When I get an idea I don’t automatically head to my computer. I’ll play with it in my head and if it sticks around, gets bigger or I develop a character out of it, I’ll write a couple of chapters and see if it gains momentum.
With my latest release, The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am was originally for the Mills and Boon market. I wrote it years ago (somewhere in the darks ages of 1990s), but today’s Misanthrope you wouldn’t recognise from yesterday’s. Back then it was called Please Don’t Fall in Love, only 55,000 words and my leading lady, Valerie, was roll-over-and-smile type of woman who’d do anything for her man.
When it was rejected, I stuck it in my drawer and forgot about it. Then, years later in a house move I discovered it and felt I could do something with it. Instead of a roll-over-and-smile woman Valerie became as hard as nails and suffered no fools… unfortunately she became wrapped up with her inner demons and allowed the ‘fools’ to run her life but with surprising consequences.
The male lead isn’t cold and ‘aloof’ as most Mills and Boon characters were back then, but cheeky and flirty. Because Valerie is such a dark character I needed that balance of fun, fun, fun!
My leading man, Lex Kendal, is rich and successful (I kept that from M and B) but he stopped being a caricature character and more of a blokey bloke: he got things wrong with women, including his daughter. He tried to be romantic with Valerie and ‘woo’ her but kept getting it so wrong.
Then, I injected my third character: Ellen. Even though she’s one of the minor characters she is the book’s glue. She introduces Valerie and Lex and she sorts them out when the relationship goes pear shape. She’s the one who also discovers something mystical about Valerie and Lex’s ‘destined to meet’ relationship.
I also added an epilogue and a prologue. They say that readers, agents and publishes don’t like these, but I’ve done something different with mine that I’ve not seen done before and I’m a little proud of it (self congratulates).
The opening epilogue is Valerie as a child and the closing prologue carries up where it left off and completely wraps up the book with a little twist.
I could say this book took thirty years to write, but I won’t. You wouldn’t recognise the old M and B book to this one, so from the moment I pulled the old MS from the drawer in the house move I say it took two years of rewrites and editing using Cornerstones and Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau for editing and advisory services.
I labelled it ‘dark chick lit’ but it’s been slow to build its audience in that genre, so now I’ve labelled it as ‘dark contemporary romance’ and slowly but surely it’s moving.