Her Loving Husband’s Return has been on the Amazon Best-Seller List since the day after it was released. Thank you.
I’ve received a number of questions about The Loving Husband Trilogy, so I decided to answer some of the most frequently asked questions here. Some of these I’ve answered in bits and pieces in various interviews. Today, Part 1.
1. Where did you come up with the idea for The Loving Husband Trilogy?
Here’s my answer in this previous post. Between watching True Blood, reading Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, and the Twilight books, believe me, I had a brain full of vampire waiting to get out. Luckily for me, that vampire turned out to be James Wentworth.
2. Did you always know it would be a trilogy?
I did. From very early in the idea gathering process for this story I knew the connection between James/Elizabeth/Sarah and I knew the ending as we find it in Her Loving Husband’s Return. The further I went into mapping out the story, the more I knew I wanted to cover several different historical periods. In order to keep the story as I saw it a manageable length, I split it into three books. In an earlier interview I said as a joke that I wanted to avoid writing a 900-page tome that would send readers screaming for mercy. I wasn’t too far off. The combined page count of the Loving Husband Trilogy is 818 pages.
3. How did you come to set the stories in Salem? Have you ever lived/visited there?
I decided to set the story in Salem by accident. I was deciding where to set the story, and I deliberately stayed away from the Pacific Northwest and Louisiana in the U.S. since other well-known literary vampires live there. I thought of my hometown Los Angeles or where I live now in Las Vegas, but neither of those felt right. Too bright, I think. Then I decided that if I wasn’t going Northwest how about Northeast? I pulled up a map of the U.S., looked at the Northeast, saw Massachusetts, and there in a little dot near Boston was Salem. That’s it. It took me as long to decide to set the story in Salem as it took me to write these sentences.
I have never lived in Salem or anywhere in Massachusetts. I was born in New York, but we moved to the West Coast when I was seven and I consider Los Angeles my hometown. In fact, I had never even visited Salem when I wrote Her Dear & Loving Husband. Thank goodness for the Internet, websites about Salem, and Google Earth. I did finally visit Salem in July 2011 while I was writing Her Loving Husband’s Curse, and I loved it. In fact, I wanted to move there. Luckily, everything in Salem was where I thought it should be. You can see my posts about my trip to Salem here.
4. How did you decide which historical periods to use?
The decision to use the Salem Witch Trials was a no-brainer once I decided to set the story in Salem. Since I wanted the historical periods to echo what was happening to James and Sarah in the present day, I needed to choose the historical periods carefully. The Trail of Tears and the Japanese-American Internments happened to coincide with the way I saw the story progressing. To a degree, you could say the history informed the story; in other words, once I decided on the historical periods that helped me shape the plot.
5. How long did it take you to write the books?
It was four years, almost exactly to the day, from when I first pressed fingers to the keyboard typing out the ideas for Her Dear & Loving Husband (in April 2009) until Her Loving Husband’s Return was published (in April 2013). It took longer than a year for me to write Her Dear & Loving Husband because it took time for me to find the narrative thread. The plot was more complex than other novels I had written, weaving the way it does between the past and the present, and it took time for me to work it out.
I read about these authors who publish 3, 4, 5 books a year and I’m amazed by them. When all is said and done, it takes me about a year to write a book. Keep in mind I’m not writing the whole time. I have to live with an idea in my head for a while before I ever start writing. I have to kick the idea around, soften it up, pull it here and tug it there to see if there’s anything in those odd daydreams. I kicked the idea around about the vampire missing his long-dead human wife for about six months before I ever began writing about James and Sarah. Once I start writing, it can take anywhere from 4-6 months for me to have a draft I’m happy with, and then the editing process is intensive because I’m persnickety about how the words read on the page. The editing process for me takes 1-2 months.
6. Do you have editors/beta readers?
You betcha. It’s imperative to have other sets of eyes read your fiction. As authors we can get caught up in our own heads and we forget to make our stories cohesive for our readers.
Her Dear & Loving Husband wouldn’t be the story it is without the help of an amazing romance author and critique extraordinare, Laurin Wittig. I saw the story so clearly in my head, but I was having trouble articulating it on the page. With Laurin’s sharp eye and finely tuned comments, I was able to finally write the story I meant to write in the first place. Once I figured out what I was doing with Her Dear & Loving Husband, writing the next two was an easier process, though I always have editors/other readers helping me.
Here’s a Loving Husband Trilogy F.Y.I: The original title of Her Dear & Loving Husband was The Vampire’s Wife. Laurin suggested that The Vampire’s Wife was too much of a giveaway about the story, so after stumbling across Anne Bradstreet’s poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” I changed it to Her Dear & Loving Husband. The revised title has the same idea as the original title, but it takes a little more digging to figure out what it means. And I love that the poem was able to serve as a connection between James and Elizabeth and James and Sarah. Little things like that make me happy.