1. Christina, what would you rank as your top three talents?
I can cook, I can write, and … ummm. Well, I can cook, and I can write.
2. What has been your biggest writing accomplishment so far, and how did you celebrate it?
Just getting my first book published (CANDLE IN THE WINDOW) was incredibly hard and took ten years. My husband and I took my advance and our kids to DisneyWorld. Hitting the NYT for the first time was huge — and my husband brought home flowers, candy and champagne. He’s the reason I believe in romance. Continuing to write successfully for twenty-four years and fifty books has been satisfying in the long haul, and that’s a celebration in itself. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m thrilled to be writing romance and suspense. Writing is what I was born to do!
3. It took you 10 years and three manuscripts before you sold. What was the problem with those early efforts? Did it have anything to do with setting your story in Guatemala and throwing in every plot device but the kitchen sink? Just wondering.
Let me think. Yes. You put it very well.
4. Critics laugh at some romance conventions, such as cross-dressing virginal heroines and swashbuckling heroes with amazing sexual prowess, which they correctly point out are implausible and transparent. Are we being shameless panderers when we keep writing this stuff? Or is what we do art?
I am absolutely a shameless panderer to the female fantasy, just as Hollywood shamelessly panders to the male fantasy with the James Bond franchise. Really — is a nineteenth century cross-dressing female doctor who travels undetected from Boston to Guatemala to heal native Americans (to hark back to my first, unpublished historical) any sillier than a man who dresses in expensive suits, steals a nuclear reactor, escapes unhurt through a hail of gunfire and explosions to spend the night in the arms of a beautiful, anonymous woman who conveniently appears for sex and disappears (or dies) before the affair gets messy? Yes, I’ve been known to laugh at the critics, too. Also, you can read an article I wrote for the Romance Writers Report titled “Romance Clichés for the Twentieth Century.”
5. What can you tell readers about yourself that they’d never guess from your books?
Considering that I’ve written some pretty spooky paranormals, I guess I would say readers would be surprised that I’m the biggest chicken in the world. “Ghostbusters” scared me.
6. There have been surveys that say romance books are on the downslide, that it’s harder to make it in the romance genre than any other.
Someone should tell Nora Roberts.
7. Do you feel that this is true? Why?
What stats are they quoting? The stats on the Romance Writers of America website seem to pretty conclusively point to the continued success of romance. And let’s face it, as long as men and women continue to get together romantically, people over the age of “Oo, ick, kissing is yucky,” are going to want to read about it.
For me as a reader? No, I read Georgette Heyer quite happily, and I also enjoy Sylvia Day. For me as a writer? Yes, my goal is to write love scenes so compelling they char the pages. In fact, I always tell people to take a clue from the title of A WELL PLEASURED LADY; it is hot and politically incorrect. Buy at your own risk!
9. Sex scenes can be unintentionally funny, awkwardly written and purple prose pits. How do you approach them?
The same way porcupines makes love: Very carefully.
10. If someone were to ask you for advice on becoming a writer, what would you tell them?
Put your rear in the chair and write.
11. Which authors / books have most influenced you?
When I was six, I started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and I never looked back. I love THE LORD OF THE RINGS; in fact, my husband and I named my daughters after the female characters. I read research books for fun. My favorite book ever is either CHARLOTTE’S WEB or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Or maybe the HARRY POTTER series. And of course, I read romance of all kinds — which is why I write romance of all kinds!
12. Favorite vacation destination so far?
The original cover of CASTLES IN THE AIR, aka the three-armed woman.
14. Coolest structure in your yard?
No, he is not, and I wish he would stop spreading that rumor. My husband and I did train Ritter to be an assistance dog. He almost made it, too!