Books quite literally shaped my life. When I was young, I gobbled up historical fiction. Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and another author I spent an hour yesterday trying to track down you did a whole series on the War of the Roses. When I took AP European History (as an elective – for fun!) I did not study. Seriously. Because I knew all those kings and queens and wars inside and out already from my reading. Not what my teacher wanted to hear, but the truth. And yes, I passed the AP with flying colors.
Of course, as I got more, um, mature (i.e. boy crazy) I segued into historical romance. Catherine Coulter, Rosemary Rogers, etc. But then I discovered Barbara Michaels. And my whole world shifted. Her books resonated with me, because they were contemporary. People talked like I did. The characters wore normal clothes and met people in normal life. In other words, they made me think that eventually, I, too got have a fascinating job and meet a fascinating man…battle a few ghosts, sure….but then live happily ever after. I absolutely loved that dream she gave me.
Then I discovered Jayne Ann Krentz. Her heroines wore glasses, like me, and STILL scored the big, smart, hottie. Wow. According to her, my bookworm tendancies would no longer work against me in the romance department. That was pretty great news. What I also took away as a writer was how she instilled such a sense of place in her books. Quite a few were set in Seattle. The greyness that imbued the city served to bring the H/H closer, to discover the golden warmth of being in love with each other. Without even realizing it, I took that to heart. Now (not to toot my own horn, but to drive home a point of how she shaped me as a writer), one of the things my books are best know for is incorporating setting so fully as to be almost another character.
Obviously, as a contemporary romance writer, I idolize Nora Roberts. Every book of hers is a master class. But others have said that in their posts this month. My twist is that her books literally did shape my life. We were living in Chicago, and while it is a tremendous city to visit, we’d decided it wasn’t the right place for us to live anymore. We’re DINKs, so we figured we had the whole country to choose from – we just needed to pick a state and start over. Kind of a broad order, huh? But I’d been reading Nora Roberts’ trilogy set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It spoke to me. The book pictured on the left also takes place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where, (spoiler alert!) my husband now works and we live just a mile away. Something about the way she described this state drew me to it. I told him that we had to check it out – it met our requirements of being on the water and a major metropolis. That was enough to get him in the car to check it out. We weren’t crazy – jobs were procured and plans made. But we’ve now lived here eleven happy years, all thanks to her writing. And I can only hope that one of my books will help shape someone else’s life.