AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR
Merline Lovelace's new release for September 2003, A SAVAGE BEAUTY, is the
first book in a new multigenerational Oklahoma series. She has answered a
few questions about this interesting new series.
Barbara: Merline, I've read that you were among a group of the first women to attend Princeton University, then you became a squadron commander in the Air Force during the feminist era--plus, you are a multi-published romance author? These are all wonderful accomplishments. Do you have any other groundbreaking goals planned for the future? Perhaps making the New York Times Bestseller list?
Merline: Funny, I don't think of myself as either a goal-setter or a trend-setter. I just have a lively sense of adventure and jump at new opportunities as they arise.
As for the future, I've got my sights set on three targets -- making the New York Times list, of course; riding a camel out to see the pyramids; and breaking into the 80s again in golf. I'd be happy with any one of those.
Barbara: A SAVAGE BEAUTY is the first novel in a multigenerational Oklahoma series. How did this story idea develop?
Merline: Al and I love history and love to explore. When we first moved to Oklahoma, we roamed all over the state and I became thoroughly fascinated with its incredibly diverse history. The Viking rune stones at Heavener State Park especially caught my imagination. Imagine, Vikings in Oklahoma! I knew I had to write about that one day.
I started researching Oklahoma history in depth and really got the itch to write a series that would touch on some of the forces that shaped this state and the nation. That's when I stumbled across General Wilkinson, who chartered the first military expedition to explore this area. He was such an incredible scoundrel I decided to open the series during his era.
I hope to take the series down through the turn of the century, through WWI and II, and up to the present.
Barbara: The fictional characters, Louise Chartier and Daniel Morgan, become entangled in the real historical drama of the struggle between Major General James Wilkinson and his son, Lieutenant James Biddle Wilkinson. How challenging was this to blend fictional characters with real historical figures?
Merline: VERY challenging! But that's why I love writing historicals -- it's like fitting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.
For this book, I read tons of stuff about the Louisiana Purchase and the biographies of Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr and General Wilkinson. I even plowed through the 6-volume journals of Zebulon Pike.
As I read, I built a detailed chronology of events. Then I inserted my
characters' dates -- their birthdays, marriages, etc. -- to work them into the historical timeline.
The hard part about doing a historical like this is NOT using all the neat and unusual stuff I uncover during my research. Truth really is stranger than fiction!
Barbara: You never chose the easy way out of the trials and hardships for Louise Chartier and Daniel Morgan--could you discuss some of your thoughts and motivations for the conflicts these characters faced?
Merline: I really respect a sense of honor in a character, so I wanted Daniel's obligation to his wife and his desire for Louise to rip him apart. I also wanted the army to be part of him. His blackest moment is when he loses all three -- his wife, Louise, and the brotherhood of arms he's given so much of his life to.
I saw Louise as more earthy and passionate. When she loves, she loves with all her being. Thus there's no question in her mind what she has to do to save Daniel.
Barbara: You are an incredibly prolific writer. Writing for several different book lines and genres, and over 50 books published. Do you ever have time to read, and who are your favorite authors?
Merline: I don't have as much time to read now as I used to, but I still scarf up books like candy. I re-read Georgette Heyer regularly -- such wonderful character studies!
I also love Nelson DeMille, Nora Roberts, Stephen Ambrose, Janet Evanovitch, and an mystery author I just started reading, Carl Haasen.
Barbara: You've written military novels, category romance, romantic suspense, historical sagas. Are there any new genres you are planning on exploring in the future? Comedy, futuristic, time travel?
Merline: I did a Roman-era time-travel 'way back when and had ball with it. I'd like to do another -- hopefully the last book in the Oklahoma series will involve the Viking warrior mentioned in the prologue to A SAVAGE BEAUTY.
I'm also about to start work on a new contemporary series involving a former agent for the AF Office of Special Investigations. It's chock-full of action, adventure, and globe-trotting secret agents.
Thanks again for including me in the premier issue of the website. May you have a zillion hits a day!!!!
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