I thought I’d write some more about my planning process for this blog as it seems to be a running theme that I can’t stick to a plan to save my life. I can already hear my husband and family laughing at that because I’m notorious for being impossible to organise. I’m like a very stubborn donkey!
I try to make and keep to plans, but then again I’ve also been trying to finish a second chance romance for the last two years while getting derailed by other books. I’m also the person who wrote a whole series based on Rule Breaker which I said adamantly was going to be a standalone! However, sometimes the best plans aren’t the original ones.
My next book out is Oz. It’s a romantic comedy about two very different men and one very dilapidated house. It’s about Silas, and if you’ve read Risk Taker you will know that he is Henry’s brother. I’d always intended for him to get his own HEA but my plan wasn’t to write it immediately.
My intention after Risk Taker was to write a completely different book and for that I needed to do some research. As such I cajoled my husband into taking a few days off to go on a research trip to Cornwall. It has to be said that I didn’t have to cajole very hard. He loves it when we do these trips, and as he’s my partner in crime and favourite person I wouldn’t want to do it without him. He’s the perfect companion in that he’s endlessly interested in everything and content to move quickly from one thing to another, but equally happy to sit quietly while I try to absorb something. He also listens very patiently while I’m talking about my characters.
We had an amazing time in Cornwall. The heatwave was still on so every day was endless blue skies. We stayed in a farmhouse on the edge of Boscastle and criss-crossed across Cornwall visiting all the places I needed for the new book. During this time my husband fell in love with Boscastle and decided he wanted to live there, and then on the next day promptly did the same with Fowey.
Eventually, by the last day we’d visited everywhere I needed to and I had a notepad bulging with notes and ideas. We sat down for breakfast and while waiting for him to finish eating I idly picked up an old National Trust guide and on the spur of the moment suggested that we visit an Elizabethan manor house that was nearby. I knew I wanted to write Silas’s story at some point and that he owned a manor house, so I figured I’d get some bits for that while we were in Cornwall.
We travelled there that morning and I immediately fell in love with the place that was to become Chi an Mor in my book. It sits at the end of narrow, shady lanes and is utterly beautiful. I find that some houses have lovely atmospheres from the beginning and this absolutely did, in that it felt serene and so welcoming. The first thing we saw as we parked was a sign announcing that the vet was treating sheep in the field next to the house and that gave me the first germ of an idea. If you’ve read Oz you’ll know which scene that ended up in.
At one point we sat down in the lavender garden in the hot sunshine and my husband told me to sit forward and look into the lavender. I was astonished to see hundreds of industrious bees working unseen. Almost immediately in my head I saw a small and feisty Londoner coming here and finding his home and I knew I needed to write that story straightaway. We did a tour of the house and to the bemusement of the guide I kept stopping to write furiously in my notepad and have whispered conversations with my husband.
I wrote the first two chapters as soon as we got back to the farmhouse, and the first scene I wrote was that of Oz coming down from London and sitting in that garden. The rest of the book followed quickly and it’s actually the easiest thing I’ve ever written.
So, if you’re reading Oz just know that Chi an Mor with its lavender garden, bees and the Kayling Lawn actually does exist, tucked away down some winding Cornish lanes. My husband and I even played a game of Kayles there, but not the way Silas and Oz did!
I’ve still got that other book to write and I’m sure I’ll get round to it, but I’m not making any plans this time.