Rebecca York

About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  View website

Idea-Filled Week

When you tell them you’re a novelist, they ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” I say that, if you’re a novelist, ideas leap out at you from behind every tree, building, and overheard conversation.

I’m back from an idea-filled trip to my husband’s 60th Harvard reunion, where some of his fellow classmates asked me―guess what?

Angela Merkel

There were plenty of ideas floating around the oldest university in the United States. Some of them were supplied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who spoke to the annual alumni association meeting on commencement day. She gave me an idea for a short story at the beginning of her remarks, when she talked about growing up on the wrong side of the Berlin wall.

John Harvard

But there were lots of other moments for a writer to catalogue. I watched many of the graduating seniors pose with the famous statue of John Harvard. They were with their families, and I thought about what it would be like to have raised a child who was now graduating from a prestigious university. Or what it would be like to be that son or daughter. Where are they going from here? In a lecture room in Emerson Hall, I listened to a talk by Professor Theda Skocpol on how the development and organization of the Tea Party and the Anti-Trump Resistance paralleled each other. That sent me contemplating political passions and dedication. Then, on the ground floor of the building, I came face to face with a statue of one of the great thinkers of my own education—Ralph Waldo Emerson. Seeing him took me back to my American Studies classes at The George Washington University. And that led me to thinking about a good friend from GWU who recently died. I usually write happy endings. Do I want to write about loss?

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are authors who have an easy time with writing humor. I have to struggle with it. But seeing the Harvard Lampoon building put a smile on my face. Who came up with that whimsical facade? It made me think about college-age humor writers sitting around a table trying to outdo each other—which led me to speculation about the groups of writers who came up with the jokes for the TV shows of my youth.

Harvard Lampoon Building

Then there was the art museum where Norman’s reunion class enjoyed a wonderful dinner. (The first wonder was that they served us very nicely prepared fish instead of chicken.) The courtyard could have been in an ancient Roman building. Then I looked up at the huge mobile hanging above our heads and the newly-installed glass upper stories. Around the courtyard were art galleries with both modern and more traditional art. I thought about the men and women who had produced those paintings and sculptures and how writers and artists have a lot in common.

And we had a final fun surprise. After the reunion we went to a barbecue restaurant in Kendall Square. We sat near a long table where a large group of men were laughing and talking after dinner. They were all fit and good looking―romance-hero potentials. Most were informally dressed, but one was in a Navyl officer’s uniform. After dinner, we walked out in back of the Navy guy, and I asked him about the group. He said they were in town for their 25th Harvard reunion—and they were all members of the Harvard football team. No wonder they were so impressive.

Fogg Art Museum Sculpture

If I don’t get a story out of this trip, I’ll be surprised. What do you think about when you tour new places?

Sweet and Sassy Weddings FREE

Sometimes a story catches your imagination, and you can’t let it go. When I was a teenager, I saw a movie called The Naked Jungle. It’s about a tough and resourceful guy who has scratched out a plantation in the Amazon, and now he wanted a wife. Because he’d been isolated for years, he’s a virgin. He sends away for a mail-order bride, and when he finds out she’s divorced—and sexually experienced—he wants to pack her off home. But dire circumstances bring them together—and they end up in a very hot relationship.

The idea of a macho virgin hero who learns about lovemaking from a willing woman really appealed to me. I wanted to write a book with a similar theme. But how could I make that plot realistic in the twenty-first century? I decided to set it in the future and created a frontier planet that was settled by men and their sons. They haven’t seen a woman in fifteen years. Now a bride ship is coming, and the guys who have won wives in the lottery are eager but jittery.

This gave me a fun background for the story, which I called Nightfall. It’s in Sweet and Sassy Weddings, a collection featuring nine great authors. The locations and the circumstances are different in every story—with heroines ranging from a single mother to a widow to a poker-bet fiancée to a successful female attorney. But each of them celebrates love and commitment. The set is free from May 5 to 9.

To tell you a little bit more about Nightfall, the setting is a lot like a Western, and my hero is nervous about making love for the first time. As with the heroine of that old movie, his bride is experienced, but instead of resenting her knowledge, he’s eager to learn how a man and a woman please each other in bed. Yet there are a lot of bumps along the way as they try to work out their new relationship.

You can get the Sweet and Sassy Weddings collection at :

Don’t miss the chance to read these nine heartwarming stories for free.

Red Sparrow, Movie and Book

Norman and I listen to a lot of books, and I decided to try Red Sparrow, maybe because it had been made into a movie. The book turned out to be a really good spy story. The sequel, Palace of Treason, was almost as good. But I was looking at reviews of the third book, The Kremlin’s Candidate, and could see that it ended very badly. Plus there were complaints that the author rushed through it, based on his forgetting a lot of details from the first two and his changed use of language. (You can draw your own conclusions about why that might have happened.) I don’t want to read the third book, but I did want to see what happened with a Hollywood treatment of the first.

We watched it on DVD, and I thought they did a pretty good job of boiling down a long book for the big screen. (Actually, it would have been a lot better as a Netflix series where they could have developed the characters and the plot.) They took a lot of shortcuts—like starting the movie well into where the book began and combining Dominika’s sparrow training with espionage officer school. Plus Joel Edgerton was all wrong for my mental picture of the hero. He was perfect for Zero Dark Thirty. But he doesn’t look like a guy who comes from an old Southern family with money.

After we saw the movie, I started reading reviews. A lot of people hated it. One guy was going to give it three stars, until he got to see Jennifer Lawrence naked. Then his enthusiasm went up significantly.

There’s a lot of exploitive sex in the movie, plus a lot of other violence and torture. But conversely, it doesn’t have as much action as the average movie based on comic-book characters. Nor does it have impossible acrobatic feats like jumping 10 yards from one building to another or hanging from a moving helicopter.

Many people couldn’t follow the twists and turns of the plot and weren’t sure about the heroine’s motivation. I had no problem because I knew the story, although the film changed a major element in the climactic moments. A lot of people thought that the relationship between the h/h was not developed well enough. Again, I got plenty of this development in the book.

If you saw the movie—give the book a try. And if you like a great spy novel, with lots of authentic details about how the CIA operates plus a good romance, you’re in for a treat.

Did you see the movie? What did you think? What about the book?

Rebecca York’s latest romantic suspense

Use What You Know

I often use my own experiences in my books. For example, about thirty years ago, we were taking our kids to an evening dinner theater performance, driving through pouring rain. The road conditions were awful, and as we headed up a hill, something weird happened. Water got into the engine, and the car stopped on the road. There was no way to get out of the traffic lane, and unfortunately, a vehicle was barreling down the highway behind us, going much too fast for the rainy conditions. The driver slammed into us. I was wearing my seat belt. I remember flying forward and then having the belt pull me back before I flew into the windshield. I experienced the whole thing in slow motion. In other words, time slowed down so that I was able to note all the details.

I sometimes use that experience of time slowing down in danger scenes in my books. It allows me to fit in details that the character normally wouldn’t be able to notice. And the time distortion is an interesting way to make the scary situation seem more threatening.

About twenty years ago, I had another frightening experience. It was evening, and the electricity went off. We were plunged into pitch darkness, and while I was fumbling around trying to get from the den to the front hall, I misjudged the route and cut a corner too tightly. In total darkness, I pitched over the edge of the basement steps. If I’d been able to see anything, I might have caught myself on the railing. Instead, I sailed down the stairs and landed in a heap at the bottom. I was actually pretty lucky. If I had landed head first, I might have broken my neck. Instead I landed on my shoulder. I broke the bone at the top of my arm and dislocated the shoulder.

So I know that in any movie scene where someone falls down a flight of steps and is able to get up and walk away, they are fudging the injuries.

I’ve used that experience in books, both the falling part and the recovery from dislocating a shoulder and breaking a bone.

Of course, you can’t always rely on your experiences for your danger scenes. Like in Chain Reaction, which is on pre-order now and coming out March 15 My hero, Gage Darnell, is caught in an explosion at a secret lab and acquires a psychic power–the ability to move objects with his mind. Although I’ve never experienced that power, I had a lot of fun playing with his new abilities–like bending iron bars and unlocking doors.

As they say–use what you know. And if you don’t know it personally look it up. Or if it’s a paranormal ability, make up the details.

What about you? Have you had some scary experiences that have become touchstones?


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