A special thank you goes out to Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby mystery series, for inviting me to join this blog hop! I am a huge fan of “The Anatomist’s Wife” (book 1) and “Mortal Arts” (book 2). Keira is smart, sassy, and determined – a character you will want to root for again and again. The third book “A Grave Matter” arrives July 1st, so that leaves you plenty of time to meet Keira in books 1 and 2 before book 3 arrives!
What are you working on?
I’m working on a two-book series where a modern history professor, Laura Seaton, a lowly assistant professor whose career is going nowhere, stumbles on a mysterious manuscript and finds herself in the year 1485, on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth. There, she meets Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry Tudor) who believes Laura is an answer to her fervent prayers. She asks Laura to do what she cannot – go to the bedside of her son who is dying of the sweating sickness before he can claim his destiny on the throne of England.
The second book takes place in 1487 as the Lambert Simnel rebellion threatens to topple the new Tudor regime. Laura must use her knowledge and race to uncover the real origins of the pretender Simnel in order to safeguard the peace of the realm.
How does your work differ from others in the same genre?
I have always been fascinated by the parallels between women’s lives both past and present, so I like to juxtapose the two, exploring the differences but more importantly, the similarities. Since I am a scientist by training, I like to analyze the situations and see where that takes the stories. It may seem like a modern-day professor and Lady Margaret Beaufort would have little in common, but I’ve found that they are more alike than one would typically imagine.
I also believe that historic women have often been unfairly swept into categories, namely “saint” or “witch”. And I think if we could speak to those women now (such as Lady Margaret Beaufort), their real stories, like our own, would prove to be much more complicated than a simple label could describe. My writing is an attempt for those women to show all the different facets of their characters. What made them tick? What did they fear? What did they hope for? How are their stories like our own?
Why do you write what you do?
I have always been drawn to history and the stories of strong women, so that’s what I write. I think my writing, like that of many others, is autobiographical to some degree. Women face an uphill battle to achieve personal and professional successes, both now and over the past hundreds of years, and I think those stories are fascinating and worth the journey. I have to feel a strong connection to the subject to keep chugging along, and I find those connections in the stories of historic women.
How does your writing process work?
I have a “day job” as well as a toddler daughter, so my writing process is rather sporadic. Basically, it gets done when I can fit it in. I’d like to say I write daily, but that simply isn’t true. I find I’m always thinking about the stories but my fingers don’t always find their way to the keyboard. I am very much a plotter/outliner. As a scientist, I think that has been seared into my head. So I start each book with a 30,000-foot outline and start to fill in the holes piece by piece. Sometimes it’s a linear process and other times it’s not, but I try to stay flexible enough to go where the story takes me.
I love the research aspect of writing, but unlike some writers I’ve spoken to, I do my research incrementally, letting the story direct my searches. I try to include a ton of historical detail, so I couldn’t possibly remember it all over the entire course of the novel. So I write some, research some, write some, research some and so on. Sometimes a research topic leads the story down a different path altogether, and that’s the most fun part of all.
Passing the baton to…
John Kachuba is the author of six books of nonfiction and one short story collection. Much of his work explores the paranormal and metaphysical realms and he is often a speaker on those topics on radio, TV, podcasts and at conferences, universities and libraries. His website is www.johnkachuba.com