I guess what I could more accurately say is that I have a degree of expertise in varied areas (not necessarily history, unless you count the last 35 years as history :-P) and have used much of it in my stories.
For much of my adult life, I worked for a defense contractor, an engineering aide, a draftsman, and finally a facility engineer. The expertise I acquired while working on a remote antenna support platform and the living conditions in a shared trailer worked perfectly for my contemporary romance, Taming Rowan. Combining that with my love of all things English, the perfect setting presented itself. I moved my antenna platform to a remote part of Cumbria, added a dishy British Project Officer who was wary of female co-workers (yes, I’ve encountered that as well). Add in bits and pieces of some of the English engineers I’ve worked with and I had my crew.
I’ve a particular fondness for the English manor house, and enough volumes on them to fill a library. By coupling that particular knowledge with my study on a small North Yorkshire town where my husband and I were going to be transferred (I was bereft when the job fell through, but why waste the research?), I had the perfect manorial setting where my heroine heals following a horrific site accident. Thus, Taming Rowan tapped into many areas of expertise, and the writing of it was pure joy.
Another interest of mine is Ireland and Irish history. It started with a Dublin-based pen pal, who I had the opportunity to visit on several occasions. He introduced me to Irish history through on-site tours, books and music. Not long afterward, I was hooked and getting shipments of books by the box load from Galway. A four-year stint as the About.com Ireland for Visitors Guide and numerous subsequent information-gathering trips gave me everything I needed to write In Love and War, the story of an Irish dairy farmer and the embittered war correspondent who comes to his cultural homeland to heal. This book, which deals with the lives of Irish people after the Easter Rising, Irish Republicanism and the Catholic/Protestant conflict won numerous awards but was an impossible sell to New York publishing houses due to the political content. It, however, was/is the book of my heart and involved digging deep to correctly portray a small Irish village and its relationship to a turbulent past.
In all my stories, there is a part of me, along with a mixture of things important in my life and a bit of expertise gained through my own experiences or studies. On October 26th, my first historical will be released. Sierra Bride has an Irish immigrant heroine, yet another tortured hero, horses (I used to own a horse and rode every opportunity I could), and is set on the eastern slope of the High Sierras, where I lived as a girl. It’s set in 1883, the year my grandfather was born.
Sierra County, California – 1883
Widowed rancher Wade Guthrie needs help raising his unruly young daughter and advertises for a housekeeper. Instead, he finds himself saddled with a mail order bride.
Irish immigrant Corrie Kiernan needs a place to hide. Witness to a brutal murder at the mill where she worked, she’ll do anything to escape the killer who now threatens her life, even if it means marrying a stranger and weaving a web of deception. Falling in love with the handsome rancher is easy, but can a man who values honesty above everything else love a woman whose life is a lie?