Day Leclaire writes for the Harlequin Romance line and lives in the midst of a maritime forest on Hatteras Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Despite the yearly storms that batter them and the frequent power outages, she finds the beautiful climate, superb fishing, and unbeatable seascape more than adequate compensation.
Being flexible and having a sense of humor also helps, she's discovered, along with a love for both the island and her craft.
Day's interest in writing started at an early age. "There were four kids in our family, the three girls all close together in age. We were home from school one winter day because we'd had a blizzard and Mom...Well, she was practically pulling her hair out in an attempt to keep us entertained.
"We'd fought our way through any number of board games, had read all the books in the house and were basically making a total nuisance of ourselves. Out of sheer desperation, Mom told me that if I didn't have any books to read, I should go write one.
"So, I did. It was a historical. A Cinderella story set in the Wild West with a wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. As I recall, those two stepsisters bore an uncanny resemblance to my own two sisters. I guess I was out of charity with them at the time!"
Those initial attempts, rooted in elementary school, continued all the way through college. "Although I'd thought about being a writer in high school, I majored in Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley. I was going to be another Jane Goodall...right up until I went camping for the first time. It forced me to reconsider a lifetime spent without the basic necessitiesoflife like running water and flush toilets."
So she dropped out to reconsider her career choices. That's when she met her future husband, Frank. "It was a whirlwind courtship. We married five months after meeting."
The two went into business together, first running a film library in Berkeley, then remodeling houses in Seattle, Washington, before opening up a produce market. "Frank is great at retail. He's a natural salesman. But I'm not.
"With a retail operation," Day says with a laugh, "you have to be nice to the customers. That's tough since I'm an introvert who'd rather hide in the employee lounge with my nose in a book. When I became pregnant with our son, Matt, I told Frank that I'd like to find another line of work. He was incredibly supportive. He asked me what I wanted to do and without even thinking I said, 'Write. I want to write Harlequin Romances.' The next day we drove into Seattle and bought our first computer." And the rest is history!
Well, not quite. "Harlequin returned my first attempt three mercifully short chapters. They said that although my writing was competent, the plot of my story was melodramatic and my characters stereotypical.
"But I took competent to mean good. That one word gave me all the encouragement I needed. The next book received an even more positive responseand a request for a revision. Although they ultimately turned that second story down, I never grew discouraged. It certainly never occurred to me to give up."
Then tragedy struck. Day's younger sister, Nancy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died the following year. "It was a very dark time," Day confesses.
"We'd recently moved into this tiny condominium outside of San Diego, California, and I didn't know a lot of people. My son, Matt, had just turned three and I spent the summer hiding in our home with the drapes drawn, playing with him. Finally my husbandout of sheer desperation told me to start writing again or go get a job at McDonald's flipping burgers.
"It worked! I sat down and wrote a slapstick romance called Jinxed. After three months of depression, I needed some comedic relief and that book provided it. It was my first Harlequin Romance and I dedicated it to Nancy."
As for the future? "I have a ton of ideas. Last time I checked my schedule I was booked several years ahead. And considering I come up with book ideas all the time...well, let's just say that I have a lot of writing ahead of me!"