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Most writing requires research, and historical fiction is especially demanding because it means scouring libraries, the internet, old letters, journals and diaries and, on occasion, visiting cemeteries and even ghost towns. It’s often an exhausting process, but the reward is inspiration for plot, characterization and location, the exhilaration of visiting places where the story will play out and immersion into the same milieu as my characters. Not only does “walking the walk” help create both protagonists and antagonists; it can also steer the plot in unexpected -and challenging- directions. This was certainly the case with my latest book Communion of Sinners. Inspired by Life in a California Mission, the 1786 journal of Jean Françoise de la Perousé, it’s...

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