Laura Parker

Laura Parker

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
July 29, 2002

1. Who is Laura Parker?

Laura Parker is the pen name of Laura Castoro, author of 33 books, most of them historical and contemporary romances.

2. What inspired you to write the novel MISCHIEF?

Two things. I love writing about exotic places so a story about a family of adventurers who worked for the famous East India Company that imported spices and tea and coffee from the Near and Far East seemed a natural choice. Of course, where there are explorers and traders, there’s bound to be lots of intrigue. Secondly, I ran across a diary kept by the Persian Ambassador to the court of George III, just as poor George was going mad and about to be replaced by his son, the Regent. Hm, more intrigue. But how to put it all together? Why not begin in Persia and follow my characters, along with the Persian Ambassador, back to London with intrigue dogging their every step!

3. How did you come to write MISCHIEF?

I was under contract with Kensington and my editor mentioned how much she loves getting baskets from Fortnum and Mason, the English grocers. I did some research, actually wrote them and received a history of the company from them. After I read it, I had the family for my heroine!

4. How did you come up with the character Japonica?

I like to write against type, so to speak. Japonica is not a ravishingly beauty like many heroines. She isn’t even a spitfire. She thinks of herself as ordinary and overlooked by life. Even her parents feared that she would only be courted for her wealth. I wanted to prove her wrong about herself in every way possible. She longs for one great adventure and I thought I’d give it to her. As I suspected, she proved more than equal to the task!

5. How did you come up with the Hind Div/Lord Sinclair character?

I have to admit it, I’m a sucker for mysterious strangers. Tall dark and handsome ones, that is. Throw in a weakness for “The Sheik,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, “Zorro,” and “The Thief of Baghdad”…well, I rest my case. My heroine, Japonica, thought she could never attract a man. What better adventure than for her to attract the most exotic, charismatic, mysterious and dangerous man in all the Near East? The disguise and his ‘magical powers’ were fun to write. His alter ego, the tormented Lord Sinclair, had to redeem himself for his callous treatment of my heroine. He suffered to earn her love, as a good hero eventually does of the heroine.

6. How did you come about the plot for MISCHIEF?

Well, once I had my main characters and their first meeting, I had to separate them so they could meet again on more equal terms. I don’t know how my imagination works and, at this point, I don’t want to. The complications just presented themselves and I went along for the ride.

7. How did you come up with the Abbott sisters?

I needed a reason to get Japonica to England to meet Lord Sinclair. I thought they would really be good sweet little girls. But when I began to write about them, I quickly realized that without parental supervision they would have grown up untutored in the ways of manners, and ladylike conduct, and so be quite quite spoiled! Come on, any group of girls named after flowers would either have to be so sweet the readers’ teeth ached or be hooligans in fine frocks! I chose the latter. More fun to write.

8. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing 24 years. Published 22 years.

9. Is romance the only genre you write?

No. Besides both historical and contemporary romance, I’ve done westerns, a saga set in Australia, romantic suspense, straight historical fiction, and one nonfiction young-adult book called CAREERS IN COMPUTERS. Most recently I’ve ventured into mainstream women’s fiction with a book called CROSSING THE LINE.

10. How many books have you written?

MISCHIEF is #32. CROSSING THE LINE, Aug ’02 is #33. NOTORIOUS, Feb ‘03, will make it #34.

11. What message would you like readers to receive from reading MISCHIEF?

Foremost, it’s a great escape fun read! I want the reader to be entertained. After that, it always makes me feel good to see the ugly duckling become a beautiful swan. I think true love does that for every one of us.

12. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

I write in my home office. I often listen to music; classical when I write historicals and jazz or rhythm and blues when I write modern work. Sometimes, silence is golden. Occasionally, I go away to a retreat to work. Mountain Thyme, a B&B near Hot Springs, AR is a favorite spot. And Sag Harbor, NY.

13. Could you tell a little about the new book CROSSING THE LINE you have coming out this month?

Happy to do it. CROSSING came out of an article I wrote for “ESSENCE” magazine a few years ago about the problems of looking like a white person but being black. It was called “INVISIBLE SISTER.” My publisher at the time thought the article was a great jumping off place for a novel about that issue. I agreed. I checked out the marketplace and saw that there were several books out there about light-skinned black women who didn’t know how to face the problem, and books about interracial couples who didn’t know how to handle the issue. I decided to try a broader forum. What if the heroine is perfectly at ease with her situation but it is an issue for those around her? Very soon I had a plot that included an estranged sister, a white husband, a teenage daughter, widowhood, a tough job, and a man from her past who is an African American minister. The book explores with humor and insight the issues of racial identity, who gets to decide who an individual is, and how sometimes we misidentify problems that seem to be about race or color when they are really about other things. The tagline of the book is “Life’s not always black and white. Sometimes it’s the everything in between that matters.” I hope my romance fans will take the journey with me into this new realm of modern women’s fiction.

CROSSING THE LINE is written under the name LAURA CASTORO