Thursday, 27 November 2008

Five things I would probably rather do than update my website

  1. Sleep with Boris Johnson.
  2. Eat jellied eels
  3. Appear on Wife Swap
  4. Be photographed standing next to Angelina Jolie, with no make-up on.
  5. Actually, pretty much anything else.

The time has come to Get Help.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth/run away to live in a little cottage in the woods with Marco Pierre White, but since finishing the last book my brain seems to have collected its coat, switched the lights off and left the building, leaving me to potter around in mindless domestic apathy. I have dusted things, and cleaned windows (Well, some of them. When it came down to it there were more than I thought, and the novelty of marvelling at the dirtiness of the water soon wore off.) I have mopped floors and made fifty zillion calories worth of stuff from the new Nigella Christmas book with various combinations of daughters who have all been off school with coughs, chest and ear infections since last week. (The novelty of marvelling at my luck that they timed this for after the deadline has not worn off, hence the uncharacteristic indulgence with icing sugar and chocolate sprinkles, playing endless games of Disney Princess Memory Game and lighting the fire in the early afternoon.)

I have also cleaned the oven.

Can you tell I need to start another book?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Seventh Book Itch. (A.K.A... there's only so many times you can use the word 'beautiful'...)

So this is my seventh book and my seventh hero, and I feel like a change.

I've been having a little look back at the six men who have gone before (and my, what fun that's been. Top of my list for post-deadline activities was cleaning the oven, but oddly enough I haven't managed to tear myself away from the computer just yet...) Raphael di Lazaro only ever existed in my head, so for the first one you'll just have to insert your own idea of tall, dark and handsome, but let's just remind ourselves of the others shall we....

(Angelo from The Italian's Captive Virgin, whose fallen angel looks were inspired by Alex Pettyfer.)

They’ve all been pretty different...

(Orlando from Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure. James D'Arcy supplied the tortured beauty for this one)

but they do have one thing in common...

(Olivier from Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure, which comes out in the UK in January. Thanks to James Franco and his lovely mouth)
and that's that they’re all...

(Alejandro from At the Argentinean Billionaire's Bidding, who was totally based on Argentine polo ace, Nacho Figueras)
absolutely gorgeous.

(Tristan, aka Henry Cavill, from the book I've just finished.)
SO... what I'm wondering is how essential that physical gorgeousness is to the Presents promise and the success of the story in the mind of the reader? Up until now I haven’t thought twice about it, because a) I'm pitifully shallow and b) I'm a total sucker for a fine pair of cheekbones, and I’ve written heroes whose effortless good looks instantly and obviously set them apart from other men. And also, I suppose, because the perfection on the surface often contrasts nicely with the darkness and damage within.

But increasingly I'm drawn to the idea of a man who is compelling, for reasons other than his physical appeal. Who makes you notice him by sheer force of personality and who exudes a kind of magnetic charisma that goes way beyond a strong jaw and a kissable mouth. Who you look at, not because he has the face of a young Adonis, but because you can’t not look, and while I know that any hero worth his stripes (ooops... another Orlando moment...) has all those qualities, I’m kind of interested in bringing them brutally to the fore by stripping away all the pretty packaging.

And so I’m thinking... maybe someone like....

Marco Pierre White. Scary. Menacing. Brilliant in his field. Easily bored. Outrageously rude. Sexy in a way you absolutely can’t deny but also can’t quite explain either.

What do you think? Will it work?

(and will it help if you remember that he used to look like this....)

Is there anyone else you can think of who attracts pretty much by personality alone? Whose sexual chemistry is loads stronger than the sum of the parts in the equation (can you tell I was rubbish at science at school?) I want a man with strength and charisma and a grown-up bad-boy attitude. I need someone rough and battered and been-around-the-block.
I think...
(Or do I just need to take a break and clean the oven?)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Letting Go

I’m finding it hard to let go of this book.

There weren’t really any revisions, but my editor agreed that the ending was crying out for an epilogue, so I had a lovely excuse to submerge myself right back into it and wallow with delicious self-indulgence in my favourite part of writing (ie. the end). The playlist I’ve had while I’ve been working on this one has been absolutely cracking, so it’s been on at full volume while I’ve been sitting at my computer with a box of tissues, sending Tristan and Lily off into the sunset to get on with their life together.

I fell for Tristan in a big way, and I’m quite sure if I found myself standing a couple of feet away from Henry Cavill again now and he smiled his beautiful smile at me I would be utterly incapable of the restraint I showed in the same situation back in June. Not since lovely Orlando Winterton have I lost my heart so thoroughly to a hero...

(Talking of whom, I had a lovely Orlando moment this week when, collapsing in front of the TV with a glass of credit-crunch cava to celebrate the end of the book (again), I came face to face with delicious James D’Arcy— in military uniform. It was a drama series called The Commander, I think, but obviously I’m a little sketchy on the plot details since I was far too busy gazing lustfully at the striped epaulettes on those broad shoulders. Hell-o Orlando!)

Anyway, as another hero gets his girl it’s time to unpin the pictures from above my computer and change my screensaver to a new man, and for this I need your help...

Back tomorrow for a little opinion poll!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Slice. Of. Heaven.

Several days after returning home am just about emerging from semi-comatose, blissed-out state engendered by a long weekend in an idyllic cottage in the Middle Of Nowhere.

We were surrounded by acres of woodland, which at this time of year was so beautiful that even daughter #1 needed no encouragement to get out of bed before midday and walk through it, and pretty much for 3 days we didn't see another living soul...

(cottage in there somewhere...)
Happily my unspeakably lovely editor had put her seal of approval on Tristan and Lily’s story before we left, so it was gorgeous to be able to leave behind all the skull-grinding stress of the past few deadline-driven weeks and spend the days exploring and the evenings soaking in the bath with wine, roasted chestnuts and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (sadly not in the literal form of Sean Bean), packed at the last minute specifically for its perfect bonfire-infused autumn woodland vibe. The only downside of this stroke of inspiration was that I spent most of our woodland walks not looking out for fascinating flora and fauna, but dreaming about Mellors appearing from behind a tree.
The Big Birthday began with a picnic breakfast in the forest at the time that we would usually be gathering up bits of homework, ironing uniform and braving the school run, and we ate warm almond croissants and drank cold champagne (well, He and I did, and daughter #1 asked...) in a silent cathedral of autumn colour and talked longingly about giving everything up for a life of rustic simplicity...
(But one which also involves such things as almond croissants and champagne. Obviously.) (And broadband connection.) (And, as I haven't seen the new Daniel Bond film, trips to the cinema. Anyone else seen it yet?)