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Right Time To Write

The arduous train ride to New York City offers commuters crammed quarters and plenty of time to think; but while most travelers doze off or silently grumble about their lot in life, former Bethpage resident and current published author Bernadette Walsh uses that time and space to work on character sketches.

A corporate lawyer with plenty of responsibilities to juggle in her daily life, Walsh took a chance on herself and jumped into the novel world after years of merely talking about writing a book. And that chance has paid off, as Walsh is now the award-winning author of Gold Coast Wives, The House on Prospect and the paranormal romance series The Devlin Legacy; which includes the titles Devil’s Mountain, Devil’s Shore, Devil’s Daughter and The Devlin Witch.

“I turned 40 and I realized that it was time to stop talking about it and just start writing,” said Walsh who now lives in Huntington. “Getting my first book [Gold Coast Wives] published was an amazing thrill for me. In some ways that book is my baby. I sent it out into the world and having it accepted was an affirmation.”

But a lot of hard work went into writing that first novel before Lyrical Press offered her a contract for it. The process included rejections, rewrites, criticisms and anguish before eventual euphoria. As a lawyer, Walsh is no stranger to writing, but romance writing is, as one might guess, extremely different than legalese. In order to really capture the essence of romance and novel-writing in general, Walsh joined Long Island Romance Writers, a group that provides support to local authors.

Since that first title, Walsh has expanded her knowledge of the mechanics of romance writing thanks to a monthly critique crew. She has also delved into deeper, darker themes and dialed up the physical side of romance with her latest works.

“All of my books have some romance in there, but the early ones were not graphic physically,” said Walsh, who referred to that romance style as ‘kiss and close the door.’ “But with each book I was learning more and more. In the paranormal series, with each book the heat level got a little hotter and hotter. You always learn more with each book, but it’s more than that. You also get more comfortable expressing different things.”

And Walsh has grown quite comfortable expressing much of herself in her writing. All of Walsh’s books to date share a common theme: strong women handling what life throws at them the best they can. In her series, The Devlin Legacy, Walsh’s female protagonists take that theme to the next level.

“It’s about some very good women who do very bad things for very good reasons,” she said. “There are themes to my books, as I tend to write about heroines in their mid-life, facing some sort of crisis in their life.”

With the Devlin series, Walsh did not set out to write about the paranormal. The original book was a complex story about a schizophrenic woman who belives she is a witch; but Walsh had so much fun writing the character’s witching fantasies that she decided to go all the way and make the character a full-blown, power-wielding, hex-placing witch.

Devlin was not a traditional romance series, but it was important for Walsh to write what was interesting to her.

“I’m writing in the margins of my life,” she said, adding that her books operate under the influence of her Irish-Catholic upbringing on Long Island. “While it’s important to write something that people would want to buy, I’m spending more time with these characters than anyone else. I love what I love and if it finds a home, great. The process is the biggest thrill.”

And that process took a new turn, as Kensington Publishing Corp. recently acquired Lyrical Press paving the way for Walsh’s five titles to get the rerelease treatment. Walsh is also currently at work on her next title, Cold Spring. Beyond the written word, Walsh hosts a podcast titled “Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books,” available on her website www.bernadettewalsh.com and also on iTunes.

Walsh is a long way from her time at St. Dominic’s High School in Oyster Bay, where she admits she was not a young budding writer, waiting to blossom.

“I wouldn’t say I was one of those people scribbling in journals my whole life, but I was always a huge reader,” she said. "St. Dominic’s had great writing courses and I think they gave me a good foundation.”

That strong foundation gave Walsh a solid start, with the confidence necessary to take a chance on a novel life.

“Before I was married I had so much time to write, but I never did,” she said. “But I think I had to live a little and experience pain and loss in my own life in order to put those feelings into a character. You just know when it is the right time for you. If it’s your passion, you will find time for it.”