Writing: Picking a Fellow Writer’s Brain

I invited my friend and fellow writer, Mary Lou Rigdon, to my blog this week for a Q & A. We come at writing from different angles, so I thought you might like to hear another writer’s approach. She writes Regency romances under the name Julia Donner, and her book, The Tigresse and the Raven, will be on special this week, Jan. 19-23, on Kindle for $0.99!

1. How did you start writing historical romance?
First, thanks for asking me to come on your blog! And for all your advice that I find myself using every day.

My first full length work was western set, a time period I was immersed in while working in my aunt’s museum. Like most regency enthusiasts, I loved Georgette Heyer. Then I visited England and Scotland and fell utterly in love. You can actually feel the history.

2. Who are 2 of your favorite authors?

Cruel question when there are so many. I’ll take the two that come to mind first, Steinbeck and James Lee Burke.

3. 2 favorite movies? (I know you’re a movie buff) And your favorite food? (Okay, that’s my obsession).

The movie one is easy. The Best Years of Our Lives, because it’s about our country’s, as well as Great Britain’s, “finest hour.” There are many films with better everything else, but I cherish that one as a tribute to a generation we will never again be able to equal.

The food thing? There’re so many goodies and so little time, but to narrow it down, I must at all cost avoid kettle-cooked potato chips. I could stick my entire head in the bag and never come out.

4. What elements do you think are important, specifically, for romance? (You helped me with the “steps” of romance, and I appreciate it).

Investment in the characters. Conflicts and obstacles to overcome. If a sensual story, the heightening of physical attraction while creating an emotional impact on the reader. (Visceral impact, if erotica, which IMHO is not always romance.) The willingness for characters to change and grow, and establishing the changes at the ending in a way that enhances the relationship.

5. What is your philosophy of life? (Didn’t expect that, did you?) Of writing?

Pretty much what is prevalent in what I write, support and loyalty for those we love, finding the courage to do what must be done.

In life as well in the stories I write, I like to look back and see how environments, people, incidents, challenges, etc., have created positive or negative change.

6. You can get a bit steamy. Would you let your mother (if she were still around) read what you write?

Are you kidding? Twenty years ago, maybe not. I’m a lot older and a little wiser. She read the fantasy series but went to heaven before the romances came out. I think she’d scold me for the “steamy” stuff with a grin and a twinkle in her eyes.

7. Any theme for your latest book, The Duchess and the Duelist?

The same theme as the series, friendship. I am fortunate to have friends who never judge me, always have my back, and never bother to ask me for a reason when I need to ask for help. In this new release, Evangeline has to learn to trust the friendship she’s offered.

8. Setting is important in your genre. It’s important in the books you write as M. L. Rigdon, too. How do you set yours up?

It depends on the genre. Fantasy requires lots of world building, which has to be concrete in the mind before it gets to the page.

Contemporary has a much different voice and less of everything. More “white” on the page, as they used to say, less description and a leap right into the action.

Historical is all about the research, immersing oneself into the time period, more description, and familiarity with customs of the time period, in order to take the reader to that place in time, learning the vernacular and cadence of the spoken word. The historical readership knows their history, so beware.

9. What advice would you give a fellow writer?

Write or work on writing every day. Find a writing group sincere about the craft, who loves, as Stanislavski said, “the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” Then listen to them.

10. And finally, out of all the protagonists and heroes you’ve written, do you have a favorite? (I have a crush on Asterly in your The Heiress and the Spy). Who’s yours and why?

Probably Ladnor-Sha from Prophecy Denied. The characters we writers create are often bits and pieces of ourselves, although there are writers who need to use living (or once-living) people.

The reason Ladnor’s a favorite is sadly obvious. Of all the characters I’ve created, he’s most like me, especially the bull-headed part.

Mary Lou, Thanks for being here and sharing with us!

Remember to look for her novel, The Tigresse and the Raven, on special this week on Amazon!(Jan. 19-23)
The Tigresse and the Raven (Book 1)
The Friendship Series

Mary Lou’s blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/
Mary Lou’s webpage: http://mlrigdon.com/
The Tigresse and the Raven:
the_Tigresse_and_the_Raven_cover[1] (2)

Her newest Regency release:
The Duchess and the Duelist

4 thoughts on “Writing: Picking a Fellow Writer’s Brain

  1. Great interview! I have so much admiration for historical writers — the sheer amount of research that goes into a book like that is staggering. I was a history major, so I know a little bit about how intricately detailed you need to make a time period seem believable. Best of luck with your books, Julia!


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