- by Eileen Dreyer
It seems that reinvention is quite the topic of the day. I know I’m not the only one who is heading off into a different direction. I’m certainly not the only one who found herself tumbled by the industry like a shoe in a dryer. Fortunately, I already had a lot of practice changing directions already.
I’ve always been a bit restless (all right. “A bit” is a euphemism). Before, I changed genres because I was too impatient to stay in the same place for long. Thankfully, when I was writing as Kathleen Korbel for Silhouette, they gave me limitless room to explore a wide range of ideas. I could go from very serious issue books to farces that involved secretaries from the Bronx impersonating Alpine princesses. And when I kept getting into the same conversation with Lucia Macro, I knew that even that was becoming too restrictive .
“Eileen,” she would ask with immense patience. “Who do you write for?”
” Uh huh. And what does Silhouette publish?”
“That’s right. So could we have fewer car bombs and gun battles and more love scenes?”
It was enough to send me wandering off into full suspense. Lots of material there. After all, I spent 16 years as a trauma nurse. I had a LOT to say about medicine, and a shamelessly easy stage for suspense. After all, what really is scarier than a hospital?
Then, sadly, the vagaries of publishing caught up with me. “Eileen,” my editor said when she canceled my suspense contract,”you’re like the female George Pelicanos. Everybody loves you, but nobody reads you.” I’m still trying to figure that one out. I did protest, presenting Exhibit A, my USA Today bestseller status. She, in return, showed me the sales figures from my last suspense, Sinners and Saints. The fact that my book about a level 5 hurricane bearing down on New Orleans premiered 3 days before Katrina hit, seemed to make no difference to the bean counters. I was out on the streets.
So, I thought, what the heck? I had a few years before those numbers disappeared from the system. I need something else to do while I wait them out. I had begun to really enjoy reading historical romance. I had even gotten to that terrifying point where I began to mutter, “If I were writing this book….”
I finally succumbed(It sounds so easy said this way, ignoring the attempts at women’s fiction, fiction, romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and finally a month of thumb-sucking as I tried to refind my place). I’m writing historical romance. And, okay, I’m really loving it.
So here I am reinventing myself once again. Happily I still get to do a lot of the stuff that I find most fun. Since my first book for Grand Central, BARELY A LADY, begins at the Battle of Waterloo and contains nefarious spies, I still get to kill people off. I just have to do it with cannons instead of AK47s. And when somebody dies, I can’t have the CSI team investigate it. People actually have to reason out the problem(actually not my favorite), often while dancing the quadrille. SWAT teams have morphed into Household Cavalry. Of course, I find that romance readers really don’t want to know what I find most interesting, like how grave robbers stripped the teeth from the dead at Waterloo and sold them as dentures. It was quite the thing to have Waterloo Teeth(There. At least I was able to mention it somewhere). But I’m finding the less-gruesome aspects of the period to be almost as interesting. I admit that I love the challenge of constructing a modern tale within the very strict confines of an old social system. And I find I get a kick out of calling somebody a jackanapes.
So here I am hoping that this is a hugely successful foray into the nineteenth century. All the same, I’m still catching sight of serial killers slinking around the periphery of my vision, and I want to know what they’re up to.
Later. Right now I have to see what happens when a woman stumbles over her ex-husband on a battlefield in an enemy uniform. Oh, and the picture of Hugh Jackman is merely a place holder for the cover, which I should be getting shortly. Of course he’s the model for Jack Wyndham, Earl of Gracechurch. After he loses the uniform. Not, however, with golf club. That’s just weird.