19 October 2008

Guest Blogger: Lynna Banning

This week, we welcome Harlequin Mills & Boon author Lynna Banning, who is celebrating the release of her Spanish medieval romance TEMPLAR KNIGHT, FORBIDDEN BRIDE, available now.


Hardened, battle-weary warrior Reynaud has forgotten what delight a beautiful woman brings. On his return to Granada from the Crusades, he is drawn to Leonor despite his Templar vows, sensing that she can heal his hidden wounds. Leonor, however, is set upon her own dangerous path. Together they travel to 12th century Carcassonne and a tournament, each day growing closer and struggling to resist their forbidden passion.

Tell us about yourself and your new book TEMPLAR KNIGHT, FORBIDDEN BRIDE.
I write as Lynna Banning. This is my fifteenth published historical romance and the second in my medieval series set in the 12th century. My interest in the Middle Ages stems from college. The third in the medieval series is in the works.

I was born in Oregon and have a special interest also in the Old West. In fact, my first 13 books were westerns. One of these, THE ANGEL OF DEVIL'S CAMP, was a RITA finalist. I live now in the Santa Cruz mountains and welcome visits to my website. Personal notes can be sent to my email.

How did you start writing?
Essentially, I just tiptoed up to the high dive and plunged off. I started a novel as a challenge from a friend. I knew nothing about writing fiction, much less historical fiction, but I was sooooo bored at work as a technical editor that I started scribbling on coffee breaks and lunch hours and typing the mess into my home computer at night. I read all kinds of how-to books (James Frey, Oakley Hall, Gary Provost, etc.) and found an author friend to critique with. Bit by bit, a book was born.

How long before you sold a manuscript?
I sold my second manuscript, a western based on the life of my grandmother. Harlequin bought it and published it in 1996 under the title WESTERN ROSE.

What other things have you done, career-wise?
I worked as a waitress during college and I've taught high-school English and journalism. I work mostly as an editor.

What do you do when you are NOT writing?
I do a LOT of reading for research and for pleasure. Also I am taking harp lessons (my teacher says I'm the oldest intermediate student she's ever had), and I perform in a five-person medieval music ensemble. I play the piano and the harpsichord, recorders, cortholt, and a mean tambourine. I belong to a book club and I bake brownies.

What advice do you have for would-be writers?
Lots. First, try to write consistently, every day if you can manage--even ten minutes. Try not to let life get in your way, but don't force it if you have a migraine or your child has the measles. If you wrote one single page each day for an entire year, you'd have a 365-page novel. If you wrote two pages per day, you could do it in six months. You have to start somewhere.

Second, join the most advanced, toughest critique group you can find. You may suffer, but you will learn a lot from the experts. Try to find published writers in your particular genre.

Third, go to workshops, writing classes, writing groups. Nothing spurs you on, or adjusts perspective, or teaches you writing craft or characterization, etc. like classes and workshops. Read how-to books as well: Dwight Swain, Debra Dixon (Goal, Motivation & Conflict), Linda Seger, Syd Fields, Donald Maass.

How do you "balance" historical details with the ongoing story?
Mostly I don't. I love using the historical details to flavor-up my stories. My editor says, "Great--it feels like I'm actually there." Then she adds, "But the reader doesn't really need to know about the 1886 blizzard in Oregon or who was fighting whom in the 12th century."

What are some of your career highlights?
RITA nomination and Barclay Gold First Place Award for THE ANGEL OF DEVIL'S CAMP; Willa Cather finalist for THE SCOUT; Holt Medallion finalist for PLUM CREEK BRIDE.

Any final words of advice?
Just one: If you want to be a writer, you must write!



"TEMPLAR KNIGHT, FORBIDDEN BRIDE is rich in history and visual detail that will enchant and inform without being pedantic. Ms. Banning is a consummate storyteller who writes exquisitely. Detailed, sensual and very entertaining. Highly recommended." --Suzanne Barrett, WILD IRISH ROGUE

"Lynna Banning has a lyrical writing style. One of my favorite lines from the book is: 'One should not leave this life without knowing, at least once, the peace of another's touch upon one's soul.' She captures the medieval time beautifully and builds a story in which you become invested in the outcome." --Bookaholics Reviewer

"Lynna Banning seamlessly blends human emotion and historical conflict in ways that leave the reader craving more. This is a must read Historical Romance--a true keeper." --Marianne van Gelder

"TEMPLAR KNIGHT, FORBIDDEN BRIDE is set against the backdrop of the Crusades and Banning's tale is rich with historical research that brings the period to life. It's a romance to the core. And when I finished the last page, the story left me wholly satisfied." --Kathrynn Dennis, DARK RIDER


If you'd like the chance to win a copy of TEMPLAR KNIGHT, FORBIDDEN BRIDE, leave a comment or question for Lynna. A winner will be drawn from the comments next Sunday. Best of luck!