EMERY: Thank you so very much, Pamela, for joining us to talk about your new release, DEFIANT, book #3 in the MacKinnon Rangers. I am such a huge fan of this series and think all our followers will soon be too!
PAMELA: I am thrilled that you enjoyed the story! That totally makes my day! Thanks for letting me know. It’s very hard to write any period other than Regency and make it writing historicals. I’ve tried to carve a niche for myself in Colonial America, but the action element ‹ the violence ‹ is hard for readers who are used to witty banter and ballrooms. But these are the stories I have to tell, and that’s just how it is. 🙂 Thanks! I’ll get to your questions now…
1)There’s obviously a lot of research that goes into your historicals. I like how you¹ve incorporated some interesting facts into the story – a female as a chief of the Shawnee; Jonathan Edwards preaching to Joseph¹s tribe and the ritual plucking of hair from the body. How much time do you spend in research before you start the story. And, is it ongoing as you write? Is most of your research done online?
PAMELA: I have a degree in archaeology and am an unrepentent history geek. The research is part of the fun for me. Before I started this series (or even my first three historicals), I did 2.5 years of pretty intensive research on the 18th century. I updated that research when I switched from my Kenleigh-Blakewell trilogy to MacKinnon’s Rangers and focused on the French & Indian War.
I used to go to the library and check out enormous stacks of books looking especially for primary sources (like diaries, songs, collections of letters, etc.) and reading through them to find the vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and routines of daily life that you can’t get out of a history book. I did a lot of interlibrary loan, and I kept (and still have) index cards. So that’s the baseline. I refresh my research for every book, tweaking it to focus on the year in which the story is set. And I DO researching on the fly. If I find, for example, that I just don’t know the word for the little thingy on the end of a bayonet that enables it to fit over the end of a musket ‹ which happened while I was writing DEFIANT ‹ I end up researching that. The Internet is enormously helpful in that regard, but it’s not the only source.
During the course of working on the MacKinnon’s Rangers series, I met the archaeologist who excavated the rangers encampment at Fort Edward; the woman who ran the Rogers Island (Ranger Island) Visitor Center; the curator of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum; and two of the foremost experts in the country on the Rangers. I’m friends with them on Facebook, have their emails and so on, so when I have a question, I can always email them. They’ve always been able to help. I think of research as the soil from which my characters grow, so it has to be rich and well-tilled to produce a rich novel. I want to be able to stand in my characters’ and have a 360 view of their world. If I don’t, I do more research. 🙂
PAMELA: The language that describes sex is tough from book to book and getting tougher. If I use a term to describe an orgasm in one book, I feel it’s burnt. I can’t reuse it, at least not in the same way. But the scenes themselves ‹ i.e., how and when they “do it” ‹ is based on the characters, so that never gets difficult. Each character is unique, and each couple is unique. How they approach sex is going to be unique.
3)You write both historicals and romantic suspense. How does it differ for you as an author writing historicals as compared to romantic suspense?
PAMELA: Romantic suspense books are all based on things I’ve investigated as a reporter. Some of them involve years of in-depth reporting and a lot of facts and events that were real; others are just drawn loosely from a topic I covered. So there’s a cathartic element to writing romantic suspense. Some of the things I’ve seen and done as a journalist were not good things, and it’s been good for me to get it out of my system.
It was my agent’s idea that I write romantic suspense. I was chatting with her one evening about my second novel, which I was in the midst of writing, and told her about some threats I’d gotten at work. She was very quiet for a moment and then said, “You know, you really ought to write romantic suspense, because you live it.” And I said, “Yeah, except for the ‘romantic’ part.” There’s a fair amount of research involved, but it’s pretty simple research compared to work on a historical. The language I can use while writing a contemporary novel is very broad. I don’t have to look up a word to see if it existed in 2012, for example. That’s fun. Historicals are where I started, and they’re what I loved to read most. Everything about the language is harder, but the plot and character challenges are constant no matter what genre I write. A person is a person. Creating a fully fleshed person isn’t easy, whether he exists now or 300 years ago. For me, there’s more romance in a historical than in romantic suspense. I love the feeling of being lost in another time.
4)To my mind Joseph is also a MacKinnon brother. So I hope that Joseph will get his story. Is that a possibility and if so when?
PAMELA: Joseph is absolutely a MacKinnon. He and the brothers are, well, brothers. He WILL get his own book, but I can’t say when. I’m not sure what I’ll be writing next. But his book will come. I have a concept for it now, which came to me after a conversation with the former director of the Rogers Island Visitor Center ‹ just a comment she made that stuck in my head. (She has read the books, by the way, including DEFIANT.)
5) In Defiant we also saw a real change in William Wentworth. I heard that he may also get his own story. Can you please confirm?
PAMELA: This last question is kind of a spoiler. I’d answer No. 5, but I really want people thinking the worst. I’m mean that way. 🙂 Pamela
EMERY: My personal theory is that she won’t kill off such a fabulous multi-dimensional villain. For Wentworth is the kind we all love to hate. (Personally, this Georgian era lover thought he was incredibly hot!) But I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see, won’t we? Lol!