Thursday, 26 August 2010

Balfour Legacy, part 2.

It’s only August and there’s still a week left of the summer holidays, but today is one of those crisp, blue-sky apple scented mornings that leaves you in no doubt that autumn is sneaking up on you. Going outside before the daughters emerge from their beds I was so captivated by the dewy lushness of the garden that I felt sorry for Muffin, banged up in his hutch, and opened the door so he could lollop around. An hour later, realizing that he’s breakfasted extravagantly on the lettuces my husband planted out at the weekend I’m not sure that this was such a good idea. Muffin however, has tasted freedom as well as twenty one romaine lettuces and has no intention of giving himself up. Oh dear. Garden will look a good deal less lush tomorrow morning.

Anyway, moving away from Muffin’s Guilt and back to Emily’s Innocence - a big thank you to everyone who’s mailed so far with the answer to the question. It took a while to get my author copies, but when I did I got quite a few so I’m going to pick out ten names to send books to. If you are leaving an answer on the website, perhaps you could also leave your postal address too, to save time if yours is one of the names picked out (If you’ve already left your answer without an address don’t worry!)

It might seem a bit odd that I’m blogging about the background to this book when the plot and the characters came from an outline rather than from my own head. However, although the process of writing a book for a continuity series is very different from writing one in the ordinary run of things, it requires a HUGE amount of creative thinking to bring the characters to life and make them move naturally along the path carved out for them. I’ve said elsewhere that it feels like writing backwards. Usually I start with characters and flesh them out enough so that they themselves dictate the course of the action through their responses and choices, however, in a continuity you already know (broadly) what’s going to happen. You just have to make it work, and this means doing an awful lot of reading between the lines and thinking in the bath.

This was the first time I’ve ever created a fictional kingdom in one of my books, and it was huge fun. The only information I was given about Santosa was that it was ‘a small island principality off the coast of Brazil’, so the rest was up to me. A lovely couple of hours of cyber-tourism led me to the island of Fernando de Noronha and this became the inspiration for Santosa.

The view from exclusive Santosan restaurant,
The Purple Parrot...

...And the scene upon which Luis looks down
as he flies Emily home from the ballet on the mainland

And the beach where Luciana's birthday party was held, with 'Rico's monument'...

I’ve blogged before (over at Nalini Singh’s blog *shameless namedrop*) about the way fairy tales have a habit of working their way into my books, and the story that echoed through this one was Red Riding Hood. It appeared from nowhere on the first page of the prologue, then dissolved into thin air again, only to resurface as the sexual tension mounted. I was a bit surprised by this, as it’s not a story in which I’d ever identified any strong romantic elements (unlike Beauty and the Beast, or Cinderella – both of which have influenced previous books) but I when I came to think about it, it was the darker aspects – fears of being powerless, preyed upon, devoured – which were relevant here. I had an image in my head while I was writing – a very precisely remembered illustration from a fairy tale book I had as a child, of endless tall black trees and a slender figure in a billowing scarlet cloak running through them (I wish I could find it now), and this totally informed the build up to the love scene between Luis and Emily. I love it when that kind of random-thought thing happens and guides the writing.

The other thing that forms the backdrop of a book is the music I listen to while I'm writing. Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson (pinched from daughter #2's itunes account) was Emily's theme song, while the mighty King's of Leon's Use Somebody was Luis's. Other songs on the playlist included All Saints Pure Shores (for its beachy Santosan vibe) Tiny Dancer (for obvious reasons) and a couple of songs by a band called Dexter Freebish Kate Hardy drew my attention to a couple of years ago now. And assorted other odd things that must have made sense at the time, at a particular stage of the book but haven't been given much of an ipod airing since (Stronger anyone? Didn't think so... It's a strange business, writing.)

I think the only other thing to say about writing this book was how fab it was to be working alongside other authors - both from a fangirl point of view, but also because of the support we gave each other. I was in regular, hand-holding contact with Kate Hewitt and Carole Mortimer and Sharon Kendrick and it really did make the whole thing seem like quite an adventure. The best bit of which is now, when I get to actually read the books I got such tantalising glimpses into back then! (Am currently LOVING Sharon's book, Kat's Pride. Kat is a fantastic heroine. And as for Carlos... *fans self* Off to read more...)

Keep those competition answers coming and I'll pick out names at the weekend!


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Oh, India, what a gorgeous and gaspworthy post!

The pics are just what I needed to drag me out of rain soaked misery. I want to go there. Now! Bet it's pricey though.

The book sounds brilliant and now I've some new inspirational songs to sample as well. What a superstar you are, my darling.

Lots of love,

XX P.s bet Muffin's got a bit of a tummy ache! XX

Michelle Styles said...

I had to laugh about the exclusive restaurant the Purple Parrot...It was a really heart wwarming part of the story!

And is Muffin now asleep, having had a surfiet of lettuce a la the Flopsy Bunnies?

Sharon said...

Aw shucks, India - thanks so much for your lovely comments about Kat and Carlos. Feeling that the story has captured someone else's imagination is what makes the job worthwhile and all that angsting evaporate.

Totally agree that creating a book within a series takes a different mindset because there are lots of different influences at work. It's a bit like unpicking an intricate piece of embroidery before you can start sewing (does that sound mad?!)

Anyway, I'm just off to Italy for the weekend, to concentrate on Zahir, my sexy control-freak Sheikh-in-the-making - and to lose myself in the magic of EMILY'S INNOCENCE....

India said...

Rach darling, it looks fab doesn't it? Not sure how much it's set up for tourism in real life though. Will go and google five star hotels now!

Muffin spent the day sulking and writing letters to Amnesty International after getting banged up in his run again. Feel sorry for him, yet now see The Tale of Peter Rabbit from Mr McGregor's point of view.

Sharon, it's the greatest pleasure. Could go on at great length about the fabulousness with which you have created Kat's character (I even dug out the bible to read your outline, so I could marvel at the amazing way you've fleshed out the bones of your story!) Is a real sexy romp of a read.

Enjoy Italy (and your sheikh!)

Catherine J said...

It is one such morning where I am; my sleeping beauties are snoozing in their beds and I've just been into the garden to inhale the scent of apples on my solitary tree.

Now ... if only it were that easy to get whisked away to a remote island I'd be a happy bunny!

Emily's Innocence promises to be another fab book. Can't wait to read it.

Best wishes, Catherine

Kaz19 said...

Hi India
I have already read your gorgeous book and adored it, bravo.
Hope muffin is ok, poor thing.
Your pictures perfectly describes Luis' island, and that beach? Wow, I could just imagine the tents that Luis had put up, for their beach camp-out. (It certainly reminded me of your own camping trips and your family olympics), hope I haven't put too many spoilers in here.
Have a lovely weekend, I'm off to buy 2 new tyres for my car, after rather embarassingly having a flat front tyre in the forecourt of my local Tesco petrol garage, then having to drag my brother out of bed at a rather early hour, to help me change a wheel. Can't someone please invent a way a woman can change her own tyre? Those pesky nuts were far too tight, I then had to endure a long lecture from said brother about car maintenance. Uurggh! Don't you hate that?
xx Karen

India said...

Catherine - glad to hear you have two beauties back (and snoozing in bed, where they belong!) Sadly, the time for being whisked away this year is now pretty much over and it's back to school and back to work. Although, I don't know about you but I have a lot of apple pie to make first...

Aw Karen, I totally sympathise. Women are simply not supposed to change tyres, just like men are not supposed to understand cushions or decorate cupcakes. It's what the RAC is for, I think. But hugs on a horrible start to your day -hope you picked up some chocolate while you were in Tescos! xx

Kaz19 said...

Sure did, a galaxy caramel, that I scoffed in the car on the way home, delicious.
Hey, I needed it, after my male lecture on the merits of car maintenance.
And yes, I've had a real domesticated week off work, jam making, blackberry, and it's fabulous. He can't make jam can he?
xx Karen

India said...

Exactly, Karen. Take a jar of jam round for him as a thank you, but if any further mention is made of car maintenance, whip it back and suggests he learns to make it himself. (It sounds delicious, by the way. I must turn some of our plums and rhubarb into jam, but then I'll want to eat it - preferably on croissants. It's a slippery slope...)