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Edith Layton, Author


When readers ask me where I get my characters, all I can say is that they were already there. It's true. It's also true that I have to call them into being. I believe that's the only difference between being a writer and being locked up for your own good. As to that - I hear voices in my head too. But they don't tell me what to do, they're too busy talking to each other. I have to hear them. If it was only my voice I heard, speaking in different accents and ranges, I'd write non-fiction. I hear my characters talking, and they take on a life of their own.

The point is that these people who populate my consciousness become very real to me.It's the knowing that I have invented them that keeps me what we consider sane. ...well, relatively sane. Because I confess that I've been known to fall in love with some of them, grieve for them, lose sleep over them, and hurry to get back to them each morning when I start work again. And always, when I finish a book, I am bereft. I miss my characters intensely, which is why I begin another book as soon as I can.

Plots are essential.

If you're writing a historical novel, facts are essential.

But characters are what make or break a work of fiction, and they must always come first.

I know everything about my people: their tastes in clothing, food and literature, whether they prefer dogs or cats or little caged birds. But they continually surprise me as well. If they didn't, they'd only be characters. I want people in my books.

I write for the same reasons that I read: to escape, to learn, to have an adventure - and to find joy. That may be why I both read and write in so many different eras.

So whether I travel to Regency England, or stay in present day New York, or revist the Viking, Georgian, Stuart, Tudor, Colonial or Victorian eras here and abroad, I seek the same excitement and enlightenment. I want to know and feel what life and love was like then.

I've traveled to distant libraries, and searched musty bookshops and stalls too. This isn't work for me, it's one of my greatest pleasures. To hold a book in my hands that was last held by someone who has long since gone to dust is both thrilling and humbling. It reminds me of my own mortality, and links me to the past. It also gives me hope for the future, because if I can find commonality with someone who lived so long before me, perhaps, some day, someone can pick up my words and link to me.

What I've found is that life was very different in every era, but that love and love of life is always the same.

But though I love history, I'm not a historian. I write fiction. I delight in seeking truth, but I'm not a reporter. I tell stories. Because reality can only take you so far, and I want to fly. I'll try to enlighten you, and frighten you, make you sigh, and if you cry, that's OK too. That's what I look for in a story.

Come, see what I've done so far.

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