This author also writes under the name Francesca Shaw.I have had my nose buried in a history book - fact or fiction - for as long as I can remember, but even more important to me are the places and the objects that conjure up the past. My first attempt at historical fiction at the age of eight was three pages of improbable medieval drama set in the local castle.With a degree in geography and archaeology I love to try and 'read' the landscape and the buildings in it for clues about the past. Virtually any place can trigger ideas for plots, but I am particularly inspired by Venice, Burgundy, Mediterranean islands and the Hertfordshire and Norfolk countryside.I live in England in a village in Bedfordshire with my long-suffering husband. He is not sure whether to be flattered or alarmed to be told he is the inspiration for all my romantic heroes! Whenever possible we escape to our cottage on the North Norfolk coast where Percy, the bossy pheasant, allows us to share the garden.My resolution every time I start on a new plot is to plan it carefully, make copious notes first and write lots of drafts in a disciplined and orderly manner. What inevitably happens is that the story starts to write itself in my head until it gets completely out of control - meanwhile my study floor becomes a sea of open books, prints and maps and I am found sitting in the car at traffic lights, muttering dialogue. At that point I have to start writing, knowing full well that the hero and heroine are going to take over and sabotage all my attempts at discipline. It is, after all, their story.