Laura Kirkland


So, how does a left-brained, would-be math major wind up deciding to pursue a creative career in writing romances? That's a pretty good question, and if anyone has the answer, please let me know! Actually, one of the first things I learned after deciding to make a serious attempt at writing romances is that in this business, definite answers are few and far between.

Well, let's see. I grew up with a love of books and reading, thanks to my mother who read to me every night. My trips to the library were my greatest source of entertainment. When they got all the Nancy Drew books, I was in seventh heaven. I'd read each new adventure with eager anticipation, always envisioning myself as the clever heroine who solved the mystery and outwitted the bad guys.

Although I won a few essay contests in school, I never really imagined myself as a writer until I went to college. My two closest friends and I all read romances and loved to swap books and discuss "the good parts." (I'll leave it to your imagination to decide which those were.) We used to discuss stories in the college coffee shop, and were always coming up with ideas for stories. Our heroines were based on ourselves, and our heroes on whatever guy happened to be the object of our affection at that particular moment. We always said we'd write a book together, but somehow, we never seemed to get around to it. Academically, after one semester of calculus, I switched majors from math to English and took two creative writing classes. My professor observed more than once my fondness for writing "boy meets girl" stories. The romance bug had bitten.

I didn't start writing seriously until a few years later. I had a really vivid dream about two characters, and when I woke up, I had the germ of a story idea. I decided to write out some key scenes, but wasn't getting much farther than that. Then I joined the Romance Writer's listserve (RW-L) and contacted a local writer who was a member of RWA. I met her and decided to join RWA myself.

Soon after that, my husband was transferred to Vandenberg AFB, and we moved to California. I came to my first Gold Coast meeting and found myself not only joining the group but agreeing to be the new newsletter editor. I started attending meetings regularly, and it gave a real boost to my writing career. Meeting other people with the same goal of writing romance really helped put me on the right track. Setting a writing goal every month helped me keep going when I felt I wasn't accomplishing anything.

In the last two years, I've written two manuscripts. They're still in the not-quite-finished stage, but the whole story is down on paper, waiting to be polished and sent to an editor. Last summer, I attended my first RWA national conference and came away filled with new ideas and inspired to keep writing. I'm already planning my trip to the Chicago national conference this summer, and I think some editor appointments will definitely be added to the agenda this year. So although I'm not as far advanced in my writing career as I could be, I know I'm heading in the right direction.

As to what the future holds for my writing career, I have this story to tell: Several years ago I traveled to Jamaica with my college friends. A woman at the hotel was doing Tarot card readings, so I decided to satisfy my curiosity. She told me three things: first, that the guy I'd just met was not the right one for me (she was right; he turned out to be a total jerk); second, that I'd be moving to the West Coast (I'd lived my entire life in the Midwest, and couldn't imagine moving miles away from my family, but here I am, smack dab on the Central Coast); third, that I was in for a career change, involving something creative. I mentioned writing, and she nodded and said that within ten years, I'd be making enough money that I'd be able to travel and do whatever I wanted. Hey, she was right on about the first two; who am I to argue with destiny?