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Monday, April 25, 2022

My Romance Writing - the Hows and Whys.

This blog explains a bit about my love of romance, particularly historical romance, plus how and why I write it. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write about tender, realistic, developing relationships, set in the past. People in past times did fall in love and that's what I like to show. I also strive to show the non-noble, non-royal sides of history - how it felt to be a spear carrier, a slave, a medieval house-wife, a medieval hedge-witch or a serf. I like to explore the vital  role women played in history and how ancient and medieval women are different from people today because of the demands of biology (no reliable birth control) custom and religion. 

I write romance and adventure as do other writers in the historical romance genre, but these points: the celebration and evocation of the non-royal, the revelation of the true role of women, the way beliefs impacted on relationships, are, I think, what makes my work different.

 Why do I write what I do?

I have always been fascinated by the medieval and ancient worlds. I like the 'epic' scope of the history and the great differences in beliefs between then and now. I enjoy transporting my readers back into the past with me and to take them on an exotic, exciting journey.

How does my writing process work?

 I tend to start with a picture or scene in my head and often a snippet of conversation. That’s where my latest, “A Summer Bewitchment”, came from—a scrap of dialogue, “I am the troll king of this land and you owe me a forfeit” and the picture that gave me.

For another romance novel, “Dark Maiden,” I had a mental picture of a tall dark woman with a bow and the idea of scent—that my heroine Yolande could smell the restless dead. That seemed apt, too, because of the medieval idea of the odor of sanctity—that the bodies of saints could give off a sweet perfume. I took that belief and developed it in a different way, so Yolande could also smell less saintly souls.

From those initial ideas I usually work to a rough outline. I jot down the stakes of the story and the romantic themes , conflicts and arcs I want to explore. Sometimes before I begin a scene I note down the time of day, weather, mood, what I want the scene to do in terms of moving the plot and the relationships forward.

I don’t tend to work to a detailed plan. For my historical romances I often find that the research will give me ideas that are relevant to the story. In “Dark Maiden” the threat of the Black Death, with the natural fears that people had during that time that the end of the world was surely coming, gave me a powerful driver for the final conflict and climax of the novel. In “A Summer Bewitchment” I use medieval beliefs of magic and witchcraft to shape my story.

My romantic suspense and historical mystery books are a little different in that I do plan those out in detail. They are whodunits, so I need to have clues and mystery and suspects, and  some way of keeping track of them all.

I find with all my writing that I can often use aspects that I put into the story earlier and thread these  through and out later.

Sometimes the setting itself can give me wonderful plot ideas. I have used the city of Bath twice in my stories—once as the ancient Romano-British city with its shrine of Aquae Sulis in my historical romance “Flavia’s Secret” and once as the medieval spa town  in my historical mystery “A Widow of Bath.” I used the idea of the bleak landscape of marshes and fens in “Dark Maiden”—there’s something about the mix of water and big skies that I find intriguing and appealing.

What do you look for in romances? If you write, what do you find compelling?

To see my ideas in action, please see "Dark Maiden" and "A Summer Bewitchment." Both are free to read with kindleunlimited.



  1. Thanks for posting this. You have such a varied field of characters and periods in your catalogue. It's great to see the way you build characters and plots from the ground up, and place them with a vision of the world they inhabit. A fabulous insight into your method.

  2. I always enjoy reading about other authors' writing processes, Thanks for sharing yours. You have an amazing command of history,

  3. Many thanks, Christine and Ann! Your support is greatly appreciated.