Well, I am the fourth of five sisters, so I have first hand knowledge of growing up in a large family and I know just how special the bonds of sisterhood are. I love my sisters dearly and don’t know what I would do without them. I thought I it would be fun to write about a family like that.
Oh, very loosely. There are common personality traits that most older sisters and younger sisters have and that comes across in my books. The character of Colette is the eldest sister who likes to take care of the other sisters, which is true of my oldest sister, but Colette is not based on her. I’m sure our friends and family try to figure out who is who, but as I’ve said, any similarities are purely coincidental.
This is probably the most frequently asked question of every writer and the one that I get asked constantly. I don’t know that I have a specific answer. Sometimes the ideas just come to me, other times I really have to sit and think about what to write. Often inspiration comes while I’m listening to music or driving my car or I’ll work out an idea before I go to sleep at night. I’m always thinking, playing with story lines in my head. I usually have a general plot idea in mind before I sit down to write. And then the characters just start talking to me.
That is so difficult to say… Some books were more challenging to write than others. I love Secrets of a Duchess, because that was my first book and I wrote it with no deadline. And I truly enjoyed It Happened One Christmas. That book almost wrote itself and I loved the Christmas theme.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 full-time job and raising my son!
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 and on an old typewriter!
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. Remain positive and just do it. No one can read your book if you never write it down.
Top 10 Favorite Books:
1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
2. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
3. Katherine by Anya Seton
4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
5. Time and Again by Jack Finney
6. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
7. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
8. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
10. The Help by Katherine Stockett
Top 10 Favorite Romances:
1. Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
2. Paradise by Judith McNaught
3. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
4. Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory
5. The Duke by Gaelen Foley
6. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
7. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
8. His Mistress by Morning by Elizabeth Boyle
9. Call Down the Moon by Katherine Kingsley
10. Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney
Top 10 Favorite Childhood Books
1. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
5. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
6. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
7. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
8. An Old-Fashioned Girl by L.M. Montgomery
9. No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion
10. Good Neighbors by Diane Redfield Massie
Top 10 Favorite Romantic Movies
1. Gone With the Wind
2. Somewhere in Time
3. The Notebook
4. Love, Actually
5. A Summer Place
6. Sleepless in Seattle
7. An Affair to Remember
8. The Quiet Man
9. My Fair Lady
10. Bridget Jones’ Diary