Thursday, 14 February 2008

Story ideas - English Lord, Ordinary Lady

After all the glitz and glamour of last week, life has returned to normal. In other words, I am devoid of make-up, in my jogging bottoms and drinking too much coffee. And it’s high time that normal service resumed here too. So, I’m going to blog about the ideas and inspiration behind English Lord, Ordinary Lady, as promised.

I always love it when other authors do this kind of thing – but normally after I read the book. I like to see if the way the author sees the hero and heroine match up to the pictures I had in my head. I like to see pictures of the real-life locations that sometimes become so real to me. And I love finding out where the spark of inspiration, where that first idea, came from.

So, just in case you didn’t pop on by to Liz Fielding’s blog the other week, I’m going to repeat what I said there about the ideas that came together to produce English Lord, Ordinary Lady. I find it’s often not just one idea, but two or three that manage to slot together that show me the story has legs, so to speak. This time round it was: pink hair, a tearoom in a stately home and Penshurst Place.

The initial inspiration for English Lord, Ordinary Lady came from a secondary character in my first book, Blind-Date Marriage. The heroine’s best friend was a rule-breaking, pink-haired dynamo called Cassie, and I so badly wanted to give her a story of her own, even if it meant killing off her vicar husband and leaving her pregnant and homeless (aren’t I wicked!). I even had a hero all set up and a great idea for an ending, but…I just couldn’t get the timelines to fit with the past I had given Cassie in Blind-Date Marriage.

So, in the end, I decided to take the ‘spirit of Cassie’ and create a new heroine – one whose history I could manufacture to fit my story – and, hey presto, Josie popped into being. Her hair was just as pink as Cassie’s, her take on life just as unconventional, but she turned out to be younger, feistier and naughtier than I could ever imagine! I also kept the same ending I’d dreamed up for Cassie. In fact, the whole of English Lord, Ordinary Lady was written, and Will’s character created, just to let that ending make sense. I’m not going to give anything away, but let’s just say that it’s the bit where Will decides to keep everything under his hat (wink, wink).

It just so happens that I have relatives that run a tea room at a stately home. What a great way to bring an ordinary girl into the path of a stuffy, needing-to-be-shaken-up English lord, I thought. But then the ‘what if’ fairies went to work on my idea. What if, instead of being a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks, struggling to make good, Josie was actually from a family just as privileged as Will’s? What if she’d turned her back on that life? Suddenly, Josie became an upper class party-girl seeking to straighten herself out – and I knew I had a story that I was itching to write. But it turned out that I could take the it-girl out of the party circuit, but I couldn’t take that special something – the ‘it’ – out of the girl. And, despite himself, Will noticed it too. And that’s when all his troubles began, poor man…

Come back soon to find out more about my hero and heroine!


Jessica Raymond said...

I finished ELOL the other week and I really enjoyed it. Josie was such a lovely, well-rounded character and I loved her interactions with Hattie. I always pictured her as Kate Winslet! I think it was because Kate W had pink hair in one of her films.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona and Jessica,

Fiona said: 'The heroine’s best friend was a rule-breaking, pink-haired dynamo called Cassie'.

I love her already. Looking forward to reading this book.


Kate said...

Hi Fiona, it's great to read how you came up with the storyline of your book. Can't wait to read more! Also, I just finished Her Parenthood Assignment and loved it. Luke is gorgeous! Cheers, Katie

Fiona Harper said...

Thanks, guys!

Kate, so glad you enjoyed Luke and Gaby's story! Thanks for letting me know.