Thanks so much for inviting me back to play. As I’m currently mired in writing the book from Hell any excuse to kick back and ignore it completely for a few hours is much appreciated. To get myself in the mood and come up with some sort of usable topic to waffle about today, I took a quick look at recent blogs here at the playground.
And what do I find: Kate Hardy Re-Filling the Well, Nat Anderson climbing mountains, Smarty Pants talking about her motivational coconuts, good news stories for the week and Problem Child on the YouTube time-suck phenomenon (and yes, thank you PC, you time-sucked at least 10 minutes of my very valuable time with those Buffy/Spike videos!).
And straight away I’m back at square one. You guys are nothing if not completely eclectic.
So, I was going to do a very informative piece about Research and how it can become a writer’s black hole then decided that would be way too dry (hours spent Googling hot tottie while researching your latest hero not-withstanding, of course). Then I had a brief flirtation with the idea of reporting on my first ever library talk – but decided that scones and tea in Essex and questions like ‘who does your proof-reading’ probably wouldn’t engage you lot either.
All of which left me with only one option.
So, the book’s called Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition and although it’s my fourth book for Harlequin Presents, it represents a number of firsts for me.
At my editor’s insistence, Luke Devereaux was my first British hero. Prior to that I’d done three American heroes and my editor was getting a little concerned about my obsession with Steve McQueen-style Bad Boys. Had I ever thought of doing a sheik or a European billionaire, she asked me ever so casually during my first Richmond lunch (after I’d foolishly told her my sister works for the Aga Khan). Given that I knew I couldn’t do a sheik or a Greek shipping magnate I had to opt for a British lord (although I did cop out a little and do a Vegas childhood for Luke just to keep myself happy).
Luke was also my first full-on alpha hero. He’s cynical, controlled, closed off, arrogant, expects to be obeyed at all times, has a deeply sarcastic sense of humour, is frankly a bit of a sexist and on several occasions is fairly hard to like. Of course he’s also incredibly handsome, fabulous in bed, vulnerable, wounded, nurturing, deeply protective of the heroine and an excellent chef (good cooking skills in a man being one of my hero prerequisites) but believe me only his super-sexiness was coming across loud and clear as a positive at the start of the book.
PPP was also my first linked book, because my heroine Louisa DeMarco had appeared in my second book The Mile High Club (as the heroine’s best mate). As she kept butting into the story all the way through I knew as soon as I’d discovered her I’d have to write her her own story. Reckless, impulsive, drop-dead beautiful (and boy does she know it), and hugely successful in her career as a London magazine journalist, Louisa was also a hard-sell. Although she was open, warm-hearted, smart and funny, she didn’t have any obvious vulnerabilities for the reader to connect with. Not only that but my ed had already told me to steer clear of journalists because readers don’t like them (apparently). Of course, having been a journalist myself for 20 years, as soon as I heard that, making Louisa my next heroine became a no-brainer.
One thing in my favour was that I did have a cracker of an opening chapter. Luke marches into Louisa’s office in Camden North London and then goes all cave man on her and kidnaps her in front of all her workmates. She is furious with him. Three months ago they’d had a one-night stand which had left her hurt and humiliated (and sexually fulfilled for the first time in her life, blast the man). And she never wanted to see him again. So what the hell was he doing there and why? Ha, you’ll have to check out the first chapter on eharlequin to find out.
But even with that great opening hook — surprise, surprise — the book turned out to be a total bugger to write. In fact I made so many wrong turns with this story, I ended up having to re-write two-thirds of the damn thing during a week’s holiday to New York. So while hubby and sprogs were busy eating pizza and checking out the Empire State and being wowed by The Little Mermaid on Broadway, I was holed up in our hotel room hunched over a laptop (thanks a bunch Luke and Louisa, you totally ruined my holiday).
But in the end, I believe all the angst was worth it (although I’m still pretty pissed off about missing The Little Mermaid). I was incredibly proud of the book that finally emerged. And PPP topped the Waldenbooks Series Romance Best Seller list last week so I’m not the only one that thinks so (which is always good to know).
The moral of this story?
Do not under any circumstances plan a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to New York when you’re in the middle of writing a complete bugger of a book!
Thanks for reading the whole of my waffle.
So now it’s your turn to tell me about the hardest story you’ve ever had to write. Why was it so tough? Did it turn out well? Or did you have to abandon it in a drawer?Enquiring minds (and nosey parkers like moi) want to know. And as an incentive to share your pain, I’m giving away a copy of PPP to one lucky commentator.
Heidi's Website: www.heidi-rice.com
PS: Angel's winners from yesterday are kh and crystalgb. Send your snail-mail addy to email@example.com to claim your prize!