What attracts you to write historical romance?
Romance cuts to the heart of history. How did men and women fall in love? How did they build families and communities? How did they achieve goals? Nothing motivates people like relationships. Emotions empower us. Passion drives us. Humor uplifts us. And spirituality sustains us.
History fascinates me. We're influenced every day by what went before us, from our lifestyles to our relationships. Courage, strength, and determination brought folks from distant shores to America where they were challenged to embrace a land of rich resources and people of ancient cultures. Each person who lived, loved, and died throughout the following generations left a significant legacy.
I'm a descendent of American Revolutionary soldiers, Republic of Texas pioneers, and Native Americans. I also come from a family of storytellers. I was nurtured on tall-tales and larger-than-life heroes and heroines. I still love a good story. Now I enjoy them across a wide range of mediums, from books and television to films and more. All of this combines to fuel my own passion for writing historical romance.
. Why do you write about the American West?
I've lived in the West all of my life, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. I love the land, the people, and the heritage, so I like to share this slice of Americana with readers.
For my Gone Bad series, I use the rich historical setting of North Texas and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In the mid-1880s, this area was still the Wild West with a toe-hold on civilization and a boot-full of independent outlaws, cowboys, Indians, farmers, ranchers, and small town folks. Deputy U.S. Marshals, Indian Lighthorsemen, and Texas Rangers fought a valiant, often losing, battle to keep the peace.
How did you get the idea for your Gone Bad Series?
"G.T.T." was once widely known to mean "Gone to Texas." Those letters were frequently found scrawled on doors in the South, Midwest, and East. The inscription was common enough that most folks knew when they saw "G.T.T." that their friend, enemy, or loved one had disappeared into the wilds of Texas. People who left that inscription sometimes got out one step ahead of the law or creditors. Some couldn't stand the confines of civilization any longer. Others wanted to build a new life. For whatever reason, these folks were simply gone and many of them gone bad. That interesting concept led to the title for my Gone Bad Series.
What sort of research goes into writing your novels?
First, I have a library filled with wonderful research books I rely on for accuracy. Second, I use the resources of the Internet, especially for photographs of locales, maps, clothes, buildings, etc. Third, I interview people, recording history, myths, and memories. Fourth, I use the stories and legends handed down in my family.
As an example, I went to Spiro Mounds in the northeast corner of Oklahoma on December 21, 2012 to experience the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Ancestors of the Caddo Confederacies would have celebrated in the plaza with ceremonies, dances, and feasts to welcome the astronomically correct turning of the Medicine Wheel to longer days. Spiro was once a huge, important city of traders, farmers, craftspeople, nobility, and priests with burial mounds that are still with us today. For descriptive scenes in Bride Gone Bad, I took notes and photographs on the guided tour.
Why did you decide to add paranormal elements in your historical romances?
My research revealed interest in the paranormal, such as séances, was very much a part of society at that time. Native American mysticism was still practiced in tribal life and culture, and folks venturing out into a wild land counted on luck. Any type of gift, even if not completely understandable, that helped folks cope with life was valuable.
In Lady Gone Bad, Sharlot hears danger warnings in her head. In Angel Gone Bad, Crystabelle is a card reader. In Bride Gone Bad, Tempest speaks with ghosts. All these gifts help the heroines, and their heroes, survive in dangerous situations and achieve their goals.