Welcome, Wendy. I’m thrilled to be interviewing a Canadian historical fiction writer, especially since your books are also mysteries. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I will soon turn 69 and have been writing for seven years. I’m a wife, mother and a retired Critical Care Registered Nurse. I have been fascinated with the 19th century since I was a child and lost myself in the works of well-known authors such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy.
Books have been an essential part of my life, and I have always been an avid reader. My love of the past continued through school. I was a history and literature geek in school with a penchant for storytelling. I have remained fascinated with the past and my love for the written word throughout my life.
When did you start writing fiction, and why?
I started writing seven years ago as I was housebound and waiting to have cataract and knee surgery. I think I had read every book in the house in a few months, and daytime TV was so dull I just started playing around with a story by putting words to paper.
Before I knew it, I had a book. I hadn’t told anyone I was writing. Finally, I asked my husband and son Eric to read it. They were hesitant at first, expecting a bodice ripper. Eric returned after several days, and I waited for him to say I was crazy. But he loved it. I thought he was nuts since Stephen King was his favourite author. A few days later, I got the same response from my husband.
Please tell us about your books. How many have you written?
I have published seven, and I am currently working on book sixteen.
I tend to draw on social and political commentary from current times and merge it within my books. My main character is quite progressive. She transcends the structure and inhibitions of her time.
My books are a series and chronological. But it isn’t necessary to read them in order.
My plots centre on a family and group of friends from various backgrounds, socially, racially and financially, though many characters are members of the beau monde (high society).
One of the things I find fascinating about you is that you do not “write what you know.” You were a registered nurse, but you do not write contemporary medical thrillers, for example. I believe your first work is peopled by smugglers and spies. Can you talk a bit about how you chose your genre(s)?
Writing contemporary medical thrillers doesn’t hold any interest for me. I guess you could say I have been there and done that. I worked in ICUs, both in Canada and California. When open-heart surgery was still relatively new, people died from AIDS before we knew what it was. Paramedics were a new concept, and trauma care was evolving rapidly. I lived it. I can’t see myself writing about it.
I chose the post-Napoleonic period for my books because I love the era. It was such an exciting time and place – it was a world aswirl in silks, seduction, and intrigue. It was a period also full of political and economic duplicity. Radical new ideas and innovation were clashing with the past’s conventional thinking. Society was changing, and people challenged class norms and their society’s fundamental values.
As a result, there was a renewed interest in the novel during the late Georgian and Victorian eras. A running theme of those books was a social commentary satirizing the nobility’s lifestyle and offering keen observations regarding the class and gender distinctions of the time.
Are you one of these people who gets up at 5 a.m. and writes for four hours?
I haven’t seen purposely seen 5 am since I retired. I write throughout the day. I am not tied to a clock or a word count.
And do you have sticky notes and charts all over your office, or do you rely largely on your brain to keep you organized?
I write on a laptop in my living room. I have extensive Excel spreadsheets to keep track of family trees, physical characteristics, societal positions, place names, pets, etc. However, I write on the fly and do not plan out my books.
What are you working on now?
The 16th book in my world of Crimes Against the Crimes is the second part of a book I am tentatively calling the American Delegation.
Where can we find your books?
I am exclusively on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: author.to/WendyBayne-on-Amazon.