It was 30 years ago last month — March 1981 — when I put pen to paper and began writing my first novel. That book would eventually sell to a publisher of romance fiction, but to be honest, it was much more an historical saga with a touch of romance thrown in, influenced heavily by my love for the sagas that were popular at that time. (I devoured the Children of the Lion series by Peter Danielson; not always "G" rated nor biblically accurate but so entertaining.) I actually had to learn how to write a true romance while "on the job."
I can't remember a time in school when history wasn't my favorite subject. I have always been fascinated to read about other places and other times. I want to know the way people did things and why they did things. I want to know. I want to learn. I want to absorb.
A couple of years ago, I got on a Tudor kick. I could not read enough or watch enough about that time and place. I found every film and documentary on Netflix about the Tudors. I read all of Philippa Gregory's novels about the Tudors. I'm sure some people expected me to end up writing a book set in England during the reign of Henry VIII, but I wasn't tempted. It was enough just to learn. For a while, I was a walking encyclopedia on all things Tudor.
After reading Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series (published in the mid 90's), I was on an ancient Rome kick for a while. I've also had my Regency England fascination and my Civil War fascination (I've read Gone with the Wind five times and many, many non-fiction books on the period).
Although I have written books set in England during both the Regency and Victorian eras and have set a couple of books in the South, pre- and post-Civil War, most of my historical novels are set in Idaho or the Mountain West from the 1860's to the 1930's. That's because I love the history of this area. So many good stories to tell about brave, brave people — like my ancestors — who carved new lives out of a rugged and not always welcoming land.
What are some of your favorite time periods to read about? What are some of your favorite historical settings? What author(s) made you a fan of historical fiction? I'd love to know.