Also, vampires might abhor the sun, but they like warmth.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of their stories. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what? 

I've never been a vampire, a blood slave or a cat shifter, so no, there's not much of my personal life in this book. The emotions in the book - loss, anger, the sense of wanting to make one's own way in the world - those come from my real life experience, but everyone has emotions they can pull from. I hope those emotions ring true.

I love that you have back-to-back books in this series, so that readers don’t have to wait a year to find out what happens next.  Does Book 3 end your involvement in this world, or can your readers expect something more? 

There will be two more books in the House of Comarre series. And possibly a spin off series if my editor likes it.

I know you also have other books outside of this vampire world.  If a reader falls in love with this series and wants to explore your backlist, what would you suggest they read next? 

That's a tough one since the rest of my books are romances, whereas Blood Rights is much more urban fantasy. I'd say pick whatever looks good!

Thanks very much for joining Behind the Book, Kristen. I really believe this is a great world and I hope you have millions of readers who sign on to read about the House of Comarré.

Because I don't want to miss a single chance of reading these books, I decided to pre-order the whole set.  This means I'll have a new book every  month. I recommend other people do the same. Below I've linked to the whole set at two major retailers.  Of course, you can go to your local bookstore and pre-order as well or wait in line the end of this month for this one.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Cursed Viking Shapeshifters

 Today we are talking to Lisa Hendrix about her third book in the Immortal Brotherhood series, Immortal Champion.  With cursed Vikings who shapeshift, a well-researched history and mythos, and love that can last forever how could you not love the premise of this series?  All three of her books in this series have garnered the coveted Top Pick from Romantic Times book reviewers. The two review quotes below are reflective of the craftsmanship reviewers have recognized in her latest book.

Romantic Times Top Pick! Kathe Robin said [readers] "will be enthralled by Hendrix’s masterful storytelling and talent for seamlessly blending magic, myth and romance."

Romance Reviews, Lenore said "IMMORTAL CHAMPION is a glorious book that begs to be read. From the eye-catching cover art to the depths of the pages, readers will be enthralled by Lisa Hendrix's craftsmanship."

Please welcome Lisa Hendrix to Behind the Book.  Pull up chair and get to know more about Lisa, her series, how each character matches perfectly with his animal self, and more specifically learn about this wonderful third book in the series, Immortal Champion.

These three words--medieval, paranormal, and romance--aren't often seen together, but it's sooooo cool. What made you chose the Middle Ages as the setting for your Immortal Brotherhood series?

First, I love medieval romance. My introduction to historical romance was Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove, and even before that I loved the whole Robin Hood, knights and ladies, storm-the-castle thing, so that’s where my heart lies. And then there’s the fact that my guys are Viking warriors. Since the Vikings started raiding England heavily during the mid-800s, that was when my guys were cursed. All the stories would have to take place in the centuries following.

And really, can you think of a better setting for a paranormal story? Gloomy castles, windswept moors, the Black Death, alchemists...

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of their stories. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what?

Well, Gunnar is a bit like my husband in that he’s an ordinary man, just trying to get by and live his life with honor. (Perhaps that’s why I love Gunnar so much. Hmmm.) I’ve also loosely modeled a few minor characters on folks I’ve known over the years, and used real incidents for bits of action in my various books.

Additionally, I have a degree in biology, and that (and a lot of research) informs the stories in this series. The animal each man becomes reflects the human personality of each man. You can see the raven in Ari’s love of bright objects and talkativeness, the bull in Gunnar’s way of stubbornly plodding ahead no matter what, the wolf in Jafri’s sullen wariness, the eagle in Ivar’s loyalty to his mate, and so on.

To date you've published 3 books in this series, and it looks like book 4 is due next year. How many more can your readers expect in this world? Will the timeline of later books extend beyond the middle ages?

Though the first three of the Immortal Brotherhood books are set in medieval times (1096, 1290, and 1405-15), the entire series will span approximately a thousand years, with the next one set in Elizabethan times (1583), and the others working their way forward in time up to the present. After all, if a group of men are immortal, you wouldn’t expect them all to find their true loves in the same three-week period one summer.

But I would like to clear up something. “This world” is the real world of England. I make everything as historically accurate as I can, except for the warriors themselves and the magic of the curse. They are simply men, forced by the curse to try to make their way in a very un-magical world where (at least for the first books) most good men and women fear the very idea of magic. That’s part of the fun of this series to me. What do you do if you turn into a bear every day at sunrise, or a dog every night? How to you create any semblance of a normal life when you’re hunted as a beast for half of each day and considered a demon during the rest? How on earth can you find companionship, much less real love, when they’re burning ‘witches’ all around you?

As for numbers: I’m planning nine books, one for each of the men. I’ve introduced most of the crew in the first three books, and readers will meet the last two warriors, Rorik and Ketil (aka Kjell), in next year’s book, Immortal Defender, when the pair of them interrupt their wenching to ride to Torvald’s aid. They are, to say the least, the worst scalawags of the bunch. 

If someone was just starting the series, would you recommend they start with Book 1? Does it matter which book they read first?

 Immortal Warrior (Book 1) does have the “creation myth” for the whole series, plus it introduces Brand, the captain, and Ari, his friend and skald, who are the crucial characters for the series. But each book has a Prologue that consists of a section of Ari’s written chronicle or saga, which ties the stories together and lets the reader catch up on the story without missing a beat. I work hard to make each book stand alone, so you really can start anywhere, and then go back to pick up the others. Gunnar, from Immortal Champion, really is my favorite, though, (and my editor’s and agent’s, for that matter), and I think his story makes a wonderful place to jump in.

What's next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?

As I said, Immortal Defender is coming next August 2012, and quiet, monkish Torvald has a real adventure in store after he bumps into Josian Delamere one night. You see, Josian is definitely not the shy, virgin widow of romance mythology. She’s talkative, quick, and shall we say...a bit fast.  In other words, she’s a true merry widow for the contemplative man I sometimes refer to as my Zen Viking. She boldly invites Torvald to come on up to Chestershire and see her sometime, and oh my, do the sparks fly. But madmen, zealots, and ancient magic conspire to destroy them, and it will take all the courage each of them has to beat back the darkness and find their way to freedom and love.

Since I’m one of the slower writers in the biz and people are already emailing me that they’re getting impatient, I’ve decided to self-publish a short story to tide everyone over. I’m not sure yet whether it will be about Tom, Ivar’s squire from Immortal Warrior, or Robin/Robert from Immortal Outlaw. I have stories for both churning around in my head, so we’ll see which one won’t leave me alone after I finish my current WIP. Or maybe I’ll write both. All I’m certain of right now is that my newsletter subscribers will get it for free. (How’s that for a bribe? Sign-up for the newsletter here.)

And finally, I’ll be republishing my out of print works in ebook format over the next several months. Readers should sign up for my newsletter to keep up with the news.

Wow! You certainly have a lot going on with free reads, a long series, and a newsletter to keep us all up to date.

Thank you so much for joining us, Lisa.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to download books 2 and 3 right now!  I liked book 1, Immortal Warrior, but then I got busy and the next two slipped by without me buying them. This interview convinced me I was missing out. 

Be sure to visit Lisa's website, where you can find excerpts from all the books, interactive maps of the locations, and info on how to get some fun swag. (like cool romance trading cards)

Below are links to all of Lisa's books in this series.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Strong Women Through The Ages

 Karen Harper is a NYT bestselling author.  She writes both contemporary and historical novels.  I must admit, she is a new author to me.  However, as I prepared for this interview I was very impressed with her output (over 30 books since the mid-80s), her strong heroines, and with her intelligent and thoughtful approach to her stories. Karen's historical novels have been praised for her  attention to detail and for making the characters truly come to life. Her historical novels tend to be in the Tudor or Medieval periods of history.  The Romantic Times Book Club said of her contemporary Amish suspense novels:

“Multidimensional characterization, fascinating details about Amish culture and a twisting, complex plot make for the kind of rich reading experience readers have come to expect from Harper.” 

I must admit, when I learned that Karen had been a professor at The Ohio State University, I had an immediate affinity for her.  I began my academic career in Columbus, Ohio at Franklin University (known as the other university in Columbus).  Through RWA I have learned there are many academics who write wonderful romantic fiction, and every time I meet someone new I smile.
Please join me in welcoming Karen Harper as she talks about her career, and the two books released in the past two weeks. The Queen's Governess, her historical released in paperback, and Fall from Pride, a suspense novel set in Amish country.

You write both contemporary and historical fiction.  It seems what binds them together is a suspense or mystery element.  What is it about suspense that draws you to write these stories?

My contemporary books have much more suspense than my historicals, although the thrill of the heroine escaping disaster is prominent in both genres.  Above all, I love a story of a woman who conquers huge odds with the help of the man she comes to love.  My “amateur sleuths” in my romantic suspense novels don’t set out to be crime solvers.  Something terrible impacts their lives, and they have to find and stop the criminal. 

Another common element in my writing is a culture clash of some sort:  the hero and heroine come from different worlds.  This may mean one is a commoner and one nobility in my Tudor novels.  In my contemporaries, I’ve lately been fascinated by a mismatch of one Amish character and one ”worldly.”

Most often the woman is Amish and the hero an auslander or outsider.  That means, when they are thrown together to solve a crime, they learn a lot about each other’s worlds.  Besides, what is more interesting than forbidden love?  If an Amish person dares to fall in love with or marry a worldly person, the community of Plain People will shun them—a big price to pay.

In my current rom/sus, Fall From Pride, Amish Sarah Kauffman and worldly arson investigator Nate MacKenzie are forced to work together to solve a series of barn arsons.  As the barns blaze, their feelings for each other do too.

But as to your original question that does suspense draw me to write my stories, that is true also.  I love for each character to have a secret—to be hiding something.  Aren’t we all?  Suspense comes in many forms:  how members of the same family can be so different…how two opposites can fall in love…how a seemingly “good” person can commit a crime.  One of the best comments I get is, “I had no idea that person could be the killer until the very end!”

 In your most recent release, Fall From Pride, your heroine is Amish.  It seems rare to see an Amish novel that is not marketed as an inspirational.  What was the spark that led you to come up with this story, and how did that spark blossom through your characters?

It’s true that most Amish novels are inspirational fiction today.  Mine are suitable for those readers and a broader audience.  They are not faith-based per se—though with the Amish beliefs, that always comes in a bit.  I’m not writing to get on a current, popular “bandwagon,” as I began writing my Amish books ten years ago, including:  Down To The Bone, Dark Road Home, Dark Harvest and Dark Angel.  (The last three have been re-released twice more recently.)  My spark for these, as well as for my Aug. 2011 Amish novel, Fall From Pride, is simply my fascination with and familiarity with the Amish. 

I live two hours from their largest US settlement (Holmes County, Ohio, not Lancaster, Pennsylvania anymore!)  I’ve studied them, mingled with them and learned from them for years.  Because they live isolated, rural lives with no phones in the home, “slow” transportation, mistrust of police and lawyers, they make perfect subjects for suspense novels. 

After all, they often must solve their own problems.  They do call in outside help at times, but they can’t/won’t just “call the cops.”  Also, they’re pacifists and don’t fight back physically against evil; therefore, they must find other clever, careful ways to protect themselves.  And yes, I must admit, that sometimes means cooperating with an arson investigator, sheriff or FBI agent who is thrust upon them.

Your reputation is one of writing “proto feminist” heroines in your historicals which seems anathema to the historical genre (except in romantic fiction).  What is it about how you choose and form your characters that interests you in exploring power dynamics?

The heroines in all my historicals are real, dynamic women who actually lived, so I write historical novels with romance rather than historical romance.  I try to keep my main characters true to their times, but these are not weak women and I research their lives carefully.  My heroines pulled themselves out of difficult situations and triumphed in life.  Each of them has a great love story. 
Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, is one of these in my The Last Boleyn.  My Boleyn book was published about 20 years before Philippa Gregory wrote The Other Boleyn Girl, and our takes on her are completely different.  (Check out Alison Weir’s Oct. 2011 nonfiction book on Mary if you want to see which author came closest to the real person!)

Joan of Kent (The First Princess of Wales) rose from obscurity to marry the Black Prince; Kat Ashley (The Queen’s Governess) was the once impoverished woman who became Elizabeth Tudor’s governess and foster mother; Elizabeth Fitzgerald (The Irish Princess) was the Irish spitfire who dared to challenge the Tudors.  Each woman (at least eventually) wed the man she really loved—a bit of a novelty for those days—so that sounds a bit modern too.  In Mistress Shakespeare, the heroine stands up for herself against great odds.  My nine-book series the Queen Elizabeth I Mysteries focuses on the queen herself—her happy marriage was to her nation.

Most authors either purposefully or subconsciously use parts of their own lives in their novels.  Do you find yourself in these two novels?  If so, in what way?

 My books, of course, reflect my interests and world view.  The assured, take-charge heroes are my ideal kind of man.  And all my books are ultimately uplifting:  true grit and love conquers all, even deadly crimes.   There is always a triumphant, happy ending in a Harper novels.

 Is there a particular scene in each book that you really loved when you finished it?  Which ones and why?

I love reunions scenes, be they between lovers or families.  Also, I am an author who must write about the settings I know well and love.  Many authors start with character or plot, but I almost always begin with a place I relate to emotionally.  That helps the story and people in it to come alive for me and, hopefully, for my readers.  And how do I know when to stop researching and start the story?  When the characters start talking to each other and I have to scramble to write what they say.  

 What’s next for you?

I have already written Return To Grace, book 2 of the Home Valley Amish trilogy, which will be out in March.  Book 3, Finding Mercy, is almost through the planning stages and ready to come to life.  In the historicals, I have recently completed Mistress of Mourning, a book set in 1500 where the Medieval world clashed with the English Renaissance.  Mistress of Mourning is a historical mystery probing whether Prince Arthur Tudor (Henry VIII’s older brother) was murdered and what happened to the Princes in the Tower, a long-time debated historical mystery.  The book has two heroines, Queen Elizabeth of York, mother of Henry VIII, and Varina Westcott, a merchant-class candle-maker and death mask wax carver, who, with the hero, solves the murders of the queen’s brothers and son. 

My big author news of the year is that I now have a British publisher for my historicals and a recent review said they would never have guessed I was American and not English.  I hope all my books seem that real and “right on” in bringing people and places to exciting life.

Thank you for joining me at Behind the Book.  I can barely wait to begin reading Fall From Pride!

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