As part of our Exploding Hearts series, we’re interviewing as many romance novelists as possible between now and Valentine’s Day. Let your heart grow three – or even fourteen – sizes this February and check out these authors’ books, from the sweet and inspirational to the spicy hot.
Trudy J. Morgan-Cole is the author of What You Want, a contemporary women’s fiction road-trip novel featuring plenty of romance. We recently had the chance to ask her about her writing and influences. Here’s what she had to say.
Who are your top 5 authors or influences, and why?
It’s so hard to limit it to five! Canadian author Margaret Laurence, for her insight into the human heart. Contemporary US writer Joshilyn Jackson, for the same, plus being wickedly witty. Historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman for letting readers walk into the past like she has a time machine. Fantasy writer Robin Hobb for extraordinary world-building. Memoirist Anne Lamott for raw honesty and laughing through tears.
What fuels your writing?
Curiosity. I write about things I want to know more about.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
What You Want is a book about a bunch of characters who were rattling around in my head for awhile. These three people – Jonathan, Andrew and Megan – showed up as fully-formed people in my brain, and I decided to put them in a car and sent them on a road trip to find out what would happen.
How (if at all) does your geographic location influence your writing?
A lot! Most of my work is historical fiction set here in beautiful Newfoundland, Canada, my home. What You Want is a bit different from most of my work in that it’s not historical; it’s contemporary. All three of the characters live in St. John’s, Newfoundland, as I do, but in this story it’s the point of departure – the place they set out from to see North America.
As a romance author, what inspires the types of stories you’re drawn to tell in your books? And what kinds of books do you enjoy reading?
I’m not really a romance author, though most of my books do have romance in them. Sometimes the romances don’t always work out so well, though, which is why I’d never make it as a genre romance author – I can’t always guarantee a happy ending. For this book I’d originally planned a much more open-ended, ambiguous ending – but in the end the story, and the characters, drove me to much more of a resolution, which I think is probably one of the most romantic things I’ve written. I love stories that are character-driven, where the characters feel like real people with all their flaws, quirks and complexities.
What’s your writing routine like? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
Mostly a “pantser.” (I hate that expression though because I don’t like the word “pants”). I write to figure out what will happen. Even when I try to write an outline or plan things out ahead of time, stories often end up going in directions I didn’t expect.
How much time do you usually spend researching a novel before you begin writing?
If it’s a historical novel, I’ll do a few months’ worth of research first, then plunge in and start writing so I can figure out how much I don’t know. Then I keep researching throughout the process. What You Want was actually kind of a break for me because it’s contemporary, so while I had to do some research about the places my characters travel on their road trip, I didn’t have to spend hours in the library or online figuring out what they would have eaten for breakfast or what kind of underwear they had on. That’s the kind of thing you end up doing in historical fiction.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’m also a teacher, so I guess if I weren’t a writer I’d be “just” a teacher, which is still a pretty full life. But I can’t imagine not writing.
What are some of your hobbies or sports of choice when getting out from behind the desk?
I love hiking and geocaching in the summer. My biggest problem is that I live in a place where there’s lots of winter, and I don’t really enjoy being outdoors in winter, though my husband and I have tried snowshoeing this winter. Other than that my hobbies are all nerdy bookwormish ones – reading and doing crossword puzzles, mostly.
What are you currently working on, and why will it melt hearts?
My work in progress is tentatively titled A Roll of the Bones, and it’s the first volume in a historical fiction trilogy about two young people, Nancy and Ned, who are among the first settlers in a place called Cupids, Newfoundland, in the early 1600s. Fate seems to be bringing them together until it drives them apart. Their adventures will take them halfway over the globe in the age of exploration before they find their way back to each others’ arms. Also: pirates!