No, I don’t write vampire novels, but I do write both contemporary and historical fiction. For the last ten years of my twenty-five-year writing career, I have written one romantic suspense novel and then one historical novel—back and forth. I have a writer’s split personality since it takes different skills and research techniques to do both. I love reading and writing in two genres and in two times, but it does have its challenges as well as its rewards.
For my contemporary romantic suspense novels, I can visit the settings for my story and interview people who live there or have the same careers as my hero and heroine. For THE HIDING PLACE (Nov. 2008), I spent a week in the Rocky Mountains outside Denver. I was able to interview men with dogs trained as trackers. I took two classes to learn about how my female P.I. would work, one class from a tracer who looks for lost people, and one from a female private investigator.
When I write my Elizabethan novels (most recently, THE LAST BOLEYN and MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE), I can, at least, still visit my settings. Nothing like a research trip to England! The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Greenwich—and museums, of course—help me to understand Elizabeth Tudor and her times. Although I can’t interview anyone from that era, the Elizabethans were great recorders of their lives: diaries, lists of their possessions, wills, books, and, of course, their literature such as poems and plays. I even have a reference book of the poems, prayers and speeches the queen herself wrote. All of that helps my characters to come alive for me, and, hopefully, for the reader too.
One of the great things about being a writer is that I learn so much about things I would not ordinarily know. I hope my readers not only enjoy my books for great entertainment and emotion, but also for a fun, easy way to become more educated. Whether writing the past or the present, that’s my goal.