This was originally written as part of my promotional materials that I brought to the 2004 Romance Writers of America Conference.
Haley Hughes still remembers the first romance novel she read. It was the early '80s, she was in sixth grade, and she was into historical fiction, Indians and horses.
One day when she was looking for a new book to read, she found an historical novel with an Indian on the cover. Perfect.
She had no idea what "Defiant Ecstasy" meant, she just knew she was hooked.
Scores of books and a couple years later, this love affair with historical romance turned into a new career goal: She would become a romance writer.
So she drafted a few first chapters using an old typewriter. The first was set on the American frontier, the second in Scotland. Then Haley ran into a problem: She was only 13, she had no idea where to start the historical research, and she couldn't conceive of the perfect heroes for her heroines. So she packed away the chapters and pursued a career in journalism.
A decade later, while Haley was working as a reporter at a community newspaper, she covered the Romance Writers of America conference in Chicago. That conference was a reawakening that rekindled Haley's desire to write romance.
Time passed, Haley became engaged to her high-school sweetheart, Dave, and continued to be busy in her journalism career. She joined RWA and started plotting a novel. It would be a time-travel, the heroine would be a reporter, and there would be horses and Indians in the story.
But Haley's life persisted with all its pleasant distractions. She married Dave, switched fields to technical writing, and adopted a puppy.
But that romance novel never left her; it turned into her first manuscript "Prairie Fire," set on the 1832 American frontier, and the start of her second manuscript, "Witch's Fire," set in 16th century Scotland.
Hmmm. Books set on the American frontier and in Scotland?
It seems that 20 years after she discovered romance novels, she's figured out the historical research and she finally can conceive of the perfect heroes for her heroines. Those books she started writing while in junior high school never really left her.