Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
A: This is the most common, but easiest question to answer. Sometimes a scene in a movie, or something I hear or read about, sparks something. For Tame the Wild Wind (comes out next May!), I had heard the term "claim jumper" and thought about what would happen if two people claimed the same piece of land. Take away their money and means to fight in court, and add a steamy southwestern backdrop - and you have a story! Sometimes a costume book will suggest a character.
Q: How do you choose characters' names?
A: I try not to pick ones based on people I know - and there will never be a character named Anna or any form of that for modesty reasons! But variations on the A names I do like - several of my novels have a heroine with an "A" name - The Emerald Hawk's Arianne, The Outlaw's Bride's Abigail, The Boundless Sea's Arabella, and The Captain's Lady's Amanda. I guess I choose "A names more often than not because, like most authors, as I'm writing, I see part of myself as the main character. It's easier to get into someone's head and write from their POV if I associate with them. But strangely, once the book is finished and I read it back, I am no longer that character but an innocent bystander! Incidentally, I would never name a heroine my daughter's name, even though she was named for Meggie in The Thorn Birds, one of my favorite novels. I also have a character naming book and try to pick names that fit the characters, often changing them early on until the fit is right. The Boundless Sea's Philip may change, but Arabella won't.
Q: Tell me about Miss Bennett in Love.
A: This is the first Regency novel I've written and I'm very excited and pleased with it. I still have final editing to do and some filler scenes, but it's pretty much done. Miss Bennett is Mary Bennett, the middle sister from Pride & Prejudice. It is not written in the vein of Jane Austen at all, but it is an accurately drawn historical novel. I always liked Mary's character and thought that, beneath her prim and austere exterior, lurked the heart of a true romantic. She meets a dashing colonel who is heir to an earldom. So our little Mary becomes a countess. I will be searching for an agent for this novel soon and hope it will be the "breakout" novel I've been waiting for! This is the first in a trilogy I plan to write about the younger sisters of P&P - so next will be Miss Darcy in Love, and Miss Lucas in Love.
Q: What is your inspiration for The Boundless Sea?
A: I have always loved Juliet's soliloquoy about "My love is as boundless as the boundless sea" and wanted to use it in a novel but never knew how. I love the ocean and everything to do with it, and wanted to center a novel around the sea. My hero, a former pirate hunter, Captain Philip Rathbone (surname will be changed, just don't know what at this point - but Rathbone is always my choice for a work in progress) has been summoned by, he believes, a love from his past. In truth, it is the daughter he's never heard of who's urged him to come to her mother's rescue. Set in the Spanish court and sweeping into the Caribbean, it's filled with dark priests, ruthless pirates, sea battles, and of course, true love and a treasure chest or two. The images I have of these characters are a Russell Crowe type and a Salma Hayek type. Wow - what a combo.