Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How did you get started in writing?
MJP: I loved, loved, loved to read. In particular, I enjoyed action, adventure, romance, history, and happy endings. Since I grew up in farm country and knew no writers, it never occurred to me that I could become a writer myself. But I always had stories in my head, and when I got my first computer, I realized that I had the perfect writing tool because when you fixed mistakes, they stayed fixed. It turned out that I had good story telling instincts and a feel for Regency romances, so three months later I was offered a three book contract based on a partial manuscript of my first book (The Diabolical Baron), and after that I never looked back!
Q. Why did you end the Lost Lords Series?
MJP: Partly because my publisher wanted a new series to promote. <G> Since I still had Lost Lords characters that I wanted to write about, I proposed a spin-off series, the Rogue Redeemed, which takes place in the same world and has some of the same characters, but is based on the friendship of five men who bonded as captives in a Portuguese cellar as they awaited execution at dawn. The heroes have a variety of backgrounds and the stories are on a wider canvas, but the tone is similar to the Lost Lords.
Q. I loved The Marriage Spell and am just enchanted with the characters. Are you going to continue the series and create stories about Jack's friends?
MJP: Sadly, the answer is no. (I have over 70 pages of emails from people asking this!) I changed publishers, and my new house wanted straight historicals and a fresh series. So I came up with a new origin story for a group of male friends and removed the magic, but used the secondary characters from The Marriage Spell, with slight name changes. (I missed the magic, but I had a mortgage to pay!)
So—Ashby has become Ashton in Loving a Lost Lord, Lost Lords #1. It's basically the same storyline I had in mind for Ashby. Removing the magic obviously causes some changes, but the story and characters work just fine as historical romance. Ransom/Randall's story, Never Less Than a Lady, Lost Lords #2, had Judith/Julia as the heroine, and it's essentially what I had in mind for them all along.
Still, stories grow and change and new characters emerge. In writing Randall’s story, I came up with a lovable rogue who wasn’t in The Marriage Spell, and he became the hero of Nowhere Near Respectable, Lost Lords #3. I never want to waste a good hero!
(It's possible after I retire that I might have the discipline to write novellas about some of the people I couldn't write about earlier, and that includes some of the secondary characters from The Marriage Spell. We'll see.)
Q. Will you be writing more contemporary romances?
MJP: While I would never say never, I doubt that I’ll ever write any more. I’m proud of the three contemporaries I wrote for Berkley, but contemporary is not really my natural voice and they were also very high research books, so I decided not to continue in that direction. Still, who knows what the future may bring? Maybe someday I'll have the time to write novellas for the other two members of the Circle of Friends. I have stories for both of them!
Q. Are you going to be writing more fantasy romances in your Guardian series?
MJP: No, though I think the trilogy (A Kiss of Fate, Stolen Magic, and A Distant Magic) worked very well as a blend of history, romance, and magic. As a lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy, I love those elements and I really enjoy the Guardian world, so I’ve written several short stories and novellas set there. I intend to publish a collection of those stories in the not too distant future, and may write more someday. We'll see!
Q. Do I need to read your series in order?
MJP: No, all of my books are written as complete romances with a beginning, a middle, and an end and they stand alone well. However, reading them in order is preferable if that's possible since the world becomes richer and more layered at the series continues.
Also, some books are more closely linked than others. With the Fallen Angels series, I’d suggest starting with Thunder and Roses since you meet many of the characters and see how their friendship develop there. Ideally, Petals in the Storm would be read before Angel Rogue, and Shattered Rainbows before River of Fire and One Perfect Rose. Starting the Lost Lords series with Loving a Lost Lord is also good for similar reasons: that book sets up the premise and introduces many of the characters in the series.
Q. What are you working on now?
MJP: I’m starting a new series set a little earlier than my other series, in 1803. More than that I don't want to talk about yet.
Q. How long does it take you to write a book?
MJP: Actual writing time is usually six to seven months, but time for thought, recovery, research, and revisions has to be factored in, so I've been writing a book a year. I'll often write a shorter story during the year for a change of pace, and it takes time to manage the independent publishing of my backlist titles, so I'm always busy!
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
MJP: Ideas are everywhere—in the newspaper or magazines, in other books, on television or in the movies, or sometimes they just appear in the mind. The hard part is actually turning them from ideas into real books!
Q. Will you ever write stories about the Fallen Angels’ children?
MJP: Probably not. Very often my characters have experienced difficult childhoods and part of the story arc is their struggle to heal and build a better life. Since my Fallen Angel characters are all exemplary parents who will raise healthy, happy children, I’d have nothing to work with in their children’s stories!
The one exception to this is Amy Melbourne, daughter of the heroine in Shattered Rainbows, who became the heroine of The Bartered Bride. Because I knew that her stepfather, Lord Michael Kenyon, would protect her from any harm in Britain, I had to send the poor girl to the other side of the world in order to get her into enough trouble for a strong story. <g>
Q. I’m writing a romance, or at least thinking about it. How do I proceed?
MJP: Read, read, read, then write, write, write. Since talent isn’t uncommon, the defining characteristic of a successful writer is a burning drive to tell stories. (This is another way of saying it helps to be a little bit crazy.) For practical aid, join the Romance Writers of America (http://rwa.org/ ) if you aren’t already a member. The organization supplies all kinds of help, including local and specialty chapters, a monthly magazine, and numerous regional and national conferences. All of these resources offer abundant information on the art and business of romance writing.
Q. Will you ever have movies made of your books?
MJP: This isn't up to me! Producing movies is incredibly complex and expensive, and historical settings are even more expensive, so if a historical movie gets made, the producers want a built-in audience. Hence, the many versions of stories by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. The China Bride has been optioned a couple of times, but I don't expect anything to ever come of that. I'm happy to be able to publish old fashioned books.
Q. Will you ever write original stories for e-book publishing?
MJP: I have nothing against the idea in principle, but there's that question of finding the time! Also, I do best when I have deadlines. Without them, I'm not sure I'd finish anything!