Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spotlight on Europe- Interview!

Today I'm interviewing Ruth Axtell Morren about her recent Love Inspired Historical, "Hearts In The Highlands".

Outside of Indiana Jones and the required dinosaur obsession, few people pay attention to archeology these days. Was Reid's occupation a conscious choice on your part or just what he told you he had to be?

Originally I had toyed with the idea of making him an archaeologist, then I'd decided on an art history professor, thinking that required less research. But my editor, Melissa Endlich, preferred a more exciting profession like archaeologist, so I rose to the challenge! It worked out well. I kept picturing Reid as Indiana Jones and Robert Redford in Out of Africa--rugged adventurers!

I'm also a fan of the Naked Archaeologist, so I loved the way you included the Holy Land as it was during the Victorian period. Why there and Egypt instead of Rome or Athens?

I was doing research on the Victorian period and found out how popular 'Egyptology' was at the time. Then it seemed a neat idea to make Maddie's parents former missionaries from somewhere in the region.

Tell us about your writing process.

When I get an idea (which can come from anywhere--from history books to a secondary character to a dream), I begin researching that time period both from books and online. The more I find out about a period, the more my plot starts forming. Sometimes the idea just comes to me almost complete (ie, the plot). Then the research just helps fill in the holes. Other times, it's a lot more sketchy and I need to think a lot about possible what-ifs for the hero & heroine.
Once I start writing, I aim for 10 pp a day, preferably working mornings till about 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Then I take a long walk, where I continue mulling on the plot, generally getting idea for the next day's scene. After finishing a first draft (anywhere from 2 months to 4), I start rewriting--then I send it off to my critique partner, then I further revise at least 2 more times before sending it to my editor for her suggestions.

And the big question: Are you a plotter, pantster or somewhere in between?

definitely somewhere in between. I used to be much more a plotter, but the more I write, and the more I know my historical period (and the tighter deadlines get), the more I begin writing before I'm quite ready to. That means, winging it more, knowing the ideas will come as I write.

What's your favorite time period to write about or research?

Definitely both Regency England and Victorian England. Growing up those were the periods I most like to read about. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy other settings, esp. exotic. Right now, I have an idea for a post-Napoleanic Paris-set story. And, I do enjoy the late 19th century downeast Maine setting I've used.

What advice would you give a beginning novelist who wants to write historical romance?

Read as many classics written in the time period you are writing in as you can. This give you a feel for dialogue and slang and what some of the everyday things people used were--things that aren't always easy to find in the history books.

Ruth can be found online at her website and her blog, which is linked in my blogroll.

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