I think one of the first authors who inspired me to write my own historical romance, however, was Lori Wick. Before I read her books, I was always writing stories for whatever age group I was in—but after I read her Kensington Chronicles at age 12, I knew I wanted to write the same sort of thing. Even when I was reading kids’ books, I always wanted to know if the characters got married when they grew up, LOL. Guess I’m hardwired that way.
What type of research do you do in writing a story with a historical base? Tell me about the process.
My research usually begins online. I’ll read what I can about a subject—enough to know if it’s worth pursuing—and then I’ll shift my focus to figuring out which books I need. I’ll generally request a slew of them through the library, and then I’ll purchase the most helpful ones so I can keep them on hand throughout the process. And then, of course, I’m back online as I write, looking up answers to specific questions.
When it comes to locations, I’ve found modern tech tools like Google Maps and Street View to be SO helpful! It’s allowed me to take virtual tours of towns I’ve never been to—and when I’ve done that, I’ve actually gotten notes from readers saying how well I captured the place! Of course, I have to fictionalize some parts—when a fictional character owns a business, for examples—but I try to stay as true as I can to at least the region or neighborhood.
Is there a specific time frame in history that you are drawn more to than others?
Honestly, I just love history. I can get caught up in pretty much any era. But I don’t at all mind that I’ve been focused on Edwardian/Great War England for the last few years—after era-bouncing for a long time, it’s been fun to really dig deep into one period and learn a lot about it.
How long does it take you now to write a book? How do you write?
Do you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
Characters almost always come to me first—then I need to figure out the “plot stuff” that will best shape them. I never do character charts or interviews or journals like so many of my writing friends do…I just start writing them, and they inevitably show me their hearts within the first few chapters.
As for unfinished novels—this one made me laugh! I think I have around 70 unfinished manuscripts in my computer. Maybe more. Most of them are from my pre-published days, but it’s quite a well to draw from when I need to a character or idea. I’m constantly “stealing” things from those ideas that didn’t go anywhere on their own and weaving them into a story I’m writing now. And I love that I get to give them new life!
What do you know about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
Gracious, my writing journey has been such a long process! I started querying publishers when I was 14. So, there’s been a lot of learning for a loooooong time. I think the lesson that threw me for the biggest loop, though, was one I learned in my early twenties. I’d been writing for the joy of it all those years, but no one had ever told me there were “rules” to modern fiction.
At the moment I’m working on the rest of the Codebreakers series. Book two, On Wings of Devotion, is in the editing process, and I’m writing the final book in the series. These take us through the end of WW1, following the cryptographers of England’s Room 40 through more adventures with spies, danger, and mayhem…some fictional, some real. Book 2 let me explore pilots and nurses of the age, and book 3 is inspired by the true story of a Russian codebreaker who had to flee Russia in the wake of the revolution in 1917 and came to England to continue working. So much fun!
What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
This insight comes from my best friend, Stephanie Morrill, who runs Go Teen Writers: Respect your dream.
If writing is what you love and want to do, then respect it enough to give it the time it deserves. Respect it enough to educate yourself on those rules of writing. Respect it enough to become great at it. Respect it enough to learn the industry.
If you were determined to be an engineer or a doctor or a teacher, you’d readily accept that it’s a long process to get from “I want to…” to actually doing it—but in writing, too often we want to take short cuts to publication before we’re actually ready. What we don’t always realize is that our stories deserve better than that.
Respect your dream and give it the time and attention it deserves.
Great points to live by in your writing. If you’d like to learn more about Roseanna’s books, here are some links to get you started.