Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses - Story Inspiration

The WAG is a twenty-first century phenomenon - WAG standing for “wives and girlfriends”. The term initially was used to describe women attached to famous sporting figures, mainly footballers, but in recent years the definition has broadened to include the other halves of just about any man who is rich and famous.

After hearing a young girl on television one day announce that it was her sole ambition in life to become a WAG, I was saddened. When I think of all the sacrifices women have made over the last century to ensure I am treated as an equal, have the right to vote and equal pay, it’s a bit of a shame that any woman would want be defined solely in terms of who her husband is, rather than try and make her own way in life.

I wondered what sort of background would push a young girl into seeking this kind of life for herself, and what would happen if she was suddenly catapaulted out of that role. Who is Mrs WAG when she’s no longer married? How is she going to feel about herself?

This is where my heroine Louise came from. She’s not a total waste of space and has long put up with an unhappy marriage for the sake of her son, but when she realises her husband is having yet another affair, she snaps and tells him she wants a divorce. Suddenly, she’s on her own again and not quite sure what to do with her life. To make matters worse, the general public seem to think her ex can do no wrong and that somehow the fact he’s been ‘playing away’ is her fault. She’s moved into an old mansion in the countryside to start a new life and lick her wounds, determined not to let any man close enough to hurt her again.

You can understand why she freaks out when she finds a stranger messing around with plants in her greenhouse. Ben Oliver is a green-fingered single dad who knew the previous owner of the mansion and promised to look after the gardens until a new owner came along. Unfortunately, the village grapevine hadn’t been working very well and he had no idea that day had come until he was faced with the wrath of Louise. And she's a pretty formidable force when roused!

Ben has his own reasons for steering-clear of high-maintenance women. His ex-wife left him to ‘find herself’, giving him custody of their daughter. Unfortunately, all of his ex-wife's plans to 'move on' seem to involve dropping Ben in difficult situations, but he keeps a lid on his anger for the sake of their daughter. Despite unfavourable first impressions, he and Louise strike up an unlikely friendship, bonding over the struggles of being a single parent. I wanted a really steady, ordinary guy for Louise - someone who was the complete antidote to her vain ex-husband.

The closest real life man I could find to my mental picture of Ben is actor Tom Chambers, who has stared in the BBC’s Holby City. How surprised was I to see he’s one of the contestants in this season of Strictly Come Dancing? There’s something quite disconcerting about seeing your down-to-earth hero strutting his funky stuff in sequins, but hey, I love the programme, so I’m not complaining!

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