I was born and grew up in Britain, which is probably why I write British-set historical romances! Our family home was always in England, though my dad was a Highland Scot, who filled my heart with a love of Scotland. Summer holidays were spent in all kinds of wonderful places, including Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands.
My favorite home was a Georgian house in the Norfolk countryside. When we moved in, there were still stone sinks in the kitchens and servants’ bells in the hall—though we didn't have servants, of course—so it was easy to imagine living there in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Having been a romantic all my life, I adored that house, even though—with no central heating—it was an adventure in courage just to climb out of bed on winter mornings to make the dash along freezing corridors to an even colder bathroom.
Our first house—when I was little—was tiny, though I remember a wonderful big garden. We used to put out milk for the hedgehogs, and we kept a tortoise, which ate lettuce at a ferocious rate! Since I loved animals, I thought I wanted to be a vet when I grew up.
I ought to have guessed that stories would come to dominate my life instead. I was already a devoted reader, and every Christmas with my cousins, we would write and perform our own original plays. Alas, however serious and dramatic we intended them to be, my grandparents and aunts and uncles were always reduced to hysterics as soon as we began! We also made puppets and puppet theaters and created our own magazine full of stories and pictures, so I've been writing for a very long time.
A few years after the tortoise and after much begging and pleading, I was given a yellow Labrador puppy named Josephine. She and I gallivanted about the Hertfordshire countryside together, while I longed in vain for a pony and imagined being the hero of every adventurous tale I'd ever read or written, then came home and spent hours drawing horses.
Alas, Josephine died shortly after we moved into our Georgian house in Norfolk, and a sleek tabby cat took her place in my heart. I'd commandeered a room in the attics that had once been the housekeeper's sitting room, and I was generally to be found there with our tabby on my lap and my nose buried in a book. Thus I discovered that I was more interested in history than in becoming a vet, after all. (Of course, I still longed for a horse!) And by now I was writing and illustrating fantasy tales to amuse myself and my friends, though I was taking the English equivalent of college-prep pure math and mathematical physics in grammar school!
I left home to live in Edinburgh in my father's native Scotland for five years and I'm a graduate of Edinburgh University. It was lucky that I'd lived in that Georgian house in Norfolk, because a chill wind blows off the North Sea straight into Edinburgh every winter and I was never so cold in my life! Yet Scotland's capital was an amazing place to live and it's one of the loveliest cities in Britain. The Scottish summer is a glorious thing!
By now I knew I wanted to be neither a vet nor a mathematician! After I graduated, a simple desire to see something different brought me to America. I traveled as far as the Rocky Mountains and fell in love. I've lived here ever since and this is where I owned my first horse at last, (see Horses), and a series of wonderful cats. (Of course, none of us really own our cats! They just grace our lives with their beauty and companionship and warmth, if we're lucky.)
Meanwhile, I was making a living with my engineer husband designing solar homes (must have been the influence of all those cold English houses!) and still reading voraciously. I knew I missed writing, yet it never occurred to me that I could be a novelist by profession. Weren't novelists somehow from another realm from ordinary folk? And didn't you have to "know someone" to get published?
Yet in 1992, simply because I loved romance and English history, I decided to write a Regency romance. I wrote it just for me, sure it was too "different" ever to sell. The joy and passion of writing that story simply swept me away. Expecting nothing, I sent the manuscript to a publisher, pretty much at random. To my surprise I was immediately offered a two-book contract and the rest is history!