My twelve-year marriage was becoming more and more difficult, so I escaped in my head. I began fantasizing about how my life would have gone if I’d followed my dream of becoming an interior designer right out of high school. A woman in my church choir had had success as a romance writer, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’d finally become an interior designer and knew others in the field, so I had some interesting events I could riff off of.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
I had a bare outline in my head and let the characters lead the way. My heroine is a strong-minded redhead who has family issues and has moved to Los Angeles to help her career and to be away from her parents who live in Oregon. The hero is a huge Oregon promoter and can’t think of a better place to live. He was also very close to his parents before they died, so geographical and family issues set up the conflict. By the way, I enjoyed writing from both the heroine and hero’s points of view, even though that’s not common in romances.
Where do you get the names for your characters?
My heroine has red hair and is of Irish decent. I’ve named her “Meg,” short for Margaret, my grandmother’s name. I’ve named the hero after my nephew, Matthew who died young. He loved the out-of-doors, so I’ve kind of given him an adult life. I did a research on surnames and came up with the Norwegian, Aaberg, which means hill or mountain by the river.
Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?
I did when writing this book, but what helped me the most was taking my dog for a walk after writing all morning. I carried a little tape recorder with me, and when an idea popped into my head that solved something I was stuck on, I’d record it.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?
I love the out-of-doors, and I thought it would be an interesting contrast to have my male lead’s career to involve nature, as opposed to the indoors career of the heroine. I was an avid fan of the public broadcasting show, Oregon Field Guide, so I got an interview with the narrator and producer of the show. He told me some amusing events that happened behind the scenes that I was able to work into the story.
When where you first published? How were you discovered?
Home of the Heart was my first published book, although I’d had non-fiction articles published prior to that. I had not originally targeted a particular publisher when I wrote the story, and it had been rejected because of that. Then a writer friend told me about Avalon which publishes “clean” romances, so I re-wrote the story to their specifications and quickly received a contract.
Who designed your cover?
Since the book’s hardback publication in 1996, I’ve received my rights back. I updated the story and decided to self-publish it as an eBook. I found someone to format it for me and do the cover. I wanted an image that hinted of a warm, welcoming home, and of course, the couple who resembled the book’s description. I was able to find those images from an image service. The designer added the heart-shaped lock and the rough, red boards. The result is a warm, inviting scene that I love.
What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
I love this question. What changed was my image of myself as a writer. Since that first box of books landed on my doorstep (Halleluiah!), I’ve seen myself as a legitimate writer. That’s made all the difference in what I do and how I feel about it.
What are you working on right now?
Should This Christian Marriage Be Saved? A Memoir of Marriage, Divorce, and Faith. It’s about living with a passive-aggressive husband for twenty-five years, how I coped (not always well), and how it affected my relationship with God and the church. Although it covers a lot of heart-breaking moments, it has a happy ending.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?
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