In your own words, please describe your book.
It’s a novel about a lonely princess and a reluctant soldier in ancient times and the rocky road of their friendship and eventual romance in the aftermath of war. The heroine wants to protect her children from the enemy; the hero wants to leave fighting and killing behind and settle down. There are palace intrigues and secret passages and funny scenes—all things I enjoy in a novel and so want to give to my readers.
On a deeper level, the book is about loss and dealing with loss. Every character in the novel has lost or loses his or her beloved home city to destruction. Some have lost family members as well. Some are able to heal; some don’t.
What genre/genres does your book fall under?
historical fiction with strong romantic elements
Is this book part of a series?
No, although I have a previous novel (Like Mayflies in a Stream) also set in ancient Mesopotamia, and I’m planning another novel set in Mesopotamia.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
Partly I wanted to write a novel with enough romance that it would appeal to my many romance-reading friends, some of whom aren’t interested in ancient history (if you can imagine that!).
Partly I wanted to write about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee flood: I wanted to show how people can react very differently to living through the destruction of their city and to give hope to disaster survivors that they can have a brighter future.
Partly I knew I wanted to write later a big honking epic set in this period in ancient Mesopotamia. Claimed by the Enemy (and a related university extension class I taught) was a way to dip my toes into the complex politics and history.
Partly I have been nuts about ancient Mesopotamia for 40+ years, and I want to interest other people in this fascinating time when civilization was starting out and people were inventing most of the things we take for granted today.
What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life?
I started writing stories as a kid. I got my degrees in anthropology, but when there were no appropriate jobs when I finished my Ph.D., I took an editing and writing job at a science magazine. A few years later, I became a freelance medical and science writer and editor and did that for about 20 years, until retiring. During those years, I had dabbled in fiction. After I retired, it became my new career.
So far, what has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
The six weeks in 2009 I spent at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop. How amazing to be able to devote myself all day, every day, to writing and learning about writing, surrounded by other students who had the same goals! I made friendships that will probably last the rest of my life.
Are you self-published or published through a small-press? Can you tell our readers what led up to that and your publishing experience?
One of my historical novels was published by small press Hadley Rille Books, and HRB will publish my first fantasy novel in 2015. I have also self-published a sf novelette, a dark fantasy novelette, and my current book, Claimed by the Enemy. I also plan to self-publish two short novels or novellas that I am starting this fall. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of publishing, and I plan to continue doing both.
What are you working on now?
I am researching, developing characters for, and plotting:
• two contemporary romance novellas or novels set in France, one in Bordeaux’s wine country and the other in a lavender-growing region of Provence.
• a long historical novel about the most powerful woman in ancient Mesopotamia. We know some of her achievements and even have a crude image of her, but little is known about her life otherwise. I will need to know the society, culture, and landscape intimately, which is why I am doing small projects at the same time.
In your own words, please tell us about yourself.
I’m 58; I’ve been married to the same man for 32 years; I grew up in Beavercreek, Ohio, and then lived many places, mostly in the Midwest and South.
The home of my heart is New Orleans.
The defining factor of my life has been that I have many chronic illnesses. They have had both good effects and bad. On the one hand, I became a freelance writer decades ago because I was not well enough to work at an office; I retired and became a fiction writer when I could no longer handle freelance writing. So my bad health pushed me into writing careers that I love. On the other hand, having several chronic illnesses is as time- and energy-consuming as having a full-time job, limiting my time to write.
My main hobbies are reading and gardening (herbs, roses, and desert plants). My husband and I also love playing in early music ensembles, and we are taking French lessons together.
What are some of your likes and dislikes?
I love dark chocolate, and I eat a lot of it.
Unlike some writers, I enjoy the process of writing, hard as it is. In fact, the challenge is part of the fun.
I love roots music: Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, American and British folk, bluegrass, acoustic blues, electric blues, New Orleans brass band, New Orleans jazz, New Orleans gospel, and other kinds of New Orleans music.
I enjoy trying out—and later cooking—cuisines of many places. I even read cookbooks for fun. I love going to museums, concerts, art galleries, historic homes, and gardens. My favorite thing to do when in a new city is to walk around for hours to get a feel for the landscape, the people, the architecture, and the culture of different neighborhoods.
What do I dislike? That’s tougher to answer. Suburbs, definitely. Abstract modern jazz too. Driving on congested highways. Most architecture after 1940. Getting up early. Places without trees.
How can readers connect with you?
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know?
If I weren’t married, I’d probably be a crazy cat lady with a house full of books, cats, and dark chocolate and not much else.
If there was one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
Don’t be discouraged by the terrible events life throws your way. If you hang on, persevere, and keep looking for opportunities even when life seems completely hopeless, eventually something or someone will come by to grab on to. You can make your life better and find many reasons to live and laugh—but it takes time and it takes work. I hope my stories and novels, as well as my life, provide hope for my readers.
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