Belonging to a family of readers and writers and scholars and travelers must have preordained my literary career. From an early age I invented characters and composed scenes and stories in my head. At age ten, I first saw my own words printed--in the grammar school newsletter that I co-founded, typed, and published. Around the same time I combined my theatrical and writing ambitions to adapt favourite youth novels into scripts.
Since then many, many more words have been published. I'm the author of 14 historical novels in hardcover and paperback, including bestsellers and award-winners and foreign editions. Before becoming a fulltime writer, I was an actress, film and tv extra, scriptwriter/producer for documentary and instructional films, voice-over talent, and university instructor.
My historical research methods date from my years portraying heroines in works by Shakespeare, Moliere, Restoration dramatists, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Chekhov, Agatha Christie, and more. For each role, my directors required a detailed character profile, so digging into social history, biography, and fashion history became second nature. On the stage I was wearing the clothes of past eras, whether restrictive (corsets!) and billowing (full skirts), learning how to move and to speak.
Whenever possible, I visit the renowned research institutions--the British Library, the Public Record Office, the Folger Library, and so many more, studying orginal documents and such primary sources as manuscripts, prints, and maps. But my interest is no longer purely academic. I'm seeking facts as foundation to my story world, and everything I learn is filtered through my imagination. As novelist, I have a license to make things up. I've also had the privilege of meeting respected historians and authors--for example, Earl Spencer, pictured here.
When not writing or reading, I'm spending time in my gardens. Roses are my passion--I've got 180 of them, a mix of antique varieties and modern hybrids--and I also grow perennials, tropicals, fruits, and veg. I'm a lifelong traveller, to places near and far, which is compatible with my work in photography (nature, travel, architectural, portrait). I play the mandolin, and my music listening tastes are broad and eclectic.
I live with my husband and our mixed-breed dog in an architecturally unique, book-filled home in a lovely and historic New England city. A favorite retreat--and my preferred writing location for many months of the year--is our rustic cottage beside one of our region's largest and most scenic lakes. We return annually to Great Britain, primarily dividing our time between London and Somerset.