Barbara Samuel

Southern writer Patti Callahan Henry has been compared to Anne Rivers Siddons, Mary Alice Monroe and Dorothea Benton Frank. With a touch as graceful as a twilight breeze, she explores the lives of women;old and young and in-between;in novels like Losing the Moon and Between the Tides. Her fifth book, The Art of Keeping Secrets, is a delicately wrought exploration of the unlikely relationship that forms between two women, Annabelle and Sofie, after the untimely death of Annabelle's husband, Knox Murphy, in a plane crash. The Art of Keeping Secrets delves with kindness into the dilemmas of history and memory, love and duty as Annabelle and Sofie are forced to confront and examine the truth about Knox and their pasts;something each has actively avoided until now. We caught up with Henry at her home near Atlanta to ask about the new book and the appeal of the literary life.

This is your fifth novel in five years;and you came to writing after pursing a career as a nurse. What has been the biggest adjustment you've had to make to the writing life?

Before I was published, writing was my private passion, something I did for my own heart and soul. The biggest hurdle came for me when I had to somehow integrate my passion into a job a blessing and a struggle simultaneously.

Is there something about writing that's surprised you?

My two biggest surprises and joys have been the relationships I've made with other writers and then the life lessons I learn from the craft of writing. When I first began to dip my toes into the literary life, I immediately found a world I hadn't known existed, a world where other people cared as much about books, words and novels as I did. My life has been enriched with these newfound relationships.

Secrets and their consequences are the centerpiece ofseveral of your novels. What fascinates you about the nature of secrets?

I'm intrigued as a storyteller about the unlived life, the road not taken, the secret not told. I'm always thinking about what-if scenarios, that "Y" in the road where a character makes what seems a small decision at the time, yet it is something that changes a life for better or worse. These are the things that have me returning to the page again and again.

Your novels center on the myriad relationships between women. Do you draw inspiration for these supportive relationships from your own life?

I have been blessed with wonderful, kind women in my life, so I am sure I draw from those feelings and memories both intentionally and unintentionally. I also think that we as writers paint a picture of the way we would like things to be, or how we would like things to turn out for all of us.

There are some beautiful scenes connected to dolphins in The Art of Keeping Secrets. How did you do your research? Are dolphins really that smart?

Thank you for the compliment. Those scenes were a delight to write. I spend my summers on the South Carolina coast where the dolphins are an integral part of the landscape. I have watched them for years, touched their sleek backs, believed they were talking to me and inspiring me. I can take a walk along the beach and watch a dolphin follow me, flicking his tail at me as if trying to tell me something important. They can make me cry. I also did research to get the facts right. I read numerous books on dolphins, read research papers and contacted a marine scientist at Duke. And, yes, dolphins are that smart – but that's just my humble opinion.

If a book club chose to read your book, what is an appetizer or small plate you might suggest to complement the mood?

Knox's famous crab cakes [mentioned in the novel]. OK, so I have no idea how to make them, but they sound good.

What books are in your beach bag this summer?

I've heard this called the summer of women's fiction, so after my book tour, I'll grab a handful and hide with my family. I can't wait for Anne Rivers Siddons' new book, Off Season, and Mary Alice Monroe's Time Is a River. I'm also a big fan of Elizabeth Berg and I know she has a new one. So many books, so little time.

Novelist Barbara Samuel writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Southern writer Patti Callahan Henry has been compared to Anne Rivers Siddons, Mary Alice Monroe and Dorothea Benton Frank. With a touch as graceful as a twilight breeze, she explores the lives of women;old and young and in-between;in novels like Losing the Moon and Between the Tides. Her fifth book, The Art of Keeping Secrets, […]

Last summer, just as the Romance Writers of America conference rolled into Dallas, the news leaked through the ranks: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss had died. Some sources hint that her heart was broken after the untimely death of her son, Dorren, who died weeks before she did; others say it was simply the more prosaic, but no less tragic, cancer. Romance readers only know it was too soon. The beloved author had just turned 68. Woodiwiss is widely regarded as the mother of the modern historical romance, and her 12 novels (beginning with 1972's The Flame and the Flower) boast a staggering 30 million copies in print. Her strong-willed heroines are beautiful, her heroes devastatingly handsome, and the pair finds adventure and romance on the way to their happy ending. Woodiwiss sparked a passion in readers and writers alike, flinging open the doors to what has become a thriving genre offering work to hundreds of (mostly) female writers.

In a tribute to Woodiwiss, New York Times best-selling historical romance author Teresa Medeiros wrote, I am humbled by what a great debt of gratitude we all owe Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. At the conclusion of The Flame and the Flower, she should have written not The End,' but The Beginning.' One consolation is that Woodiwiss left a final completed manuscript for her devoted readers: Everlasting, a sumptuous story set in the turbulent aftermath of the Crusades. Abrielle's beloved fiancŽ has died, leaving her to find a husband who will help save her mother and step- father from ruin. Cornered by the specter of poverty, Abrielle agrees to a union with the loathsome Desmond de Marle, despite her conflicted attraction to a Scotsman, Raven Seabern. Raven is powerfully drawn to the beautiful and spirited Abrielle, and when her husband meets a fitting death, he becomes Abrielle's champion. Abrielle must sort out the truth of her feelings and Raven's if the pair is to find lasting happiness. This lushly written last offering is classic Woodiwiss, and every romance collection should include this final chapter in a brilliant career.

Colorado writer Barbara Samuel is the author of several historical romances.

 

Last summer, just as the Romance Writers of America conference rolled into Dallas, the news leaked through the ranks: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss had died. Some sources hint that her heart was broken after the untimely death of her son, Dorren, who died weeks before she did; others say it was simply the more prosaic, but […]

Prolific and beloved, Jayne Ann Krentz is a New York Times best-selling author under several pen names. As Jayne Castle, she ventures into futuristic romance, and as Amanda Quick, she writes historical romance, including her recent bestseller, Second Sight, set in the late Victorian period. In that book, she created the intriguing Arcane Society, a secret organization peopled by psychics. Now she brings the society to the present day.

In the fast-paced, sizzling White Lies, descendants of the original society members are classified according to their abilities, and an entire network has developed to nurture and protect them but even that network has its failings. Claire Lancaster is a level 10 psychic, a human lie detector considered too highly gifted to be stable. She meets Jake Salter, who is a level 10 hunter, and the sparks fly as the two try to track down a killer who wants Claire dead. Krentz answered a few questions about her new book and the romance genre from her home in Seattle.

You've made no secret of your belief in the appeal of the alpha male in romance novels, and Jake Salter is an alpha in every sense of the word. What is the appeal of such strong male characters?

In my experience, readers don't like weak or insipid characters of any gender at least, not the readers in my genre. Our heroines are always strong, determined women with an agenda. That means those of us who write romantic suspense have to provide them with heroes who are their equals men who also present a serious challenge. No challenge, no conflict, no story.

The Arcane Society is a highly developed world (readers can learn more about it on jayneannkrentz.com). Is there any historical basis for such an organization?

Organizations devoted to paranormal research were huge in the Victorian era. I took that idea and ran with it, creating a secret society of psychics that is still going strong today. This allows me to provide a lot of history and background for the Arcane Society, which, in turn, makes for an interesting world. At least, I'm interested in it.

Will there be more Arcane Society novels? Contemporary or historical?

I'm hoping to make this a long-running series, although not every book will be an Arcane Society novel. My next Amanda Quick hardcover, The River Knows, is not part of the series. However, my next Jayne Ann Krentz title will be an Arcane story.

You write in three different areas of romance contemporary romantic suspense, historical romance and futuristic rom-ance. What is the appeal of moving between genres? Do you prefer one over the others?

I don't think of them as three different genres, just three different worlds. All of my novels feature a strong romance and a suspense-based plot. Heck, it's just what I do. But the three time periods allow me to do different kinds of plots and work with different kinds of romantic relationships. There are stories that work brilliantly in an historical, for instance, that just wouldn't fly in a contemporary and vice-versa. And I find moving between my three worlds very refreshing and invigorating. When I leave one I'm more than ready to dive into the next.

Your dedication to romance novels is well known—you've even edited a book of essays about the genre. Why do readers love romances so intensely?

Three reasons. First, women love stories about relationships all kinds of relationships. The romance novel revolves around the core relationship that is the basis for all the others: the one between a man and a woman. It is endlessly fascinating. Second, the romance genre is the only genre where women are guaranteed a story that will always put the heroine at the heart of the book. It is always HER story. Third, readers know that in these books the ancient, heroic female values will be affirmed: courage, honor, determination and the healing power of love.

What one misconception about romance novels would you correct if you could?

That the genre is only one story. The truth is, there is far more experimentation and innovation going on within the romance genre than in any of the others. We've got everything from Christian inspirational to classic historical romance to vampire romance. Take the current interest in the paranormal, which is just starting to infiltrate mystery and suspense. It is coming straight out of the romance genre, where it has been going strong for the past couple of years. And look how many enormously popular female suspense writers built their audiences first within the romance genre: Sandra Brown, Iris Johansen, Janet Evanovich, etc. They have gone on to change the landscape of the suspense genre by bringing their romantic sensibilities to it.

Prolific and beloved, Jayne Ann Krentz is a New York Times best-selling author under several pen names. As Jayne Castle, she ventures into futuristic romance, and as Amanda Quick, she writes historical romance, including her recent bestseller, Second Sight, set in the late Victorian period. In that book, she created the intriguing Arcane Society, a […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!