28 Nov 2015

Interview with Crimson Romance author Peggy Bird

When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, everything from questionable poetry to long journal pieces to the first chapters of murder mysteries usually featuring someone I was annoyed with at the moment as the victim. It didn’t occur to me to submit anything for publication until about 15 years ago when a memoir piece I wrote seemed tailor made for an anthology I read about. It got accepted and was published.

What is it about 'chick lit' / 'romance' that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres?
I read anything I can get my hands on. In the last month I have read two romances, one mystery, a biography of the Roosevelts, and started both Barbara Kingsolver’s latest and a book about what a Lutheran pastor learned from watching 24 hours of Christian television. I have eclectic taste.
What I like about both the romance and mystery genres is that each book has a satisfying conclusion. The hero and heroine always have a happy ending in a romance. The murderer is always caught in a mystery. Life doesn’t always work out like that so it’s comforting to have it happen in what I read.

Can you tell us a little about your latest release?

“Thankful for Love” is the latest in my “Holiday for Romance” series. The holiday in this book is Thanksgiving. The romance is between an Eastern Oregon wheat rancher, Jack Richardson, who is a widower, and Quanna Morales, the woman he hires as a nanny for his two sons. Quanna grew up on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. Her mother is Umatilla, her father Latino. Jack and Quanna fall in love but have to deal with anti-Indian prejudice, which is still, unfortunately, around. But it’s a romance, right? So you can be sure I got them through to their happily-ever-after.

What inspired you to write it?
I worked as a Public Health Service nurse on two Montana Indian reservations some years ago and have always wanted to write an Indian character who represented the pride, dignity and tradition of the people I met on the Rocky Boy’s and Crow reservations. I hope I accomplished that in this book.

If it was made into a film, who would you cast as the main characters?
I’m never very good at this but I’ll give it a try. Maybe Bradley Cooper for Jack and, for Quanna, Amber Midthunder, an American Indian actor I came across while I was researching the book. Cooper has the sexy-cute rancher vibe I picture Jack having and Amber is a beautiful mixed heritage woman, just like Quanna.

What is your favourite book that made it to the big screen?
I’m reaching back here but it’s “Gone With The Wind” which I read in high school and have seen a dozen times since.

What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
See above for the list. Of the romances I read, I’d definitely recommend Kristina Knight’s Anthem Series. I just read #1 “Light My Fire” and #2, “Start Me Up.” The mystery was “Mission to Murder,” book #2 in Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap series and also well worth the read.

Where do you currently write? And where would be your dream writing location?

I have an office all my own in my house. It is crammed full of books and reminders of what I have to do for the book I’m writing as well as scraps of paper on which I have scribbled plot ideas, snippets of dialog, and mysterious half-sentences that must mean something but I don’t know what. I also have posted things all over two bulletin boards to encourage me to get myself in the chair and write. If I could write anyplace other than home I’d probably pick Hawaii. Mostly because I’d pick Hawaii as the place I’d like to do just about everything.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I’ve had five distinct careers and have been everything I ever wanted to be when I grew up except a ballerina (that train left the station a long time ago.)

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I live in Vancouver, Washington on the Columbia River, which was the contested border between the US and Britain’s colonies in Canada until 1846 when the US gave up claims to “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight” and Britain gave up claims to what is now the state of Washington. (Can you guess I was a history major in college?)

What inspires you as an author?
Lots of things: The work of other writers. A bit of dialog I hear in a coffee shop. A piece of art. My love for a particular place. A cause that matters to me.

Do you have a muse?
I’m a believer in butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard writing, not in waiting-to-be-inspired-by-a-muse writing. Although having a deadline in a contract I signed could be construed as a muse, I guess. It certainly gets me motivated to write.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?

Meryl Streep. And I’d hope she would get another Oscar nomination when she did.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’m currently finishing up the last in the Holiday for Romance series, a Valentine’s Day romance titled, “Hearts Full of Love.” After that I haven’t decided. I have a series bouncing around in my head, as well as a memoir I’ve been working on. And there’s a mystery or two I’d like to write.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.

I don’t really have a bucket list. I’ve always taken things as they come and been fortunate enough to have had some exciting opportunities, both in my professional and personal lives. So I’m going with what’s worked so far—I’ll take whatever experience comes my way. Although if someone wanted to give me a ticket to London so I could visit friends in England one more time, I wouldn’t turn it down.

What do you listen to whilst writing?
Depends on what I’m writing. If it’s going really well, I like rock music—upbeat and rhythm driven. If it’s a tough scene or a difficult rewrite, I listen to classical music, which soothes me and doesn’t have words to distract me. If I’m working on a love scene, I like Andrea Bocelli’s music. If that doesn’t put me in the mood for writing about love, nothing will.

Name one of your all time favourite songs.
It varies from day to day but today it’s John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Born in Philadelphia, I’ve spent most of my adult life in the Pacific Northwest where I have happily grown webs between my toes and moss behind my ears. Over my adult life, I pursued a number of careers—nurse, legislative staffer, lobbyist, public affairs consultant, non-profit association executive, workshop teacher, oh, and mother and wife—before deciding to leave it all for what I’ve loved through every stage of life—writing.
But instead of the intricately plotted mysteries and deeply moving memoir pieces I assumed I’d write, the characters in every piece of fiction I started wanted their love stories told. Even when I had many of them hanging around questionable people or involved in murder, intrigue and general mayhem.
That’s how my Crimson Romances were born. All the stories are set in some of my favorite places in the country—Portland, Oregon, the Puget Sound, Philadelphia. My second series, A Holiday For Romance, includes some of my favorite times of the year—Independence Day, Halloween, Christmas/Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, birthdays and maybe a few more.
Still not mysteries but I’m working on it. I’m working on it.
Crimson Romance
Amazon Author Page

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