What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a book?
It’s nothing I actually researched for a book, but it’s something that I did and later used in a young adult book. When I was a young thing going to the University of Washington, I worked for the Burke Museum on campus (kind of a natural history/local history museum) in the bird department. My job was to clean the bird skeletons that the zoology department brought in, and once the bones were picked clean by the dermestid beetles (that ate the flesh), I’d clean the carcass, dry them, and then label each bone with a number. It was a fascinating job, although I really did not like the mammal people with all their dead mammals. Birds I could handle…not so much with the mammals. Especially the day one of the giraffes died of natural causes at the local zoo, and they donated her body to the department…
How do you create chemistry between characters in your books?
I try to pair up people who have an instant dual attraction/aggravation because I believe a bit of irritation adds spice to an otherwise too happy relationship. So I just make sure there are things that will make the characters mesh, and other things that will cause a bit of chaos.
Which do you create first, your plot or your characters?
Usually, I have a plot idea, or at least a setting and basic story idea, and then work out what sort of characters would be in the most conflict in that situation. There are a few times when I’m writing in series about existing secondary characters, where I build a setting around them that will do the same thing–drive them bonkers.
Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?
That’s asking a lot from someone who has written more than sixty books! There are elements of me in most of the heroines, everything from my clumsiness, to facial blindness, plus-size nature, and fine appreciation of a sexy vampire. So really, I relate to all of them in one way or another.
What are some trends you’re seeing in romance that you’re excited about?
I’m seeing more media embrace romances, things like mobile games and mainstream streaming platforms, which opens the romance genre up to whole new audiences who don’t realize they are consuming the happily ever after of a romance. Since I love paranormals, I’m delighted to see that they continue to be strong despite most traditional publishers pooh-poohing them. And finally, I love that more people are mixing genres, and breaking out of the normal “rules” to genres. That’s not to say I’m going to be writing a secret baby alien vampire dinosaur book, but hey, at least now if I wanted to, I know I could probably find an audience for it.
What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?
Last year during the quarantine, I decided to write a serialized book for my dragon series, with chapters released each month for my newsletter readers. This was an odd interim book, one that fell between two existing books (the end of one series and start of another), and which readers had been wanting for years.
At the end of the year, I gathered up all the material, more than doubled it with content that evidently I’d left out, and tossed it over to my (now former) Penguin editor. This book–Dragonblight–should be out April 20.
Right now I’m working on another Dark Ones book…except it isn’t, really. It’s kind of a vampire book. Mostly. Somewhat. 🙂
I’m hoping to have it done in the next month or so, with a release this summer.