You might not have noticed it, but I like humour. No matter how serious I try to be when writing, a little lightness always manages to creep in. It might be a joke or a sarcastic remark, but it always pops up. I’m English after all – we love sarcasm, and are experts at deploying humour to offset deep emotions. My own household wouldn’t exist without what I call kind sarcasm (it should never be mean) My children had conquered this form of wit by an early age, which if you met their father you’d find totally understandable.
I’d been toying with the idea of writing an office based romance for a long while, and in particular writing about a boss and his assistant. So, when I’d finished ‘The Summer of Us’ and left the sun drenched South of France behind, my thoughts turned towards a law firm, and a grumpy boss and his bright, quick-witted assistant.
I’m a huge fan of the old black and white comedies of the 1930’s, and in particular the ones which feature masses of sarcasm and quick repartee between the lead couple, which always highlights their deep attraction to each other. Films like ‘His Girl Friday’, ‘It Happened One Night’ and then later on TV series like ‘Moonlighting’ have always sucked me in. I remember being captivated by ‘Barefoot in the Park’ and the banter between Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. I wanted that life, not just for a young Robert Redford, but for the one liners.
I therefore knew that I wanted this sort of relationship between Gabe and Dylan, the heroes of my latest book ‘Rule Breaker’. I wanted snark and sass. I wanted a powerful man to be captivated by the wit and intelligence of someone who he really didn’t want to be attracted to. I wanted Dylan to be a strong man in his own right, who gave as good as he got, and I wanted Gabe to fall in love with this aspect of his personality. Not his looks or his body, but more importantly his brain. We always know that those celluloid couples will last the distance, because their brains are just as compatible as their bodies. We imagine them living their lives out together, every day filled with awesome banter.
Perhaps the biggest reason I love those films though, is because they give the message that love always wins through. Now, more than ever, I think we need this message, and I’m very happy to pass it on in my books … with a little bit of humour of course!
I’ve been thinking about the writing process lately and I thought that I’d share a few thoughts on the way that I write.
My writing is quite fluid. I don’t start out with a hugely detailed plan as I’ve found to my cost that this actually just makes me not want to write the book! I have a whole file of incredibly detailed plans of books that I’ve never gone back to.
Instead when I start a book I have just a loose idea of the plot and a more in depth understanding of my characters – what they look like, their backgrounds and the way that they’d react to situations etc. I also have a whiteboard on which I have written scenes that I want to see in the book. These have included scenes in past books such as the Dirty Dancing scene from ‘Keep Me’, the jogging scene from ‘Promise Me’ and the moment that Nell takes centre stage in ‘Trust Me’.
Once I start writing, things often take quite a different turn and things happen that can totally change the direction that the book was heading. This therefore means that my more detailed planning can, and does, occur while I’m in the middle of writing, as I check and check again that everything works and ties in with the other books. My Beggar’s Choice books are all standalones but they run alongside each other so everything has to dovetail. This led to a lot of hair pulling (my own) and frustration with Bram’s story as I had to make his actions in ‘Trust Me’ make sense in his own book.
I love the fact that different things can happen once I start tapping away on my laptop because it’s led to events in the books that I never foresaw. I had planned a totally different ending for Sid and Nell that didn’t include her car accident, but I needed him to really grovel and that was a step towards that. Also Bram’s wooing of Alys over Europe was never planned, and occurred as a result of my reading a travel article about Europe while I was at the dentist.
I think my musing on writing has mainly been caused by my new book. It features a character Matt who cropped up in ‘Keep Me’. Originally he was just meant to be a one line character who entered the book in an early chapter as Bram’s assistant. However, when I finished writing that chapter it was to find that he wasn’t just his assistant but was actually his best friend. After that he had a habit of cropping up in the rest of the book, to the extent that I couldn’t let him go in my head.
I spent a while day dreaming about his happy ever after and then people started to write in asking for more of him. Before I knew it his story was in my head and I couldn’t get it out, and when I realised who his happy ever after was going to be with, I started writing. Originally I planned to write a novella or just a short story for my website but as normal it grew and grew into a full story.
Matt and John’s story has been the most enjoyable book that I’ve written so far which just goes to show that plans aren’t always the best thing. I fell in love with both of the main characters and it was a wrench to set them aside when I’d finished. I hope you enjoy them. I’ll be in my office making things difficult for myself with the next book.