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Q&A


Biography

Is Gilt your first book?
A: No. I wrote an 800 page travelogue of my trip around the world. I included every insignificant detail and I never revised it. It's a good thing I didn't try to get it published.


Why do you write historical fiction?
A: Because I love history. Revise that. I love the characters who populated history. I struggle to remember dates, the names of battles and the vagaries of politics. I like to imagine the people as they really were—not like actors on a stage, but like someone I might meet one day in the grocery store. The Real Housewives of the Tudor Court.


Did you major in history in college?
A: No, I designed my own major at Humboldt State University using a combination of classes from the Journalism, Anthropology, Geography, Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies and Creative Writing curricula. Notice the distinct absence of history. This was after two years of theater—emphasis on acting and costume design. I was a long-term university student.


So what did you do with a major like that?
A: Traveled around the world. Twice. Wrote an 800-page doorstop. Met an Englishman, moved to England, and discovered history.


Do you do a lot of research now?
A: Every day. I read books, study travel guides, double check information in encyclopedias. I read the letters and papers of Henry VIII online. I search Google Earth and Mapquest. And I travel.


Do you ever get writer's block?
A: Every day.


How do you get over it?
A: I write every day. Sometimes I can write a thousand words, even though I don't know where to start. Sometimes I can't write fifty. Sometimes, all I can do is read a few chapters of a new research book and write down snippets of information on 3x5 cards. A change of scenery can help—a café, a walk, exercise, cooking. And when all else fails, I clean the house. It's enough to inspire me to get back to the page.


What inspires you?
A: The characters and their travel through history. The characters as they become in my own imagination. My own life experiences. Snippets of news and history that I read in magazines and newspapers or hear on the radio. And music.


What kind of music?
A: I listen to Renaissance and Baroque chamber music to try to get a feel for the age—especially with my second book. But I also listen to the radio and sometimes come across a modern song that practically writes a scene or paints a character for me. That's when I add it to my playlist.


What next?
A: More research. More writing. There is so much material out there that my idea file is already crammed—but there's always room for more.


Do you have an agent?
A: Yes. My agent is Catherine Drayton at InkWell Management.


How did you get your agent?
A: Query. And luck. A friend suggested I query Catherine, and she turned out to be a perfect fit for me and for my writing.