Beneath the Covers Past

Laura Renken Interview
Review: Night Shadow

Going For the Gold
An Interview with Laura Renken
By Suzie Housley
September 2001

Multipublished author, Laura Renken aka Lori Morgan, is a romance industry Golden Heart finalist, a Maggie finalist, and a winner of the prestigious HOLT MEDALLION for her novels. She is a wordsmith, a creator of dreams, and a passionate believer in happy endings. A product of thirteen schools and twenty-two moves stretching across the United States and Europe, she is a self-proclaimed gypsy, whose passion for writing developed at an early age where she acquired an appreciation for historical intrigue. She graduated with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Oklahoma. 

Suzie Housley: What do you believe has been the highlight of your writing career so far and which aspect gives you the most enjoyment.

Laura Renken: Iíve actually had more than one highlight. First, few things in life equate to receiving  ĎThe Callí, especially if youíve spent more years than you can count pursuing that infamous Holy Grail. Then of course, reality hits and a writer realizes that to truly stay in this business you have to love the craft and continue to get better with each book written. The business is not about being published but about writing great stories. Following on the heels of receiving that call for My Lord Pirate (my first book sold) Iíd have to say placing in the 1999 Golden Heart for that book is a close second as far as euphoric highs goes. Third, is receiving the Holt Medallion for Indigo Moon. Wow. I now have something solid to add to our familyís trophy wall where my kids have dominated for years. <G>

Suzie Housley: You write books under two different names. Could you please tell us a little about each of these different voices, and how you determine which name to put on each book?

Laura Renken:When I sold Indigo Moon to Leisure, Iíd already sold My Lord Pirate to Berkley. Both release dates were very close and My Lord Pirate was a launch title for Berkley. I actually wanted to keep both publishers separate because I wrote two very different books. Lori Morgan is my western pseudonym and Laura Renken is my historical pseudonym. My voice is different for each book.

Suzie Housley: The next book in your series is Heart of the Condor, is due out in July 2002. Can you tell us a little about what to expect in the next book of the series and what other works do you have in the pipeline at the moment?

Laura Renken: Heart of the Condor concludes my West Indies Drake family saga with the sisterís story. During the course of my 17th century research, I learned so much about the social, religious and economic dynamics of that tumultuous era. Piracy came into being for many reasons during that time period, which of course had nothing to do with my first book <G> But the issues did raise questions that related to conflicts that we face today, which is why the protagonist from my third book is a royal Spaniard. He was essentially a pirate hunter. There are always two sides to every story, I wanted to bring up that other side, and it was only fitting that I ended this series with El Condorís love story: a story that plumbs the depths of a manís life-long beliefs and results in his willingness to lay down his life to do what is right, no matter the cost.

As for what I have in the pipeline after Heart of the Condor, Berkley just purchased my Highwayman story that takes place in colonial Virginia.

Suzie Housley: Why did you decide to write historical romance?

Laura Renken: I love history. I love the research. I write what I love to read and I have the imagination to build lives out of make-believe worlds.

Suzie Housley: Congratulation on your recent 2001 HOLT MEDALLION.   Could you explain to readers who are not familiar with this award what you received it for?

Laura Renken: The Virginia romance writers award the prestigious HOLT Medallion. Indigo Moon won the Medallion for Best first book of 2000. I was very honored by the award.

Suzie Housley: Do you write by outline, in sequence, or do you write different parts as inspiration moves you?

Laura Renken: Every book is different. For the most part, I write my scenes in sequence, but sometimes that sequence doesnít fit, it came to soon or not soon enough. Thatís why I love the cut and paste feature. I also write a full synopsis before each book now. Not only because Iím required to if I wish to sell on proposal, but because it helps me flesh out my characters and their conflict. Will it carry through 450 manuscript pages? My story itself rarely stays with the synopsis but the ending is usually right on track.

Suzie Housley: Your historical romances have a pretty firm grounding in events. Likewise, you create very accurate physical and social settings for your stories. How much research do you do for a particular book?

Laura Renken: I do enormous research on my time periods and what existed and what didnít. In Night Shadow I had to take out the flower poesy because I learned that flower didnít exist in 1691. My stories may all be born from the seeds of my imagination but they could have been real. I try to give my people human flaws and emotions that any one of us could feel in those circumstances. Every word I write carries an emotional thread that links the scenes and the characters. When that thread snaps or a scene doesnít feel right, I know Iíve hit a wall and I need to back track. My manuscripts for the most part are clean when I finish, only because I canít write if it doesnít feel right.

Suzie Housley: What do you think of current trends that seem to downplay or ignore the real historical background of the stories?

Laura Renken: For me this is not a problem, because my characters are solidly anchored in their world. Real world events have shaped their lives. To ignore those events is to strip my characters of their motivation and conflict, as well as the Old World historical feel. Once I can finally make it out of my 100,000 word restriction range, Iíll be one of those authors who write bigger books. I write depth now, which causes me constantly to go over word count, but so far my publisher as allowed me certain freedom to write that great historical that feels historical.

Suzie Housley: What do you think is the future of historical romances? There seems to be a lot of turmoil in the publishing industry right now. Has this effected your career? What impact do you think this instability will have on the genre?

Laura Renken: I donít believe there is any turmoil. Historicals are still selling big. New authors are bought all of the time. The difference is that the contemporary market has gotten bigger, so that while historicals seem like they are not selling, theyíve merely maintained, while the contemporary market is taking on a bigger share of writers. For me, Iíll stay historical. I have a historical voice; I love the genre, and the freedom. What I would like to see more of is variety, which is why I have stayed out of the mainstream historical regency sect. Publishers buy what is selling. At the same time, I donít want to blend in with the pack, and I certainly canít do it as well as the others can. My strengths are in action/adventure and strong plotted books.

Suzie Housley: Do you work on more than one book at a time?

Laura Renken: Are you kidding? I have only one brain and lack the inability to compartmentalize. When I get into a book, I am in those charactersí lives, I feel their emotions, and I cannot separate two different stories. I am not an author who can write proposal after proposal and not finish that book. I will finish that book. So far, Iíve been lucky and Iíve sold everything Iíve written, even though I took a lot of hits with various rejections before that moment came. Iím a firm believer in writing what you love, not writing for a trend.

Suzie Housley: You are you finishing up your third series book, Heart of the Condor, did you plan to create a series of books when you began or did the series just happen?

Laura Renken: My Lord Pirate did not begin as a series, but turned into one because the characters in that book were so strong. Five of them could probably have carried their own books. I chose to write about the central family, Talon, Marcus & Sarah. Night Shadow introduces the second family, a Spanish brother and sister. I felt like I could not tell the full story of that time period if I did not bring in a Spanish point of view. In addition, each of the Drake siblings has their own issues and their own conflicts to overcome. I think the hero in heroines in all three books belong together. The jewel of it all is that every single one of them is so different. Each book can stand alone, and the main characters from other books do not usurp the starring role. I think this series will be a popular one because it is different and passionate. Each book has had me smiling and sniffing in various places. At the end of Condor, I actually had to grab a Kleenex during my heroinís black moment. <G> Things looked pretty grim and I really didnít know how I was going to save the hero until the very last scene of that book. The answer literally fell into my lap at the last second. I ran into the same thing with Night Shadow, when my hero was in trouble and my heroine had to find a way to save him from her family. Naturally, it all worked out. 

Suzie Housley:  How can fans contact you?

Laura Renken: Please send an SASE to me at :

P.O Box 144
Channahon, IL 60410-0144

or e-mail me through my website:


NIGHT SHADOW by Laura Renken
Reviewed by  Suzie Housley
Jove Ė September 2001
ISBN: 0515131555  - Paperback
$5.35 US
Historical Romance

Laura Renken takes the high seas by storm with her latest captivating novel Night Shadow.  Readers will be held prisoner by this fast paced action packed adventure.

Pulled from a watery grave, Marcus Ryan Drake finds himself a prisoner on a doomed Spanish vessel.  A fierce storm threatens to capsize the helpless ship.  When the captain is swept overboard the owner Liandra seeks out his assistance to help bring the ship under control.  Marcus is quickly drawn to the exquisite features of the mysterious owner.  He is unaware of what deadly secrets she is keeping from him.  At what price will he have to pay in order to learn Liandraís true identity?

Maria Liandra Espinosa Y Ramirez, proud daughter to Spain, had never been reduced to begging.  When she finds herself in a life-threatening situation she reluctantly asks for help from a notorious pirate Marcus Drake.  She promises his freedom if he is able to save her ship and family from the ravaging storm, which threatens their lives.  Marcus and his swashbuckler crew is unaware she is the sister to the deadly pirate hunter El Condor.  When the truth is revealed at what cost will it mean to Marcus?

Laura Renken is one of romances finest gems.  Readers who enjoy their romances with a sea breeze, sizzling passion, and rapier-sharp dialogue will savor this masterpiece.

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