I wrote three thrillers - "Beyond Recall", "After Shock", and "The Experiment" - under a male pen-name: Stephen Kyle. Published by Warner Books, they were very successful. I confess to wreaking a good deal of havoc in those novels. At last count, I killed 27 really nice characters who weren’t doing a thing wrong, 19 nasty types who were, and about 430,000 totally innocent bystanders. I burned them at the stake, hanged them, drained their blood with hemorrhagic fevers, zapped their brains with electrical eruptions from space-based missions gone awry, tortured them to death, and drove them to suicide. A healthy outlet, don’t you think? But there may be a price: my husband warns of a purgatory in store for me, where the souls of all the innocent characters I’ve murdered will hound me until the end of time.
My real love has always been historical fiction, and in 2008 Kensington Books published my first historical novel, "The Queen’s Lady". Set in the court of King Henry VIII, "The Queen’s Lady" features Honor Larke, a (fictional) ward of (the real) Sir Thomas More. More was a brilliant scholar and a loving father, but as chancellor of England he banned books and burned men. My story turns on Honor’s passionate conflict with her once-beloved guardian as she tries to save More’s victims, enlisting rogue ship-captain Richard Thornleigh in her missions.
Readers found these characters so engaging, I wrote a sequel, "The King’s Daughter," featuring Honor and Richard’s daughter, Isabel. When Henry VIII’s bitter daughter, Queen Mary, launches her reign with a vow to annihilate heretics, Isabel Thornleigh must act quickly to save her family. Determined to rescue her father from prison, she entrusts her mission, and herself, to a ruthless soldier of fortune, Carlos Valverde.
"The Queen’s Captive" came next. When Queen Mary releases her 20-year-old sister Princess Elizabeth from the Tower, hoping she'll make a false move and condemn herself, Honor Thornleigh returns from exile with Richard and their seafaring son, Adam, to help Elizabeth in the fight of her life. Playing a dangerous game as a double agent, aware that a false move of her own will expose her past as a condemned heretic, Honor finds her task made harder when Adam and Elizabeth fall in love. To save her family and Elizabeth, and herself, Honor must turn a headstrong princess into a queen before “Bloody Mary” destroys them all.
I’ve been delighted by the tremendous response from readers about my historicals, and hope everyone will enjoy even more my latest in this “Thornleigh” series, "The Queen's Gamble." Isabel, the Thornleighs’ daughter, returns to London from the New World with her Spanish husband Carlos Valverde and their young son, and is swept up in the first international crisis of the young Queen’s Elizabeth reign: the French, who control Scotland, have landed troops along England’s border, threatening an invasion. The Queen recruits Isabel to take money secretly to aid the Scottish rebel faction trying to drive out the French. But when Carlos is sent to Scotland as a Spanish military adviser to the French troops, he and Isabel find they are on opposite sides in this deadly war – and the Queen has made their little boy her hostage.
I love writing about the Tudor/Elizabethan period, whose "on the make" characters and life-and-death intrigues – to say nothing of the era's religious paranoia – speak deeply to our own time. I hope you'll agree, and will enjoy being caught up in the passions and setbacks, adventures and strivings of the Thornleigh family – Honor, Richard, Isabel, and Adam – as they befriend, and sometimes betray, their willful kings and queens.