I never liked studying history when I was in school. Ironically (or fatefully?), the college scholarship I was awarded required that I take one history class every semester and pass it or I would lose the money (and my college tuition). Like a good soldier, I chose a history course every semester, and grumbled about it. Sometimes I passed it by the skin of my teeth because I really didn't like reading the books, writing the essays, and memorizing those dates. The only portion of history I actually found interesting was the Civil War and that was only because I loved "Gone with the Wind."
As the years passed and I became a novelist, I wrote contemporary stories until the fateful day when I read a LaVyrle Spencer novel and was entranced. It was an historical. After reading several more Spencer books and getting encouragement from my agent, I embarked on researching and writing my first historical romance.
Folks, I was hooked!
To this day, I love writing historical romances and -- gulp! -- I love researching them! I have not only become engrossed in history, I have stumbled onto undiscovered countries in myself. I discovered that I knew a lot about farming, ranching, and cowboys, but where did I get this information that came pouring out of me? I'm a city kid!
Finally, I realized that those many, many hours of sitting before a TV watching westerns with my family had served me well. Listening to my mother and father recall their childhood on Missouri cotton farms had seeped into me, too.
I now believe that, for most of us, we must begin making history before we can actually appreciate it. Once I was in my 30s, the past was no longer boring because I actually had one! When I hit my 40s, I started wondering about my ancestors and began researching to fill in my family tree.
Now I have to make myself STOP researching and START writing a novel. The one I'm writing now is set in Guthrie, Indian Territory after the Land Run and it's all I can do to resist the urge to read more and more about that time, those brave people, and that fascinating town!
I'm glad history finally beat me into submission. I am now a devoted student of it and I'm happy to pass on what I learn in my novels.