I started creating books at the age of five, or so my mother tells me. And she has the proof—a neatly penciled story, the pages lavishly illustrated with full color crayon drawings of horses and bound with staples—to back up her claim. I have since moved on from Westerns to writing about Regency England, a time and place that has captured my imagination ever since I opened the covers of Pride and Prejudice.
I graduated from Yale University and now work in New York City as the Creative Director of a lifestyle sporting magazine, a job which lets me combine my love of the printed word with my master’s degree in Graphic Design. I’m very fortunate in that my work allows me to travel to interesting destinations around the world—but my favorite spot is London, where the funky antique markets and used book stores offer a wealth of inspiration for my stories.
So what sparked the idea for my "Spy"trilogy? After watching all the old James Bond movies more times than I care to count, I began to think . . . why is it that the boys get to have all the fun? They always get to be the spies. Or the pirates. Swashbuckling swagger, daredevil heroics, drop-dead looks—yes, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom cut a fine figure with their flashing swords, but I found myself secretly wanting Keira Knightley to pick up a saber and kick some ass. So, I decided to turn tradition on its ear and create a trio of leading ladies capable of beating the men at their own game.
And thus was born Mrs. Merlin’s Academy for Select Young Ladies, a secret school for Hellion Heroes. I chose to set it in Regency England because the era is so richly romantic. It was a world aswirl in silks, seduction and the intrigue of the Napoleonic Wars. A time when old ideas were constantly clashing with radical new ones. What better place for an unconventional female to test her mettle? Siena’s story made its debut in June '07, Shannon's story hit the shelves in March '08 and Sofia’s adventure is scheduled for October’08.
I’m often asked what books sparked my love for the written word. In answer, I would start with Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Other classic favorites include the works of Alexander Dumas, Wilkie Collins and Leo Tolstoi. For contemporary historical romance, I’m a big fan of Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Amanda McCabe, Barbara Metzger, Lynn Kerstan and fellow Hachette author Diane Perkins. (And I love Harry Potter and the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters.) I could go on and on, but these are a few of the authors who are dear to my heart.
As for blogs, some of the sites I enjoy are www.riskyregencies.blogspot.com and www.wordwenches.com
A few more random facts about me, in no particular order of importance:
I took up fencing in college but soon decided that I didn't like getting poked with a sharp object and turned to squash, a sport that allows you to whack a little rubber ball against wooden walls. (It rarely hits back.)
I studied children's book illustration with Maurice Sendak.
I spent a summer touring around Europe on the back of a BMW 750 cc motorcycle, which was not as romantic as it might sound. (Imagine going over a Swiss mountain pass at night in a July snowstorm and you will begin to have an inkling of why.)
My "pet" is a 2,000 lb vintage Vandercook 211 printing press. I love setting type by hand and printing limited edition art books.
And speaking of facts . . .
I always compile a notebook full of offbeat information in the course of writing a book. For me, part of the fun of being a writer of historical romance is getting into the spirit of the time. I love the research that goes into creating the mood and setting of a certain era. In working on Seduced by A Spy, I was lucky enough to travel to Scotland and Ireland, where I uncovered lots of fascinating facts. Strangely enough, a good many of them seem to revolve around . . . spirits. Very strong spirits. Here are just a few examples