Okay, let's get the hard stuff out of the way right up front. Leigh is a man! I know men aren't supposed to write romance, but I do and I don't intend to quit. It's fun.
If you're still mad, you can blame it on my wife. I wouldn't have known what romance was if, after I got married in 1972, romances hadn't started collecting all over the house. They were everywhere I looked, in the den, on the kitchen table, in the living room, stacked along one whole wall in the bedroom, even in the bathroom. When my wife wasn't cooking or taking care of the children, she was reading a romance. I admit I was a little supercilious about her choice of reading material. After all, I was reading Dickens, Hemingway, Austen, the classics! I started calling them her "sin, lust, and passion" books. I said it so often my daughter started calling them Mommy's "celeste" passion books. I thought it was funny. My wife didn't. One day, after what I’m certain was a typically condescending remark (you have to understand I'd never read a romance, just looked at the covers and made a snap judgment), she threw a book at me and told me to read it or shut up.
Being an obedient husband (my wife's expletive deleted!), I read the book. It was Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades. I loved it. To this day it's one of my favorite books. Being thoroughly hooked, I searched new and used bookstores until I'd collected every book Georgette Heyer ever wrote. After reading them all several times, I asked my wife to suggest some other books. Since I have a minor in history, she started me on a diet of the icons of early historical romance, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small, and Johanna Lindsey. By now I was completely addicted.
Somewhere along the line, I read that women could make decent money (more than I could as a music teacher) writing historicals, so I tried to get my wife to write one. She told me she couldn't write, that I ought to write one. I said I couldn't think of a plot. This went back and forth for some time until I said if she'd give me a plot, I'd write a book. She said, "I've lost everything." It wasn't a plot, but it must have been enough. I sat down and started writing. 889 pages later, I had finished my first romance. A badly overwritten romance, but a book nonetheless.
I didn't know much about writing, and nothing at all about the romance market, so I had to write two more books and join Romance Writers of America before I knew enough to sell my first book. Wyoming Wildfire was published by Zebra in 1987. Since then I’ve written 51 more books and four novellas.
Unfortunately, after thirty-six years of marriage, my wife and I divorced. Even though it was amicable, it has been a difficult adjustment. House-hunting and moving from a home I’d occupied for twenty-seven years was no fun, but that’s behind me. My ex-wife is an excellent cook so I gave up cooking once we were married. Now I find that not only do I enjoy it, I’m good at it. In fact, I find myself standing over a simmering sauce or making soup to freeze when I should be writing. I’ve also come to a greater appreciation of what it takes to prepare tasty and interesting meals day after day, but you’re not likely to see any of that in my books. I haven’t written much about cooking since I got letters from readers after Wyoming Wildfire came out complaining that the heroine spent too much time in the kitchen.
I recently celebrated my 71st birthday so I call writing my mid-life crisis career. I have a BA in Voice and an MA in Musicology from the University of North Carolina. I taught music in schools and/or was an organist/choir director in churches for thirty-two years before retiring to write full time. I have three grown, married children who are currently occupying distant parts of these United States. I enjoy gardening and singing in both church and community choirs. I have just welcomed a beautiful grandson and an equally beautiful granddaughter into the world this year. Now if I can just live long enough to tell them stories about their parents