Story Spotlight: Whispers in the Reading Room

(1) Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
Whispers in the Reading Room is the third and final novel in my Chicago series set during the end of the 1893 World’s Fair. Much of the inspiration behind the novel came from a research trip to Chicago.
A girlfriend and I stayed at the historic Palmer House Hotel and were even able to participate in a back of the hotel tour. The guide was wonderful! He took us through a maze of old hallways and stairwells that the staff currently use and told a lot of fun stories about life in the hotel at the turn of the century. I knew then that I wanted to have a character live in a fancy hotel during the fair. Soon after that, I invented the character of Sebastian Marks, a very wealthy man hiding a very bad past.
I had originally intended for Sebastian to fall in love with a sweet debutant, but that certainly didn’t happen. When I wrote a scene about Sebastian learning to be a gentleman by reading books, I knew he had to have a crush on an extremely smart librarian. Then the book was off and running!

(2) What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
Usually the hardest part of writing any novel for me is the revision process. Cutting pages is difficult for me, and cutting whole scenes or characters is even harder. I actually love to write a first draft. I love the freedom of simply writing a story that the characters simply want me to tell.
Whispers was a little different, though! When I was about two hundred pages in I realized that it was turning out quite a bit darker different than the book I had envisioned. I tried several times to redirect things but that didn’t go so well! I ended up simply writing the book that was in my heart.

(3)What trait do you love most about your main character?
I loved both Lydia Bancroft and Sebastian Marks because they were very complex and far different from my usual types of heroes and heroines. Neither were what they seemed at first glance. They also both loved books and words and libraries … three things that I love, too!

(4)What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on the second book of my next historical series. It’s tentatively called Her Wanted Man, and it’s set in a ranch outside Fort Worth, Texas. I have a huge fondness for westerns, so I can honestly say writing about ranches, cattle, horses, and cowboys is great fun for me! The first book in the series is called A Loyal Heart, and it will be published in July of 2016