PW: Since publishing your first romance in 2000, you've published nine more books, four of which are being released as part of Bantam's Get Connected romance program. How have you written so much in so little time while juggling a family and a teaching career?
Madeline Hunter: When I was first contracted for Bantam, some of these books were already written. So that certainly made the rapid publication easier. But I do probably write faster than some other people. For me, it's a matter of consistently writing and producing a certain number of pages every week.
PW: What motivated you to write a romance?
MH: A friend gave me one and said, "I really think you will like this." I happen to respect this friend a lot, so I said I would try reading it. I really enjoyed that book, and I began reading a lot of romances, not with the idea of writing one but to enjoy them as entertainment. Then one day, I realized that these were the kinds of stories I would like to write. I remember distinctly sitting down with a pen and a pad of paper one day and just beginning to write. It wasn't until I was halfway through my second book that I thought, "Maybe I should see if these are publishable."
PW: What drew you to the medieval period?
MH: I find the social history of the middle ages very interesting because it was a different era with very different assumptions about how one was to behave. The 14th century, in particular, attracted me because it was a century of great transitions, and I like having my stories play out against a background of social change.
PW: Your recent book, The Charmer , is set during the post-Regency era. Why did you change periods?
MH: I always knew I wanted to write in more than one period because I think it keeps writers fresh, especially if they are prolific. When I'm working on two books at once, I find that it helps me to move from one to the other if they're in very different periods.
PW: Have you always been drawn to history? How do you do the research for your books?
MH: I'm one of those people who has always enjoyed history. Very often, my free time reading would be either a biography or a book about some episode in history. As far as researching goes, normally, I already know something about the period before I decide to write about it. It's not that I pick the period and then research it.
PW: Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?
MH: I do not base them on people I know, and yet, I suppose every one of them is a composite of people I know. Characters have a way of just emerging. That's a very artsy thing to say, but they do. Very often, I'll be writing a book and a secondary character will inspire me to write another book. A lot of my characters have literally emerged in the writing of a different story.
PW: I understand you're an art history teacher. How does writing compare to teaching?
MH: The biggest difference is that the two activities draw on different sides of my brain. The teaching must be very structured, whereas writing is a highly intuitive process for me. I know there are writers who are very structured and methodical in their writing. I am not. I tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer.
PW: What are you working on now?
MH: I'm working on a manuscript related to the four books that are being published now. After that, we'll see. I assume that when I'm about halfway through this book, the idea for the next book will present itself.