What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
From Nora Roberts, though she didn't give it to me personally. She said when she hears writers talking about their creative muse, she wants to bitch slap them. The only method that works, she says, is the "ass in chair" method. I agree with her wholly, though in my case you'd have to extend it to be the "ass in chair, fingers on keyboard, logged off of Facebook and Gmail" method.
Of all the characters you've every written, which one is your favorite?
I have a real soft spot for Drum, the captain of the privateer in Tumbling Through Time. Maybe it's because he looks like Colin Firth (never hurts.) Maybe it's because he is such a natural seaman. Maybe it's because he ends up yearning for the heroine but not getting her. I think there are more stories ahead for Drum.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
Oh, winning the RITA. Hands down. I think it even eclipsed getting the call that my first book sold. What made the night so special, apart from winning, of course, was that not only was my husband there, but four very close friends had come in to attend as well. It was great to share the night with them. That day was also my younger sister Claire's birthday. It had been Claire's unexpected death twelve years earlier that spurred me to become a writer. I know she was watching that night. In fact, if I know Claire, she was the one who made it happen.
Name one book you think everyone should read (besides your own!).
Any of Patrick O'Brian's 20-book Aubrey/Maturin series, but, heck, why not start with the first, Master and Commander. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the books follow the adventures of a British naval captain and his closest friend, the ship's surgeon who is also a British agent. The relationship the two characters share is extraordinary, and O'Brian is capable of deeply entertaining his readers while also teaching them about the natural world, geography, sea-going life, naval practices and politics, which to me is the best sort of writing. The New York Times called O'Brian's work "the best historical fiction ever written." It's certainly the best I've read. And it is safe to say my sea captain heroes owe much of their genetic makeup to Captain Jack Aubrey.
What book are you embarrassed NOT to have read?
The Bible. Sadly for me, the musical Godspell is pretty much the full extent of what I know.
How would you earn a living if you weren't a writer?
As an expert in brand management, which is how I spent the first 25 years of my working life.
What are you working on now? I'm working on my fifth novel. In it, a snobby book critic at a New York City magazine screws up at work, and her punishment is to write an in-depth article about why women love romances. She's never read one, considering them to be the literary equivalent of Word Search puzzles, and has no idea why anyone would read one . . . that is, until the photographer assigned to the piece—her ex-boyfriend, who has his own reasons for wanting the article to be a success—starts feeding her reading recommendations from his older sister, a romance-reading fiend. When his sister mentions offhandedly that she doesn't know why more men don't use romances as guidebooks for getting women in bed, the photographer finds himself as engaged a reader as his ex-girlfriend.
The working title is A Novel Seduction. It's my first non-time-travel romance, but since the books the hero and heroine read are so good at sweeping them in, the story still has a real magical feel to it. In January, I start on my sixth book, which will be a return to time travel with a nobleman, a bastard son and a librarian struggling to keep her library afloat. Timely, eh?
Author photo by Garen DiBartolomeo.