A superhero who writes permission slips? Read on and find out…
If you were to write the ‘origins episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
My earliest efforts were short stories based on fairy tales. I remember reading “The Ant Who Cried Wolf” (complete with an aphid-devouring Ladybird Beetle Dragon) at our home school group’s “Oral Presentations Day”. After the fairy tale phase, I fell in love with poetry. Tennyson was my first favorite (encountered via Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d) , and I wrote a few of my own verses featuring Lancelot and Tristan. Later, I became drawn to the Metaphysical Poets and tried to emulate George Herbert’s works. In my late teen years I had a few false starts in novel writing (mostly pieces of fantasy novels, written while under the influence of Robin McKinley and/or J.R.R. Tolkien), but it wasn’t till a few years after college that I found my true love–writing historical fiction.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
I have several secret identities–all the better to throw any suspicious snoopers off the trail. My primary secret identity is being a SAHM with four boys three and under…although that might be more accurately described as a WAHM since I also work as an editor at my own publishing company and do admin work for a private school.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
Partners in crime would mostly include my husband. He is a huge encouragement to my writing (and other pursuits!). One day he told me he would rather have me get my writing done than keep the house clean–how’s that for a great partner in crime?
Where do you get your superpowers from?
My superpowers mostly come from extensive reading. I am a “retired” History and English teacher, and reading medieval primary sources as teaching prep has inspired me with more than one story that needs to be made into a novel.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
My lair is not so secret…more like the couch in my living room where I snatch a few minutes of writing time whenever I can. 🙂
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you ensure they are used only for good?
Even when I cannot find time for fiction writing, I am always writing, and I find that writing of any kind can help to keep your superpowers “in shape.” With my school admin job, I get to draft field trip permission slips, policy booklets, etc., and with my editing, I get to immerse myself in other writers’ work, whether fiction or nonfiction. And then, of course, I write a historical essay each month for the English Historical Fiction Authors blog to keep my history superpowers up to speed.
Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
It would look very…strange. Probably a combination of a Regency ball gown and a Crusader’s suit of armor (if such a thing can be imagined), since those are the two periods I’m currently working in with my two WIPs.
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Kids. Making time to write when you’re a mom is difficult. I love being able to stay home with my kids, but I’m also going to be just a teensy-weensy bit glad when they’re old enough to go to school. 🙂
What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
The supervillain is probably lack of time. How did I vanquish it? Um…still working on that. I have two projects both about 2/3 done, and I am really hoping 2014 will see the completion of both of them.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Humility–be prepared to admit that you have never “arrived” in the sense of being a perfect writer, and be prepared to take advice from others on how to keep perfecting your craft.
My favorite moment as a writer was my Book Release Party when my second novel Road from the West came out. A friend of ours owns an independent bookstore and over 70 people turned out for a book reading/signing. I felt so blessed.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
If I were starting over, I would probably use more beta readers and ask for more advice on my beginning project. There were a few errors in it I could have prevented by getting more input. One thing I wouldn’t change is choosing to write the kind of book that I have always loved to read. Medieval historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, and I am thrilled to have been able to contribute to that genre with my own work.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Just do it. The difference between people who want to be authors and people who are authors is putting in the time and doing whatever it takes to get the words onto the page. I don’t have time to sit around for inspiration to strike like lightning. I have perhaps a 30-45 minute window while the two youngest are taking a nap and the two eldest are watching a cartoon. It’s very much a tortoise and the hare situation, and I have to work in steady increments (at whatever time of day suits other people’s schedules) to get writing projects finished. So my advice? Persevere!
It’s been a while since my latest novel was released (Road from the West, a novel of the First Crusade came out in 2011), but I’m hoping to change that this year. The latest book with my work in it is an anthology called Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors. It’s a compilation of essays from the EHFA blog, and I have some fun pieces in there about how Anno Domini dating started, William the Conqueror’s early years, and the Black Plague. There are around fifty authors featured in the book, and each of the essays will pique your interest about a person, a place, or a period of history. If I recall correctly, there’s a certain essay about Regency-era laundry in there by the illustrious Maria Grace…. 😉
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I am currently working on Flower of the Desert, the sequel to Road from the West. The Crusaders will be getting to Jerusalem in this book and there’s lots of fighting, intrigue, and even some romance. I’m also working on a Regency novel of romantic suspense–working title is To Wed an Heiress–a murder mystery a la Georgette Heyer.
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