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I "cast" my books from the world around me. When I'm imagining a story a chance glance often nets me a Hero or a Heroine. I'd plotted The Fire-Flower and was ready to write it, when I found not only a hero, but a new heroine -- who made me change the whole book.

I was waiting for a ferry on the Isle of Wight when I saw a red-headed man. He was icy eyed and his face was really all crags and cheekbones. Perfect hero material! He was in black leather and perched on a motorcyle. A moment later, he dipped his head and brushed a kiss on the cheek of the little woman sitting on the motorcycle with him. I hadn't noticed her until then. She wasn't very noticeable -- until he kissed her. Then she blushed, ducked her head, and became incandescent. And my whole book had to change to accomodate my new heroine: Mary Monk.

I found out who the famous model who posed for the cover was. And I don't think it looks like him -- it's clearly Gideon. I dont' know how he did it, but the artist captured Gideon exactly as I saw him -- although with the leathers and the motorcycle, of course. Want to guess who the cover model was?


Our hero is a Royalist. Apart from philosophical reasons, confess - they really did dress better, didn't they? Give me a snappy dresser every time!

And I've never forgiven Cromwell for slighting so many castles - in every sense of the word. But even broken, they are beautiful and inspiring. Take a look at some of my favorites, without even having to book passage.

Come, stand at the edge of the fire with me and look at the Great London Fire. It's part of British Heritage. Just be careful not to get your hair singed!

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