Does this book have a special meaning to you? i.e. where you found the idea, its symbolism, its meaning, who you dedicated it to, what made you want to write it?
This book has special meaning for me on a couple of different levels. First, I love the heroine. She’s outspoken, bold, spontaneous—a true bluestocking. She’s been well educated by an indulgent father, and she’s allowed a certain amount of freedom. But she knows society’s rules and when her father dies, she’ll be at the mercy of those rules and her independence will be curtailed. His health is poor, she’s been told she has to marry, so she goes out and find her own husband. She’s a little before her time in her thinking, but England was on the verge of an industrial revolution, changes were occurring and women were on the cusp of coming into their own. Gwen reflects this.
Second, I wanted to write a marriage of convenience trope, but I wanted it to be one the hero and heroine enter with eyes wide open and who like each other. Many begin with the characters not in charity who are forced to enter the marriage. Mine had choices. They chose each other.
Third, I dedicated this book to Mary Balogh, a prolific author of Regency romances. Her books hooked me on the genre and I will always be grateful.
Where do you get your storylines from?
Storylines can come from anywhere: work, personal experiences, life events happening around you. Writers have to be keen observers of the world. I often study people standing in lines, dining in restaurants, busy at jobs, attending meetings or events. For fun, I give them histories. My husband shakes his head and laughs at me.
I lived in the Northern California wine country for over twenty years and many of my contemporary novels are about people in the wine industry. An actual news story became the opening scene in one of my books. I’ve made wine and grown grapes, so that knowledge helped me write two other books.
My historical romances are a little different in that they are more heavily dependent on relationships. My first Regency, Scandal’s Child, was about a woman who was abandoned by a lover, meets him again when she discovers the child she’s been taking care of is his ward, and has to decide whether to walk away or stay. Scandal’s Bride came about because Gwen, a character in the first book, was an interesting woman who needed her own story. I’ve also written a historical romance set in the early California rancho period just before the war between Mexico and the United States. This period is an area in which I have some expertise. Many books are written about the Gold Rush. I like the rich, romantic history of the decade before.
Was this book easier or more difficult to write than others? Why?
Regencies are more difficult for me because aristocratic society was totally bound by rules and I am not an expert in the period. I’ve read other authors extensively and I belong to the Beau Monde chapter of Romance Writers of America, a chapter with lots of good resources. But I made mistakes in the first book. Readers didn’t seem to care, but I did. I was more careful with Scandal’s Bride and by removing her from the eyes of her London peers, my heroine was able to get away with more.
Do you only write one genre?
As I mentioned earlier, I also write contemporary romance and have two series underway. The first is the Love in Wine Country series about a Mexican-American family. There are books for the three Reynoso sisters and three Reynoso male cousins. The books are set in Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast. There is some character overlap in my Love in Wine Country novellas, set in the fictional coastal town of Santa Marta. This series has four novellas with a fifth set to be released in November.
My historical romances include the scandal series with a third book underway and the early California series with a second book in edits. I suspect the only time I many branch out might be to write a non-fiction book about cruising on a 32-foot boat for eight months as a white-knuckle cruising spouse. I survived, but it was touch and go.
Give us a picture of where you write, where you compose these words…is it Starbucks, a den, a garden…we want to know your inner sanctum?
I get up around five o’clock in the morning, make coffee, get a snack, and sit down to write in the living room. I have a desk, but it is too high for my laptop, so I sit on a comfortable couch with the laptop perched on a lap desk. I write every day, usually three or four hours, except when distracted by social media. I’ve also written at a table in a boat, in a coffee shop, many airports, in the waiting room of doctors’ offices, in a moving car, and hotel lobbies. I even wrote in a casino restaurant in Las Vegas once. Most days I am writing at home and I grab an extra hour or two throughout the day.
And finally, of course…was there any specific event or circumstance that made you want to be a writer?
When I was six years old my three-year-old brother died of leukemia. It was traumatic for my parents, and life-changing for me. I went from being an aggressive, outgoing first-born child to a quiet, introspective loner. I turned to reading and to wandering in the small town where we lived, making up stories in my head, turning inanimate objects into people with stories. As early as the fourth grade, I began to write. My first paid job was writing a column in the local newspaper when I was in high school. My first jobs were in journalism and my first book—a local history—was commissioned and written when I was twenty-nine. Other history book assignments followed. While I dabbled in fiction, I didn’t pursue it until decades later. Scandal’s Bride is my twelfth romance.