Has anyone else ever sheltered through a hailstorm in the mountains with a skunk? If I put this in a book, you’d think it was made up, right?

Wrong. The story of my first week of wedded bliss could be titled “How Not To Spend Your Honeymoon.” My husband (still) has this thing about seeing what’s over the next hill. <sigh> Did you ever notice that what’s over the next hill is another hill? And if you’re not watching the sky, black clouds can roll right in, open up and toss out big icy chunks of hail, not those puny pea-sized balls. So there I am, on my honeymoon, trying to keep my cool, and the only protective covering was a small building on stilts. It seemed to be part of a ski lift operation. (Don’t ask; neither of us ski.) The skunk was there first, but to its credit, it shared without raising too much of a stink. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

People are always asking, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Does my honeymoon give any clues??

The idea for Two Weddings and a Feud was born in a flash flood on the Current River, during the Great Flood of ’93 in the midwest. That’s when I learned how fast I can break camp. Fast!!! Five of us moved everything uphill–tents, canopy, canoes, all the gear, even the fire where our steak dinner was cooking–and didn’t lose anything but two days’ time. We could’ve hiked out sooner, but leave our canoes behind? I don’t think so.

During research for Alligator Alley, I had the opportunity to pet a tiger. He was on his side of the bars and I was on mine, thank you very much. I also wanted to see what the Everglades were really like, so I hired a boat and went out into the alligator-filled waterways. Awesome!

Wedding Knight research material came from a long-ago trip to Spain where I poked around old castles. I have pictures of my brother-in-law climbing the ruins. He didn’t break his arm until he came home and stood on a chair to fix something, thank goodness. That kind of research I can do without.

I’ve had several books published since the first one, in 14 countries, last count. A Date on Cloud Nine has been picked up by Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs and is going hardback. I get fan mail from countries where the books weren’t released, so some of them have travelin’ feet of their own. Some I enjoyed writing more than others. But I always, always enjoy the research.

2009 Update

Sometime between the finish of Witch in the House and its release, I developed seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I don’t know if you know much about SAD, but there are no tests for it. The only way you know you have it is when you have a couple really rotten winters in a row, and then you go, Oh gee, that happened last December too. And then the doctor says, You have seasonal affective disorder. Well, okay!

Life can do a one-eighty pretty fast. I went from hours-on-end at my desk, writing books, to reading beneath a special lamp many mornings, and just generally getting out more during the daytime. Neither is conducive to the type of writing I enjoy. So, in a nutshell, I haven’t been writing much.

As for getting out more, you know how “they” warn us about the sun. It’s bad for us, we shouldn’t tan, it causes cataracts, best slather on the sunscreen!, and so on? Turns out that sunshine is my new friend. I get out more. I use sunscreen. I protect my eyes with polycarbonate lenses that aren’t dark enough to call sunglasses.

In the meantime, I have been receiving more fan mail on Witch in the House than all my other books put together. Many letters are from witches who read the book and wanted to acknowledge how much they enjoyed it, how “dead on” it was. I thank all of you for writing, witches and non-witches alike. I truly enjoy your emails.

It’s like sunshine!

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