To read? All kinds of genres. All flavours of romance, from contemporary to historical to paranormal, and from dark to light. Although I prefer lighter contemporaries, when I think about it. I also like reading a bit of SF and fantasy, and the stuff that doesn't really fit a genre, like Jasper Fforde.
To write? Hmm. Probably the paranormal stuff, because I love being able to make up worlds and explore situations of my own making. While I do genuinely enjoy researching real-world books, I find it frustrating when I can't get the info I need, so creating a world with its own rules is more fun for control-freak me.
9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
How do I get ideas? Oh no. Not this one.
I don't really have a process for creating my characters. I just think about them a lot, and then I write about them. That's not very interesting, is it?
Okay, a case in point. Aidan from Hardest of Hearts. He was a vampire, he was Irish, he was gorgeous, he was over a hundred years old. That's about what I had when I started writing him. The story was being told first-person from the heroine's POV, so what I learned about Aidan was what Emma learned about him. He got into a dialogue with her about a vampire she'd killed, and it turned out that said vampire was the one who bit Aidan and made him a vampire in the first place. How and when was he bitten? What had he been before that? I wasn't really sure, but he'd been a young man, quite innocent, until he was corrupted. So far, so ordinary.
Then an absolute throwaway comment from him sparked an idea that turned his character in an entirely different direction. Emma swore, and Aidan made an unexpected reply:
“Jesus Christ,” I mumbled.
“That,” purred the voice in my ear, “is blasphemy.”
He managed to jolt me out of my shock. “You’re a believer?”
“What? Just because a man has fangs and drinks blood means he can’t believe in the Almighty?”
“Well,” I said, “yes.”
He grinned and squeezed my shoulder. “You’re so naïve.”
From there it was a train of thought that thundered through the following stations: Aidan believes in God. He's 19th century Irish, so he's probably Catholic. He was turned in 1873 at the age of 23 so he was born in 1850 which means (cue some fast Googling) we're talking Potato Famine here. He's survived that, and probably wants to thank God in some way. I've already established that real, strong religious belief is very powerful against vampires. What if Aidan doesn't just believe, but serves God? He's a gorgeous charmer, so what are the odds he's stayed innocent until the vampire turned him? What if he took a vow of celibacy? What if everything he's become is against everything he once fiercely believed?
What if my vampire was once a priest?
From there Aidan became a lot more interesting. Everything he did was a struggle between the man he used to be, the man he wanted to be, and the demon perverting it all. The temptations he'd managed to avoid in his human life became overwhelming as a vampire, and once he fell off the wagon he fell hard. So hard that over a hundred years later he's still atoning for the things he did.
I charted his progress, from waking up in a rather compromising position with a female vampire who at the same time destroyed his vow of celibacy and put paid to any ideas he might have about praying, to the steady erosion of all his previous principles, to becoming a whoring, murderous monster, to the revelation during the Holocaust that there were further depths to which he was not prepared to sink, to the self-imposed rehabilitation and course of atonement he'd been on for the best part of seventy years. All of which brought me to the gorgeous, charming, dissolute but kind, moral and tortured individual who turned up in a shop called Oh My Goth and proceeded to wreak havoc with a vampire hunter called Emma.