Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a medical transcriptionist and I work from home. I work for a local company that finds work for me all over, so I do psychiatric and social work dictations for a group in Wisconsin, and I also do dictations for an orthopedist clinic in Oklahoma. Other than that, I like to walk, exercise, garden, read (of course!), and hang out with my family and friends.
When did you start writing?
I started writing for fun after I graduated high school. I wrote a very rough civil war love story out in my backyard under the maple trees at our picnic table on an old manual typewriter. (That’s how old I am, ha ha.) I never tried to have that book published; it was purely for fun. I then started writing my first real novel, Wellington Cross, in the 1990s but was rejected by publishers, changed it many times, and put it aside for many years until I looked at it again and finally self-published it in 2012.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
I think it was probably the first time I received a 5-star review on my book from someone I didn’t know. That gives an author so much self-esteem, unlike anything else…except when you actually get to meet that person. I have a fan who drove three hours to meet me at a book signing I was participating in at a local library – I think that was the ultimate in self-esteem and helped give me the steam to keep writing.
You write both historical Romance and Paranormal romance. Which genre is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough one. I really love both. There are things I like about both genres. With historical romance, I love feeling like I’m back in time and wondering what it was like to live in simpler times. I love imagining what it was like to live on a plantation, and I love history. The hard part about writing historical fiction is all the research. Did they have this or that or did they say this back then? That makes the process longer. As far as the paranormal romance, I have always been interested in supernatural beings, since I first saw the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz movie. I was terrified of her when I was young, and yet I used to walk around and pretend to be her, acting out scenes from the movie. I used to read Little Lulu comic books of my brother’s, too, and my favorite stories were the ones involving witches. It’s a wonder I haven’t written my own witch-themed books yet, ha ha. (I plan to get to that one of these days.) Of course, I’ve loved the Harry Potter book series as well as movies. My son grew up right along with Harry, so that made it special to me. There are countless other books, TV shows, and movies that inspired me to write paranormal, but I started writing my first paranormal novel after reading the first Twilight book. I loved the forbidden love between a human girl and a vampire. I decided to write my own forbidden love story, but instead of vampires, I wanted to use angels. I thought, how cool would it be to fall in love with your guardian angel?
Is it difficult writing two different genres that are so different from each other? Do you ever find yourself wanting to write paranormal in to your historicals accidently? (I totally would hahaha)
For the first question, the way I’ve done it so far is I’ve written 3 of the historical, back to back, then 2 paranormal, then back to do 3 more historical. The reason I did this was because when I wrote the paranormal novels, I decided to tie them back to the Wellingtons from the historical series. Therefore, for the second question, I added a couple of descendants of the Wellington family into the paranormal series. But before I continue book 3 in the paranormal series, I needed to go back to the historical series and add in a new character who would tie in to the third paranormal series. I don’t want to say too much about it just yet. I thought long and hard about combining the series in that way, but I’ve read other books that do this, like Jude Deveraux writing about all the Montgomery’s and Taggert’s and adding in supernatural elements like ghosts. I’ve come up with so many notes and ideas that I think it will be a good story and a lot of unexpected OMG moments, for people who enjoy both series.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
I would love to go to house on a lake where it’s peaceful, beautiful, and most of all, QUIET. I LOVE to write outside (weather permitting), but living in a suburban neighborhood, it’s hard to achieve the quietness I need sometimes.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
Write for two of those and sleep for the other two. I never seem to have enough of either of these.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
I plan to write a backstory series in the 1700’s for the early Wellingtons. The series will start in England and Ireland and then make its way to America (by ship, of course) with a character who will become involved with the Revolutionary War. I have already been to both Ireland and England for fun, of course, and for research, to get a feel for the countries. I also am lucky to live so close to Colonial Williamsburg, which has a wealth of information pertaining to life in the 1700’s. I look forward to writing this series.
Back to your present book, Wellington Beaus, how did you publish it?
I self-published it through Createspace for the paperback and they converted it over to Kindle for me, all through Amazon. I like making my own book covers, using my pictures and the templates with Createspace. I took the picture for this book cover in an adjoining neighborhood; the gazebo is actually a rest stop for a golf course.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
For Wellington Beaus, I write about one plantation in particular in all of the Wellington books, my inspiration for the Wellington Cross Plantation, and that is Berkeley Plantation. I’ve been there many times for house and garden tours, as well as to their annual thanksgiving celebration, and this past year, I was able to have a canopy set up and sold some of my books there. I also have visited other plantations and inns which inspired other homes that I write about – Weston Manor is my inspiration for Godfrey Wellington’s Wellington Manor, and 200 South Street Inn in Charlottesville, VA, is my inspiration for the Adams House (boarding house), which is on the cover of Wellington Belle. I love traveling to old historical places and learning about their history and imagining my own stories in them.
Why was writing Wellington Beaus so important to you?
In my historical series, I have been spreading stories out with about five years between the books, but for this one, I chose to stay at the same time period as book 4. I wanted to write more about the new characters that I fell in love with, and so I picked this one up right where the last one left off. I had ideas and plans for the new people, and certain events that had to happen, and it’s better to see that firsthand sometimes than thinking back to the past.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
I usually get my best ideas when I’m outside walking, listening to music. Sometimes the words in the songs inspire scenes in my head. I also do a lot of “what if…” thinking, like Stephen King talks about in On Writing. What if this happened, or what if that happened…can do a lot of good for a writer.
What are you currently working on? Do you have any new projects released in the coming months? If so, tell us about them.
I am currently working on book 6 in the Wellington Cross series. It might be titled, Wellington Letters. It will be three years down the road from Beaus, as my friend and fellow author reminded me that there was a Spanish-American War in 1898. I think wars are interesting times, and so I came up with a storyline for that war, but I also decided to write about a character from book 2, Wellington Grove, who was a cousin of the main character. Her name is Judy and she was a Southern woman who fell in love with a Union soldier during the Civil War. I wanted to go back and tell her story, and I’ve had an enjoyable time writing it. I will weave her story into the story of her nephew Liam, who goes to Cuba as a doctor in the Spanish-American War. I hope to have this ready for publication in the fall of this year.
These are the super fun get to know the author questions. Basically similar to Would you rather. Pick 5
Q: Winter or Summer? Between these two, summer, but I actually love spring and fall the best.
Q: Salad or Soup? Salad, almost every day, usually at lunch.
Q: Swimming in a lake or the ocean? Ocean – I live in Virginia Beach, so I know what it’s like to swim in the ocean, how deep it is, and generally what lives in it. There are too many unknowns at a lake, how deep, what creatures, depth, or whether there are rocks or other things lurking on the bottom.
Q: Coffee or Soda? Decaf coffee, every day.
Q: Sausage or Bacon? Bacon definitely.
Q: Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise? As far as looks go, Brad Pitt – because he’s way cuter to me, and because Tom reminds me too much of my brother! Ha ha.