Liz was born in London. After graduating with a Law degree, she moved to California where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.
Real life intervened and she returned to the UK, completed a degree in English and taught for a number of years.
1. Tell us about your latest book and what inspired you to write it.
A Bargain Struck is set in Wyoming, 1887. Widower Conn Maguire sends for mail-order bride, Ellen O’Sullivan, assuming - as anyone would - that she’ll have been completely honest in their initial exchange of letters. But sometimes, it’s wiser not to make assumptions.
A year ago, thinking about what would make a good book to follow The Road Back, I heard the words ‘mail-order bride’ on the radio as I was driving to meet a friend for lunch. I sat up - I’ve always thought that a romantic concept.
The radio article was about Russia, but by the time I’d reached the restaurant, I’d located my developing story line to a time and a place where mail-order brides were relatively commonplace - to the wide open plains of Wyoming in the 1880s.
2. What’s the first thing you do when you start a new novel?
I think about the principle characters. A story develops from the nature of the characters, as well as from conflict, so I have to understand my characters.
I get to know them in my head by thinking about their background and how it would have affected them. We’re all products of our environment and socialisation, and this determines the characterisation.
3. How important is a sense of place to you in your work?
Extremely important. I go to the location where I’ve set my novel, if at all possible. It was easy with Evie Undercover – I often go to Umbria - but I had to drag my sun-hating husband to Wyoming in August last year to finish researching A Bargain Struck because I couldn’t find answers to all my questions, and I
to avoid educated guesses. A bonus was that we had an interesting and
|On horseback at the foot of the Rockies in Wyoming|
4. Have you ever based one of your characters on a real historical person?
No. (That must be the shortest answer I’ve ever given.)
5. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer wishing to break into the historical romance market?
Read as many books of the genre as possible, particularly those set in the period in which you’re interested.
Research your period thoroughly. You need to know the customs of the time and the constraints upon the characters if you’re to avoid your character thinking and acting in a way they would never done in the period in which they lived.
People who choose to read historical novels want to lose themselves in the period and be carried away by both the romance of the time and the romantic action between the characters. They don’t want to be jarred out of the mood by modern thoughts and actions.
6. If you could travel back in time who would you most like to meet?
I’d like to meet George Stevens, who died in 1975. He produced and directed the American Western film Shane (1953). I love the film, and I really would like to know whether he thinks Shane lived or died at the end. (No, that’s not a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen it – you’ve got to do one thing or the other!)
7. How does chocolate help you in your writing?
Is there anything that chocolate can’t help you with? If there is, I don’t think I know it.
Apart from being associated with romance, owing to its silky smooth richness, chocolate boosts your energy level and gives you a massive surge of creativity.
Talking of chocolate …
Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today, Liz. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes, Henri
Interviews on the RNA Blog are carried out by Freda, Henri and Livvie. They are for RNA members only. If you are interested in an interview, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org