Willig at a book signing event
March 28, 1977 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
The minimum I need is six months to allow for dithering, procrastination and the research. The research times varies from book to book; some are faster because they're based off resources I have at my disposal.
I tend to navigate by indirection, meaning that most of the major things in my life have happened when I've been thinking about something else.
I've had mainstream readers complain that the book is really a romance, and romance readers complain that the book isn't a romance – with the same book! It really depends on the individual reader's expectations going into the story, and that's very hard to predict person to person.
Did I invent anything? I don't think so, not really. But if I've helped make history fun… then my work here is done.
Every young girl wants to be a princess. Then, when you find a real-life one, it's very easy to imagine yourself in that role.
There's a horrible stereotype of both the romance writer and the romance reader as somehow undereducated and unprofessional, when in fact there are a number of incredibly well-educated professional women who have chosen to leave their other careers and go into writing romance.
I couldn't make myself write serious; I was surrounded by serious: in monographs, in articles, in my own dissertation prospectus, in the very earnest e-mails of students telling me just why that paper couldn't be in on time, cross their hearts and hope to get an A-minus.
When I was 6, a family friend gave me E.L. Konigsburg's 'A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver' and launched me on a full-blown Eleanor obsession. I wanted to ride off on Crusade, to launch a thousand troubadour songs, to marry a king – and then jilt him and marry another.
I'm not sure that teaching a Core course is necessarily the best introduction to teaching.
My books fall in the wobbly middle between historical fiction and historical romance.
'Purple Plumeria' I dithered over for months and then wrote the whole thing between the beginning of July and end of August. The dithering and procrastination time was three times the writing times.
People who would never sneer at sci-fi and murder mysteries have no trouble damning the whole romance genre without reading one.
I've been typed as historical fiction, historical women's fiction, historical mystery, historical chick lit, historical romance – all for the same book.
I went to grad school with the grand plan of getting my Ph.D. and writing weighty, Tudor-Stuart-set historical fiction – from which I emerged with a law degree and a series of light-hearted historical romances about flower-named spies during the Napoleonic wars.
When I'm in heavy-duty writing mode, there's something great about reading a series. Soothing, but not distracting too much.
My official field was Tudor-Stuart England; I also considered myself reasonably competent when it came to Renaissance and Reformation Europe.
Like everyone else, I grew up loving the Anne books, but L.M. Montgomery is so much more. Like Jane Austen, she has an eye for the absurd and a gift for the 'mot juste.'
As a friend once pointed out, the crotchety dowagers do tend to get all the best lines. That may be why I have so many of them in my books.
Ever since reading Jean Plaidy's 'Queen in Waiting,' I've felt deep admiration for Caroline of Ansbach.
I'm an eighteenth-century girl at heart. I wouldn't mind being set down in London in 1715, in the midst of all the drama of the Hanoverian succession.
One of our fundamental human needs is finding our partner that we hope we will stay with for the rest of our lives. You often find the same search in other genres. The mystery novel has a romance subplot. Literary novels often focus on that relationship but do not often end well.
My own inclination is to skew towards humor. They say that some people view life as a comedy, others as a tragedy. Me? Comedy all the way.
I never sat down and said, 'I'm going to write historical fiction with strong romantic elements.' It was just the way the stories went.
I hadn't realized quite how intense the first few years of grad school would be. When you're being assigned 40 books a week… there's not much room for novels.
Say what you will about Queen Eleanor, she was a savvy, quick-witted woman who made her mark on history. And as the founder of the Courts of Love, what better patron monarch could there be for a romantic novelist?
Iris Johansen's lovers weathered the sack of city states and the vagaries of the French Revolution; Judith McNaught's heroines endured amnesia, social ostracism and misunderstandings so big they deserved their own ZIP code.