I came back to romance writing, after a 25 year gap, because of the TV series ‘The West Wing’.
Between 1969 and 1980, I had four novels published, by Mills and Boon/Harlequin and Robert Hale. I then abandoned fiction writing, apart from a few short stories for magazines in the 80’s and early 90’s. Family, career as a teacher and involvement with both amateur musical theatre and Girl Guiding took precedence for many years (although I did write monthly articles for the Girl Guiding magazine for several years in the 90’s). So I didn’t abandon writing completely.
In the early years of this century, I became totally hooked on TV’s ‘The West Wing’ and eventually found links to internet groups who shared my interest in this series. I also discovered ‘fan-fiction’ for the first time, and avidly read the stories that had been written about the West Wing characters, particularly ‘Jed and Abbey’ the President and First Lady (played by Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing).
An email conversation with another West Wing fan, where we discussed what might have happened once Jed’s presidency was over, started me writing a possible scenario. I had no idea at that time just what this would lead to. I wrote the first story simply for my friend. She loved it and persuaded me to post it on one of the West Wing fan sites, which I eventually did, with great trepidation – and then with great relief when it was well received. I went on to write several more West Wing stories.
I was happy enough writing these stories, but fate took a hand. In 2008 I did an American Civil War battle field tour in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Also on the tour was Harlequin best-selling writer, Linda Lael Miller. We got talking about writing, and Linda persuaded me to try my hand at novels again.
When I got home, I dug out an old MS. It was a story which had been rejected by Mills and Boon in the 70’s when their format changed. I started rewriting it, bringing it up to date, and submitted it to the Harlequin editor suggested by Linda. Alas, she rejected it!
But by then my muse had returned. I also found a couple of excellent critique partners. With their help, I tightened up my writing style, and wrote another novel. Last May this was accepted by Whiskey Creek Press. ‘His Leading Lady’ is due for release next year.
I’ve completed another novel which I am about to submit, and have started to rewrite the first novel too. Ideas for other novels continue to jump around in my head.
But I will always say that it was ‘Jed and Abbey’ from the West Wing who brought me back to writing romances. Thank you, Martin and Stockard for your superb portrayal of these two characters which inspired me to start writing again!