1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I realized I wanted to be a writer when I found out that stories could be written down in books and put on a library shelf. My family name is Faulkner, and my family has as tradition of oral storytelling. I’ve been spinning moonbeams since I was old enough to talk. Incidentally, my oldest daughter, Hunter Morgan, is also a bestselling novelist.

2. Did your family influence you a lot?

Yes, they did. I come from a heritage of Native American and Celtic ancestry, and these original people have always felt the power of words.

3. What qualities do you need to become a good writer?

Determination, imagination, hard work!

4. Do you have an agent?

Yes, I have a wonderful agent, Evan Marshall. My job is to write; his to find the right market and/or to direct my career. I would no more attempt the business side of writing than I would attempt to represent myself in a law suit.

5. How do you deal with criticism?

First I shed an invisible tear or two, then attempt to shrug it off. Criticizing another writer’s story is like criticizing their child. Each writer tells a story from a particular point of view. We flesh out the plot, bring the characters alive, and add a bit of blood and soul to each work of fiction. No one likes criticism, but we all must learn to live with it. I constantly strive to make each book better, and no author’s work is ever as good as he/she wanted it to be.

6. Why do you choose to write historical fiction?

I grew up in a farming community on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, a vital, exciting place full of wonderful tales. I heard of ‘the trouble between the states’ (American Civil War) and the ‘problem’ with England (American Revolutionary War), pirates, Indians, heroes and heroines and thought it had all happened in my grandfather’s lifetime. Oral storytellers are the bards of mankind. My granddad brought history alive, and I wanted to remember the men and women who came before us. I wanted the dream of how it ‘should have been’. And I’m really an 18th century person, much more at home on horseback or alone in a country meadow amid a herd of deer than speeding along an interstate or walking a busy city street. I love the peace of the woodlands, home baked bread, and the music of a mountain stream. Writing historical fiction came natural to me.

7. How did you fare with your first novel?

A wonderful editor at Avon saw something worthy in my first one. I was green as grass and the story had a thousand holes and lumps, but she believed in me, and together we crafted a solid story. I wrote 17 novels for Avon, but editors change as well as the tastes of the reading public. Another editor at Ballantine made me ‘an offer I couldn’t refuse’, so I moved on. Now, I write for a fantastic editor at Dorchester, but all my past editors have taught me more than I can calculate and they all remain fast friends.

8. How authentic should a story be?

A writer should know the market and write from the heart. I found my early success by telling the stories of people I knew, the men and women of colonial America.
Nothing turns reader off more than false statements. I have to walk the roads, see the color of the sky, hear the voices of the people. I had three hundred years of heritage to draw on here in the Mid-Atlantic states of the United States as well as the lore of the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic coast, and Delaware Bays. When my editors asked me to consider other locations, I travelled there and did extensive research. When I was writing about the world and times of Alexander the Great and the Princess Roxanne, the little star, the most beautiful woman in Persia, I had to travel in my dreams. This is different, and in some ways, the more exciting work of my life. So far.

9. How do you see the characters in your novels?

Characters make novels. Understanding the people, why they do the things they do, makes for characters that leap off the pages. I don’t believe that humans change beneath the skin. Mothers still risk their lives for their children; lovers still defy society, and friends make the difference between a life of spiritual poverty and untold riches. Villains are rarely all bad, and heroines without flaws are too boring to take up page space.
Humans are complex, multi-layered, full of fears, and capable of unbelievable acts of courage. All writers are people watchers.

10. Which authors do you yourself admire?

Hunter Morgan, Colleen Faulkner, Donna Clayton, Candace McCarthy, Anya Seton, Roberrta Gellis, Wilbur Smith, Dean Koonz, Morgan Llewelyn, Pearl Buck, Sharon Kay Penman, Evan Marshall, Joan Wolf, Noah Gordon, Steven King, Judith Tarr, Rosamunde Pilcher, Mary Stewart and a hundred more. Those are the authors on the shelves closest to my computer. The bookshelves in my home are groaning. What can I say? I’m a bookaholic?

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© 2005 Nickie Fleming/Jansan