Monday, 14 July 2008

Competition time!

After this morning's TV excitement, I'm back and ready to launch Day One of the competition to celebrate the release of Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure. I know you're supposed to save the best 'til last, but forget that. I'm cutting to the chase straight away, because my favourite aspect of the book is-- you guessed it-- the hero.
My adoration of Orlando Winterton has been pretty well documented here already, but the time has come at last to introduce him properly. To do that I need to go back to the beginning, and to where the whole idea for the book came from.

A few years ago I was struck down by a nasty virus called CMV which, amongst other delights, can cause long term visual problems. As a result I now have an annual field of vision check, and it was during one of these, and while I waited anxiously for the results, that the seeds of the book were sown. Thankfully, my test results were clear, but as a commited hypochondriac by then I'd already visited the scenario that they wouldn't be... that the news would be bad... and that's exactly the situation in which Orlando finds himself as the book opens. He's just been diagnosed with a degenerative sight condition called Stargardt's Macular Dystrophy. To a fighter pilot in the RAF this news spells instant professional death. To a man who is used to excelling effortlessly, to being a leader, a hero, the personal outlook is hardly more positive and Orlando's charmed, privileged life begins to unravel.

When I was writing the book I had a post-it note stuck to my computer monitor that had the words COURAGE and HEROISM written on it. (At least it started off being stuck to my monitor, but it kept falling off. One day while I was driving to pick the children up from school I found it stuck to my elbow.) These were the themes of the book, and completely contrasting ways in which Orlando and Rachel percieved these concepts provided the starting point for the conflict between them and the journeys they each had to make in order to get their happy ending.

Orlando was so lovely to write, and I fell quite ridiculously in love with him. That combination of phenomenal strength and private vulnerability is well established and hugely powerful, and provides endless romantic/heroic potential. It was a role to which lovely James D'Arcy-- on whom I've had a whopping great fangirly crush for ages-- was perfectly suited, and I joyfully embraced the opportunity to pin pictures of him all over my office and post photos here at the slightest excuse. As I'm sure you all remember...

I was very lucky in that a friend of one of my brothers is a pilot in the RAF, and he was fantastically generous with his time, providing loads of information in answer to my questions (even replying to my emails from the beachside bar when he was on holiday!) and often inadvertently informing the plot with the things that he told me. The book is dedicated to him.

Tomorrow I'll be back to talk about the woman who arrived suddenly and unexpectedly in Orlando's life, shattering his self-imposed exile and forcing him to confront things that really, he'd rather have left unconfronted. Like the fact that one glorious encounter doesn't necessarily get someone out of your system. And courage isn't simply a matter of defending your country...

Question 1: What was Orlando Winterton's profession at the start of the book?


Michelle Styles said...

Just to say that James D'Arcy is very much how I pictured Orlando and I had forgotten who exactly you had cast.

The book is lovely and wonderful and made me cry.

I am torn between whom I like more --Orlando or Rachel.

Anonymous said...

Hi, India! Orlando sounds positively perfect. Your books are always wonderful, and I can't wait to fall in love with Orlando too!


P.S. Do we answer the question here or by email? He's a fighter pilot at the beginning, correct?

Rachel said...

Ditto Michelle's comments--I blubbed too, but then you're very good at doing that to me, Mrs Grey!

Thanks for all the gorgeous background detail--I always wonder who the 'dedicatee's inside the front cover are but would never dare to ask! Thanks for sharing.

Lots of love,


India said...

Michelle, perhaps all those pictures I posted last summer of the lovely James D'Arcy subliminally influenced you when imagining Orlando (if so, my cunning plan worked!) Thanks, as ever, for your support and encouragement-- I'm such an admirer of your books that it means a huge amount.

Hello Trenda-- thank you for your kind comments, and for making such an important point! As usual, I've got so carried away in the excitement that I've forgotten to mention details like how to enter! Duh! So yes-- send in answers by email via the website, either each day or all in one go on Friday. I'll recap that in the next post! (and yes, you're absolutely right. Fighter pilot it is...)

Rachel, thank you! I always love reading the dedications in other people's books too and often wonder about their significance. In mine I've left the identity of the person deliberately vague incase his RAF colleagues find out! I imagine he'd never hear the end of it...

Anonymous said...


I was worried I had missed the directions somewhere in your blog wouldn't have been a surprise as I seem to be in a fog of late, or maybe it's just that two kids were talking to me at once when I was reading, and two kittens were sniffing the keyboard. :-)


P.S. When your book is released and I purchase it, I promise to give Orlando the attention and respect he deserves by hiding in the bath to read it. (The only place I can think straight!)