Shirley Kennedy wrote and published Regency romances for several years for both Ballantine and Signet. She switched genres to write a wagon train romance. When struck with what she called “a great idea” about a haunted casino in Las Vegas, she was compelled to abandon both Regency England and the Old West to write Deadly Gamble.
Born and raised in Fresno, California, Shirley has lived in such diverse places as Denver; Houston; Torrance, California; Bogota ,Colombia; and Calgary, Alberta, Canada where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Sciences at the University of Calgary. She worked as a computer programmer/systems analyst for several years before she went back to her first love, writing.
Shirley lives close to her two daughters in Las Vegas Nevada. Brutus and Sparky, her two editorial assistants on the furry side, love to nap in the sunshine next to her computer while she produces her next novel.
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Sue Grafton writes female P.I. mysteries. Tom Clancy writes techno-thrillers. They, like most successful writers, have found their so-called niche in the writing world. Wisely, they stick to it.
After eight Regency romances and one wagon train saga, my niche was definitely historicals. Then the plot for Deadly Gamble popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. A haunted casino in Las Vegas—skeptical heroine in very big trouble—deadly séance—gruesome death of a porn star—unguessable twist in the plot. How could I resist? I broke the unwritten rule and switched genres.
There were challenges. From the elegant high society of Regency England, fast forward 200 years to the glitzy informality of a Las Vegas casino. Fashions—manners—morals—society itself—everything’s different. In 1813, find a husband topped every single young lady’s “things to do” list. If she didn’t, she’d end up a disgraced old spinster, dependent upon relatives for support. That’s not to say marriage isn’t important in 2013, but let’s face it, not so much. In Deadly Gamble, Kristi just got out of a bad marriage. She’s much more interested in climbing the corporate ladder than finding another man—at least for now—and has far more important problems to deal with.
One thing for sure, I had to be just as accurate with my contemporary story as with my historicals. Even though my imagination ran wild in Deadly Gamble with such things as ghostly voices, powerful spells, etc., there were some areas where I couldn’t just make it up. Before I wrote my first disaster scene, I had to determine if there was such a thing as a deadly escalator accident. Searching the Internet, I was amazed at how many accidents there have been, many of them fatal mishaps with causes ranging from “suddenly reversed direction” to “the victims fell into the gaping hole.” Old newspaper accounts told me exactly how and why the accident happened—very handy indeed for writing my descriptions.
The same with my fatal waterbed scene. First, I had to find out if anyone had actually been killed in a waterbed. Again, an Internet search told me yes, it has happened more than once, and from various causes, one of which I used in the book.
Now that Deadly Gamble is done, I’m faced with a dilemma. Shall I travel those 200 years back in time and write another Regency? Or should I write another Las Vegas contemporary? Researching would be easy. I live in Las Vegas, less than five miles from those famous hotel/casinos on The Strip. And I’ve already got an idea for another “haunted” casino. Hmm…looks like my next Regency heroine will have to wait a while before I bring her to life.
Heartbreak Trail, Camel Press
Three Wishes for Miss Winthrop, Signet
Lady Flora's Fantasy, Signet
The Irish Upstart, Signet
The Selfless Sister, Signet
The Rebellious Twin, Signet
The London Belle, Signet
Lady Semple's Secret, Ballantine