Q. You graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree in Society and Law. What's a nice scholar like you doing flitting from century to century following dark magic?
A. The flitting from century to century following dark magic wasn't a conscious choice. I think writers bring to the table that which fascinates them, weaving stories around those elements. Magic, history, time—in both a physics and a metaphysical sense—sex, romance, the tension of mortality, all these things fascinate me. So I write steamy, romantic time-travels with ancient artifacts and civilizations, peopled by the occasional immortal, shaped by legend and myth.
Q. Your books are filled with fascinating Druid lore and historical detail. Tell us about the kind of research you do for your books.
A. Read, read, read. So many books—so little time. It's not enough for me to read a book, I have to own it. I hope one day to collect rare editions. Much of the research in my novels is a product of having read voraciously all my life, however, I've amassed an extensive reference collection encompassing many topics: the Templars, Scotland, Ireland, archaeology, Celtic lore, codes, physics, the origins of language and the alphabet, books before printing, illuminated manuscripts, time, theories of time-travel, language, custom and historical references. When I begin a novel, I have a broad idea what I plan to research, which narrows as I write and the characters/stakes begin to speak to me and define themselves.
Q. Who and what influenced you as a writer or storyteller?
A. I owe my first and perhaps greatest debt to science fiction/fantasy writers; it was Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein and Sherri Tepper that first drew me into a fictional world, ignited my imagination and passion for storytelling, pushed my mind beyond the quotidian into a world with no boundaries: the world of "what if?"
Since then, I've found inspiration in the works of an odd mishmash of writers. To name a few: Jorge Luis Borges, Judith Ivory, Neil Gaiman, Rudy Rucker, Lisa Kleypas, Katherine Neville, Terry Pratchett, Linda Howard—the list is as long as it is eclectic.
Q. Your characters are so strong, so passionate, so alive. Are they based on any real people, past or present?
A. I wish. If so I'd run off with Dageus. Or Drustan. No, Adam, definitely Adam.
On a more serious note, yes, to an extent. There are bits and pieces of people I know in all my characters, including myself. But contrary to a theory some people espouse, I'm not to be found in my heroines. If I wrote my Scorpio personality into a heroine, the story would be too dark, too moody to market as romance.
Q. How do you go about starting a new book? What comes first to you—plot, character, chemistry, or something else?
A. A single scene—the opening one—comes to me; I play with it, feel it out, see if it wants to grow. And from that comes a novel. At various points, perhaps fifty pages into it, again at a hundred, and at a half dozen more points throughout the novel I step back from the fictional immersion and lend it structure, craft it a bit. But lightly. I've tried controlling my writing, deciding in advance exactly what I intend to write, but I've found that the harder I muscle it the more aggravated the muse gets. But I want to play, she says. This isn't fun, I'm leaving.
I believe any act of creativity springs from joy. That stories come from a place in the subconscious where myth and archetype and collective memory burble and hiss in a primordial stew. For me, attempting to control this process turns it into labor, not creation. If forced, I can plot quite competently, but the story I write upon completion of said plotting rarely resembles what I've plotted, ergo, I don't see much point in bothering.
Q. The time travel element in your stories always presents intriguing situations. Would you have liked to live in a different time period? Which one, and what would that have been like for a woman?
A. The future; when space travel is possible. I thoroughly resent having been born in a time before space travel. What would it be like for a woman? We'd be Captains of our own starships.
Q. Do you have a favorite Highlander novel, and why?
KMM: The Immortal Highlander. If a parent loves the most difficult child differently, in my case, it's more.
Q. What's next for you? And for the Highland lairds?
A. Several story ideas on the burners: an alternate universe that runs parallel to the MacKeltars, but with sorcerers, not Druids; another MacKeltar (or two); and then there's a fallen Fae who is demanding attention every bit as insistently and tenaciously as I am endeavoring to ignore him.
As if Adam wasn't difficult enough.
No freaking way, Darroc. :)