Tracy Fobes writes rich historical romances with a paranormal twist for Sonnet Books, published by Pocket Books. Before turning to a career in writing, she graduated from the University of Scranton with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in mathematics and for several years worked as a computer systems analyst for the Fortune-500 conglomerate Johnson & Johnson. Born and raised in Hillsborough, New Jersey, she has made Pennsylvania her home for the last ten years. Here is her story...When we first learn to read, it's a chore. It's a matter of deciphering words and trying to understand their meaning given the context of the sentence. Reading is something you have to do, not want to do. Until, of course, you read that special book, the first one to really grab hold of you and make you fall in love. It happened to me in the fourth grade. Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series forever changed me. I solved mysteries along with Jupiter, Bob, and Pete, three boys who ran their detective agency out of a junkyard and spoke regularly to Alfred Hitchcock. Green ghosts, whispering mummies, moaning caves, screaming clocks-they haunted my nights as I hid under the covers with a flashlight and read well past the time I was supposed to be sleeping. From there I graduated to just about every kind of book you could think of. I read Stephen King, Judy Blume, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Richard Matheson, Arthur Clarke...the list was endless. At some point I decided to try a Barbara Cartland, and once again, my life changed. As I put that finished book down, I knew romance was the genre for me. Laurie McBain's Moonstruck Madness was the first long historical romance I ever read and I'll never forget it. It spurred me on to other authors such as Kathleen Woodiwiss and Clare Darcy. Romance became the staple of my reading diet, occasionally supplemented by a Dean Koontz or Tom Clancy, and still is, to this day. I've dabbled in writing from the earliest days of my childhood, always keeping a journal and making up these crazy stories to entertain my brothers and sisters. You'd think I would have made a career of journalism, but I didn't. I decided to try my hand at computer science until family obligations required me to quit my nine-to-five job. Although I left my career and steady income with a few tears, they were crocodile tears, because inside I was already gleefully planning that first novel. Several attempts later, I wrote Touch Not the Cat, a story that's been in my head for a long, long time. For me, the inspiration for a new story comes from many places: art, music, old movies, books, newspapers. Occasionally, when I'm listening to a song or looking at a painting, I feel a intuitive jolt, an unexpected click. An idea about that painting or song sets my creative impulses to bubbling. I can always tell when I'm on the right track because excitement grabs hold of me and the skin at the back of my neck tightens. The ideas that give me some sort of visceral reaction are the ones that usually end up as my stories. Stories about women and men who come together to love have always been my favorites. I must have been only 7 or 8 years old when I read my first romance, Sleeping Beauty, and I nearly wore that book out. I've been reading romance ever since. Particularly, I enjoy the happy endings inherent in romances...they leave me feeling uplifted at the end. When I began to write seriously, I knew I had to write romance. I wanted to evoke the same kinds of emotions in a reader that romance had been evoking in me for many years. I have a room in my home set aside as an office, and I've loaded it up with cheap furniture, metal filing cabinets, and bookcases overflowing with my all-time favorite novels and research books. For inspiration, I have a few candles scattered around, along with a genie's lamp (found in an antique store, but unfortunately not magical), golden bells on a silken cord, posters featuring Rob Roy: The Movie, plants, and CDs from various artists, which I occasionally play. The lighting is dim and the computer is rather slow and often cranky. It's very disorganized and completely mine, and this is where I write. Unless I'm in a rush to get something done, I write about six hours a day, in the morning and late at night. I write historical romance with a paranormal twist, and I often set them in the 1800's, either Regency or Victorian time periods. Jane Austen's works have given me a particular appreciation for the language, social customs, clothing, and humor in the Regency era. I would enjoy living in Regency times, so why not write about them? I also find the Victorian era fascinating. It was a time of great scientific achievement, giving rise to many of the traditional horror stories which have always thrilled me: Bram Stoker's Dracula, Theophile Gautier's The Romance of the Mummy, H.G. Wells' The Isle of Dr. Moreau, among others. This period is perfect for all sorts of paranormal events. The thing I like most about writing romance novels is the chance to write a happy ending, one that leaves a reader feeling good after she finishes the book. One of my first letters came from a reader in California. She'd had a really bad stretch of luck, including several visits to the hospital. Finally diagnosed with breast cancer, she was in the middle of radiation and chemotherapy treatments when she wrote to tell me how much she'd enjoyed my book Touch Not the Cat. The story took her away from the pain for a while, and her letter was the best, most touching response I could have ever wished for as a writer. Please visit my website, www.tracyfobes.com, to learn more about me, or write me at PO Box 534, Yardley, PA, 19067. I love to hear from my readers!