For the simplest of reasons. After I had completed the manuscript, Harlequin rejected it.
It was, particularly since the proposal had been approved. But I don’t fault my editor. The book is very dark and very historical and I think she believed that it would not meet the expectations of the typical Harlequin Historical reader, despite the happy ending. But I still loved the story, so I got my rights back from Harlequin and went on to write the Brunson Trilogy instead. When I had a little breathing room, I pulled the story out again and readied it for publication in print and e-versions myself.
First and foremost, because I think it’s some of the best work I’ve done. Second, as a learning experience in the brave new publishing world we live in. And finally, as a sort of marketing experiment. I’m interested to see whether there’s a market for a book that treats the history and the romance as equally important.
Harder than I expected. And I was well prepared. But I hired professional editors, a professional cover designer, and an expert in formatting…and there are still venues that I plan to make the book available and haven’t yet. Now comes the challenge of marketing! But I’m still glad I did it. And I especially enjoyed being able to select my own cover design. And Kim Killion did a wonderful job. It really expresses the feel of the book.
Subject, character, and setting. It’s a book about witches that is not a paranormal, though the hero actually does believe witches exist, as even the most educated people did at that time. The 17th century was on the cusp of our modern era and pre-Enlightenment superstition and modern logic often existed side by side.
I had not written a story set in the 17th century before. As I got into it, I understood why you seldom read romance set in that era. England and Scotland were torn apart by complex civil and religious wars. Even keeping track of the backstory and the players made my head spin. Finding a happy ending amidst all the chaos was a challenge.
It surprises me, too! I’ve now written Scottish Border books set in the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries. I came to Scotland as a setting with some reluctance, originally. And when I started thinking about where to set this book, I researched the medieval and Inquisition time periods first. Then, I thought I would set it in England, where the most famous witch finder of them all, Matthew Hopkins, lived. But I discovered that the witch hunts in Scotland were among the most virulent anywhere. And by then, I was familiar with the geography and history, so it was easier to do.
Well worth my doing it! I’ve been so gratified by four and five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. They are saying things like “amazing…couldn’t put it down…does the near impossible.” So glad readers are taking it to heart.
At the moment, I’m happily “hybrid,” which is the new term for those who do both. I’m still under contract with Harlequin. My next two books, royal wedding stories, take me back to 14th century England and the court of Edward III. SECRETS AT COURT will be out March 2014 and WHISPERS AT COURT later in the year. Both are tied to real historical events, as all my books seem to be.