Q&A with Kaitlin O'Riley


How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

This is probably the question most frequently asked of me, and probably asked of most writers. I'm sure each author has her own methods of inspiration. As for myself, my ideas come to me in different ways. Sometimes I just close my eyes and imagine. Other times ideas come to me while listening to music. I often get inspiration from conversations with my family and friends. A lot of my writing, especially the dialogue, happens naturally, while I'm writing at the computer. The characters I've created will just start talking.

Why do you write historical romance?

Because I love the genre and always have! I'm also a bit of a history buff. Past eras fascinate me. I love the elegant clothing, the styles, the mannerisms, and the confining societal elements make great plot points. The past always seems more romantic and since it has already happened it's so easy to idealize it. (Even when I look back to the 1980's!) Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century, but then again I couldn't do without some of the modern comforts, like air conditioning and electricity.

Are your characters based on people you know in real life?

Now that's a tricky question and one that could get me in trouble. I suppose most of the characters are combinations of everyone I know or have ever known. I don't think I have ever intentionally based one particular character on one particular person. (And if I did, I'm not telling who it was!) However, I do use names of family members and my friends for characters and even add the names of local places from my hometown in my books. I love doing this because it's fun for the people who know me and the people I mention.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

They are all my favorites in different ways. But I must say I enjoyed writing my first book, Secrets of a Duchess, the most, because it was the only book that was not written on a deadline. I wrote out of sheer pleasure and only when I felt like it. Deadlines definitely change things.

Do you have a favorite character from your books?

Not really because it's too hard to choose. I must confess that I do have more fun writing the "bad" characters, like Madeline Maxwell in Secrets of a Duchess and Susana Kavanaugh in One Sinful Night. They get to say and do all the nasty things I sometimes wish I could say and do, but never would in a million years. From the Hamilton Sisters Series, I also loved writing Genevieve Hamilton, because she says whatever she wants. And says it in French! Writing Juliette Hamilton was fun because she was so spirited and I could have her do whatever she wanted. Of course, I have a soft spot for the character of Jeffrey Eddington, too.

How do you come up with the names of your characters?

For my main characters, I do research on names, usually choosing names that I like or call to me in some way. Some characters names come into my head in an instant, such as Vivienne Montgomery in One Sinful Night. Other names I play around with for a while until they sound right. But once I name a character, it's very, very hard for me to change it. They are who they are, especially once they start talking in dialogue. Their name instantly becomes part of who they are and I can't think of them as anyone else. For my secondary characters, and especially for minor characters, I play around with the names of friends and family. I've used names of friends from high school and college too. It makes me smile when I'm writing and they get a kick out of it when they read my book. It also lets me know if they've actually read my books or not!

How often do you write?

I should be more disciplined when I write, but I confess that I am not. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, but that doesn't always happen. Sometimes it's much more than that, and there are times when I go weeks and weeks without writing anything at all. However, when my deadline for a book is nearing, I'm amazed at how much I can write!

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

That depends on the deadline. I spent almost ten years writing Secrets of a Duchess, because I wrote only when I felt like it. I wrote One Sinful Night in about a year and When His Kiss Is Wicked I wrote in six months. So anywhere from a year to six months is pretty much the average. All while working at a full-time job and raising my son!

Who are your favorite authors and what is your favorite book?

I love reading and I have many authors whose work I admire. I'll read anything by Philippa Gregory. I enjoy Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, and Judith Ivory, among others. My all-time, hands-down favorite book is Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. And to think she wrote most of it by hand on an old typewriter!

Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?

If you love to write, then just write for yourself. Write what you love. Read what you love. Join a writers group. Romance Writers of America is an amazing organization if you want to write romance. Join your local chapter. And remain positive.

Do you plan to write in another genre someday?

I think I would like to write something else eventually, but I'm enjoying historical romance right now.