Career FAQ


What did you do before you became a writer? Do you write full time?

I was a simultaneous interpreter and translator. See? I’ve always worked with words. I would be unemployable otherwise. Now I write more or less full time.

Source: In Interview with Night Owl Romance, July 2010


Do you have any advice for other writers?

The same advice everyone gives: don’t give up. As J.A. Konrath says—there’s a word for writers who don’t give up: published. Keep at it. Join a writers’ organization, find critique partners, don’t give up. Find the time even when you don’t have any, and—don’t give up.

Source: In Interview with Night Owl Romance, July 2010


Do you see writing as a career?

I absolutely see writing as a career, and a wonderful one at that. I mean—you sit all day in your pajamas (or something equally comfortable), your daily commute is from the bedroom to the study, and you write exciting, sexy stories. Now THAT’S a career! Sometimes the royalties aren’t enough to keep me in La Perla lingerie and champagne and bon-bons and then I fall back on translating. But it doesn’t hold a candle to writing.

Source: In Interview with Night Owl Romance, July 2010


Do you find it’s challenging trying to balance your personal life with your writing career? Has your family supported you in your career choice?

My family has provided immense support, no question. It is also true that this job is less wearing on a family than when I was traveling 2 to 3 weeks a month. And it is also true that I make sure that I have time for them and that I care for them in every way.

I’m a decent cook, and a passionate believer in unprocessed, local food (which is spectacularly good here) so husband and son get plenty of home-cooked meals. I make sure the house is warm and welcoming (albeit at times messy) and that my husband and son’s friends are always welcome. I will at any moment happily add a place or two or five at the table.

I make sure I’m there when they need me.

Luckily, when at times I’m immersed in a novel, they don’t always realize I’m not actually listening to what they say.

I married late, and had a child late. So I really appreciate having made a family, since being an only child with both parents dead, I have none of my own.

I’ll never forget the moment when my mother had a huge health problem and this man I was dating helped me deal with it. All of a sudden, I realized that from now on, I wouldn’t be alone. It’s a powerful moment and I write about that in my novels. That electric moment of connection when you realize you’ve found your mate and you’ll never be alone again. It’s magic.

Source: In Interview with Just Erotic Romance Reviews, September 2007


Is there any particular anecdote involving your life as a romance author living in Europe that you would like to share?

I founded a writer’s group in Florence, Italy and one of these years, that experience is going to find its way into a short story.

I put up a notice in the American church for people interested in writing and for about three years we met weekly in the basement. It was a truly motley group of people, many of them eccentrics. Since people drift in and out of Florence, they consequently drifted in and out of the group. We tried to meet once a week and we tried to bring new material. One lady was so incredibly slow and meticulous that changing a comma or an adjective was a big thing and she’d bring it the next week, showing us the change. Shades of Oscar Wilde!

There was a really cute, shy gay guy just back from an extended stay in Algeria, who wrote long involved essays about his experiences. There was a whip-smart, incredibly hip young woman who wrote fabulous chicklit before there was a name (and a market) for it. She had no luck publishing, though her writing was incredibly good. When the chicklit boom started, I often thought about her. Her writing was better than 80% of what I read in chicklit, but her timing was off. There was an elderly American lady, quite wealthy, who had had a massive stroke and could barely speak but wrote like a dream. We often ended up meeting at her house because she had such difficulty getting around. She wrote incredibly well, but I got the impression she wasn’t pursuing a writing career, but rather just enjoyed the company. A former priest who wrote wrenching stories of being abused as a child in the backwoods of Minnesota. A gentle Englishwoman who wrote long, involved stories about … tea? And the Women’s League. The stories rambled, but fairly pleasantly. Another English lady who wrote about northern England during World War II, everything set in 1942 to be exact, using local dialect. I found it hard to understand one word out of three.

I was the only one consciously pursuing a career in a commercial genre. I kept explaining that over and over. Whenever we read out our new pieces, I’d have to go into a long, involved explanation of the ‘romance genre’ and its likes and dislikes. Why I had to do this and why I couldn’t do that. They looked at me as if I were a Martian, and they were quite right. I truly regret wasting all those years trying to fit into a box.

In Greek mythology, there was this evil king called Procrustes who used to invite people to his bed and if they were too tall, he would lop off their limbs. That’s how I felt, trying to fit into those old-fashioned romance boxes. Thank god they are gone!

But I suppose it’s all grist to the mill.

Source: In Interview with Just Erotic Romance Reviews, September 2007


You live in Europe, which places you in a rather unique position, how would you say does this affect your life as a writer, if at all?

I love where I live, that has to be said right away. But any human being who gets to be my age and doesn’t love where s/he lives is crazy. Hating where you live is a recipe for illness, physical and mental. You should find things to love about your home and embrace it.

There are tons of fabulous things about living in Europe, starting with the food and the wine. And, well, the art and architecture. And being able to travel easily to different countries with different cultures is really stimulating.

It’s not a good place to be to start a writing career, however. At least a US writing career. When I started many moons ago, the fact that in Europe we use A4 paper (taller and thinner than US paper) was a PROBLEM, can you believe it? One publisher (who never published me) asked me to import US paper because they weren’t used to the format of A4.

I spent half my time at the post office, mailing off big packages of manuscripts, hoping they would arrive. Waiting 10 days, two weeks, for the packages back. Luckily, email attachments have put paid to that.

It’s harder to get to conferences. It’s harder to meet with other romance writers, though I have the great great boon of living near Shannon McKenna, who is a fabulous writer and a good friend.

It’s harder to browse bookstores for books in English, though Amazon is great that way. They’ve got offices in the UK, in Germany and in France.

All in all, it takes one—or at least it took me—a little longer to make it when you’re living abroad.

All in all, though, I’m pretty happy with things.

Source: In Interview with Just Erotic Romance Reviews, September 2007