I recently had the pleasure of reading The Texan, a Mills & Boon Historical Romance by Carolyn Davidson, originally published in the UK in 2005.
The Texan is set in the American West of the late 19th century and I enjoyed it so much, I went over to Carolyn's website and took the opportunity to fire off a few questions. She was kind enough to respond, and has allowed me to share her comments and advice on this blog.
I initially asked her about the period she chose to write about.
"As to what I write, most of my work takes place in the late 1800s, a favorite period of time with me. I have done a couple wagon train stories that took place fifty years earlier, but almost everything I write is in the 1880s or 1890s. I love the period."
Next to a love for the society in which her books are set, I discovered that Carolyn found an unlikely source to help her with the physical process of writing: learning Latin!
"I took Latin, and we both know that it's dead as a doornail. But I learned a lot about words and their formation from Latin. It has really been a big help to me in my writing."
I next asked her about the one area of writing that's either loved or hated by authors: the dreaded research.
"As to my research, I fear I must disappoint you, for I don't do any. Except for a book on horses and the services of my sister-in-law who raises them, my dictionary and a general history book of the USA, I just write what I know."
A Historical author who doesn't do research? Wow!
Carolyn explains further:
"I visited my grandparent's farm when I was a child and learned how to do all the normal farm stuff, gathering eggs, feeding chickens and cows, pitching hay onto a wagon and into the loft, slopping the hogs, churning butter and shucking corn. When I write, I just go back in time to the life I led in those days, a life I dearly loved."
Now it all makes sense. Carolyn is lucky enough to have actually lived the type of life that she writes about in her Historicals. No wonder her books feel so authentic!
Let's get to the crux of the matter: what process does her writing take - is she a pantser or a plotter?
"My writing is rather loose, for I sit in front of my computer and see a video in my mind and I type frantically, getting down all the dialogue and actions of my characters as they act them out. "
"Now, I know this is not the recommended style of writing that RWA preaches, for I don't outline or plot or even write a decent synopsis, but for some reason, they keep buying the books and I just keep writing them."
Caroyln's atypical approach to the craft is one that pays off. In the UK alone, she's had the following books published in recent years:
A Marriage By Chance, The Texan, Tempting A Texan, Texas Gold and Texas Lawman. And she shows no signs of stopping.
Part 2 of the interview to follow. Come back when Carolyn talks to me about research trips, agent advice, conferences and how one very special book came about...