Shayla McBride (that’s me) did not think of herself as a writer as much as a very creative person on all fronts: painter of walls and canvases, hot glass artist, potter, carpenter, roofer (once), knitter (briefly), fabric artist, at one time maker of Barbie outfits, metalsmith, chef.

Even winemaker…until twelve bottles of maturing red wine exploded in my freshly-painted (by guess who?) kitchen one night. Well, so much for the back-to-the-earth, do-it-yourself, total self-sufficient lifestyle. Trader Joe’s is a helluva lot easier in the wine department.

Is there art in travel? If so, call me the Titian of Trips, the Monet of Museums, the Seurat of Sightseeing…in short, I really groove on travel, especially third-world¬† countries where the people are welcoming and the food interesting. Although no place will ever tempt me like Paris does.

I’ve lived in one of those recently-maligned countries when I was in the Peace Corps: Morocco, in a little walled town in the south, famous for its silver jewelry. One of my neighbors kept four sheep on his roof, another an 800 pound bull in his courtyard. I settled for a cricket on my porch. Most of my neighbors there were like my American neighbors here: friendly, hard-working, wanting their home secure, their family safe and their kids healthy and educated.

It was in Peace Corps where I finally began writing. My original foray was into moody short tales of love gone wrong and revenge gone right. So, so satisfying. But not for long. Existing on eye-for-an-eye alone can give you creative acid reflux. I switched to spy stories, but I’d never met a spy (Smiley, yes, and Charlie Muffin and Gabriel Allon and John Wells, but I’d only had to run for my life once if you don’t count sales at Stein Mart, and couldn’t stand to be around firearms and get woozy at the sight of blood) so what did I know? Ditto hard-boiled noir, romance with a capital R, cop procedurals, forensic anything, or hard science fiction.

I settled on space opera for a while, then time-travel fantasy. Loved what I wrote but nobody else did. Finally settled on what I mostly read: suspense. Bingo! But while I was doing that (writing in sixty-odd countries as I traveled the globe; the photo is of me at the Fire Temple outside Baku, Azerbaijan), I fell into what I thought was romance. Until, after coming in dead last (fourth out of four finalists)(ouch) for a Daphne contest, my roomie told me, “Well, no wonder, you don’t write romance at all! The love interest in a real romance doesn’t die!”¬† Duh. Thanks, Kristi.

So now I write both contemporary and historical suspense and adventure with a bit of romance mixed in because, face it, life without a hit of romance or the possibility of love isn’t much of a life at all. But as we all know, romances don’t always work out. And that’s where I am mostly when I write.

For now.