Recently, someone asked me where my weird ideas come from. I guess she meant, why are you so into paranormal? Why do you write about werewolves and demons and monsters from another time continuum?
When I was in elementary school, the DC Public Library sent a “book basket” to every classroom every month. In fifth grade, when the teacher put RED PLANET, by Robert Heinlein, up on the eraser ledge, the cover illustration made me want to read the book. So I rushed up to get it before anyone else could.
Thus began a lifelong interest in science fiction and fantasy. That was a big part of my recreational reading for years, with adventure and mystery thrown in.
In the early sixties, I didn’t have a television set. I got a TV for one reason–so I could watch a cool new program that my friends were talking about--Star Trek.
So I come by my interest in the paranormal honestly. The first novel I wrote was a kids' SF story, THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS, about a bad alien and a good alien that land in the woods across the street from my house. (Only I gave the house to a 12-year-old boy who was a lot like my son.) In the 80's, the big romance boom started, and a friend asked if I’d like to write one. I told her I hadn’t read any, so she brought me shopping bags full. And I discovered they were all about the subplot that I’d loved in the science fiction and adventure novels I read–the development of a relationship between a man and a woman.
At first, I wrote straight romances. Then I figured out I was better at romantic suspense. And after a few romantic suspense novels, I began incorporating SF and fantasy elements into my stories.
I can look back at some of the influences on my career. I think the first alternate universe book I read was THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. And a good early example for me of the universe that runs parallel to ours but is somehow different was an episode of the original Star Trek, MIRROR MIRROR, where there's an "evil" universe existing beside ours. Narnia is very different from our world. The univese in MIRROR MIRROR is recognizable to us. I think of the first kind as more fantasy and the second kind as more science fiction. Or--there are quantum physics theories to explain why the latter might be possible. So I went with that.
The first werewolf book I read was DARKER THAN YOU THINK, by Jack Williamson. He made me want to BE a werewolf. I read that book when I was fifteen, so I've been attracted to the idea ever since. Then I read Robert McCammon's THE WOLF'S HOUR. Those were two books that really excited me. But for ages I thought nobody would buy a werewolf book from me (since paranormal was not IN at the time). It took years before I finally started writing KILLING MOON. It’s set in our world, but there are things here that most people don't know about, like werewolves and monsters from another universe. After writing five books in the Moon series, I needed to expand my canvas. So for NEW MOON (which will be out in March), I came up with a parallel universe, where the society is quite different from ours. (It's a bunch of city states like ancient Greece, only the city states came from our gated communities.)
I also know that my readers have been used to my telling the story in THIS universe. So I start here, go there, and come back here–to keep the familiar elements yet expand my canvas.