The fabulous Penelope Friday is joining us today to tell us the Story Behind her hot regency offering, Just Another Lady, her novella from the Secret Library anthology, One Long Hot Summer. Welcome, Penelope.
So, when you’re writing a story, you start at the beginning and move through the middle until you reach the end, right?
That would probably be a sensible way to do it. In fact, I know a lot of writers who write that way. But I’m not one of them. I mean, what am I supposed to do when I don’t actually know what happens next? Wait around hoping for inspiration to strike? Tidy the house? (Actually, that would probably make for a considerably more tidy house than I currently live in!)
Instead, I write another bit of the story. A bit which I do know. And then, when I run out of inspiration for that bit, I write another bit. And another. And another. And then… well, I suppose I ‘join the dots’. Because now that I know that – say – my heroine is going to meet her hero for the first time in chapter 1, but that they’re actually a couple by chapter 3, it’s easier to work out what happened in between.
Okay, I know that sounds odd. The scary thing is how long I’ve been writing in this way, though. When I was at school, I had a tendency to approach essays in the same manner – writing the bits I knew and then joining them up. In those pre-computer times, I had to ‘guess’ how much space I would need on pieces of paper, which was sometimes interesting: I ended up with quite a few essays which had little stars on the paper and another paragraph on a separate sheet which belonged in the starred place. Believe it or not, I was actually reasonably academic and ended up with decent marks, unusual methods notwithstanding 🙂
More surprisingly still, the ‘joins’ don’t seem to show too much in my stories, either. I would challenge anyone to spot the places where my sections have been joined: as I sometimes get inspiration for bits of conversation, the join may come part way through a scene, not just at the beginning of a chapter! If you think you spot one, feel free to email me – email@example.com – and I promise to tell you truthfully if you’re right…
Regency lady Elinor has fallen on hard times. The death of her father and the entail of their house put Elinor and her mother in difficulty; and her mother’s illness has brought doctor’s bills that they cannot pay. Lucius Crozier was Elinor’s childhood friend and adversary; and there has always been a spark of attraction between the pair. Now renowned as a womaniser, he offers a marriage of convenience (for him!) in return for the payment of Elinor’s mother’s medical bills. Reluctantly, she agrees. But Lucius has made enemies of other gentlemen of the upper echelon by playing fast and loose with their mistresses, and one man is determined to take his revenge through Lucius’s new wife …
The feel of Lucius’s fingers running down her spine made Elinor want to shiver. Even though she was protected by layers of clothing, the knowledge that he was stripping her – that shortly she would be naked in his company – made every touch tingle with what Elinor had to acknowledge to herself was excitement as much as embarrassment. As he unfastened the final button, she wriggled impatiently and the dress fell in a pool at her feet. The petticoat she could divest herself; the corset, however, needed Lucius’s aid to remove. Elinor could feel his breath warm against her neck as he teasingly took his time to undo the strings. When at last it expanded around her, Elinor took what felt like the first decent breath since that morning, almost moaning her relief.
‘You looked beautiful in it,’ her husband (her husband!) murmured in her ear, ‘but even more so out of it.’
He pushed it off her shoulders, so that she stood dressed only in the light cotton shift in front of him. As he turned her to face him, Elinor was suddenly made all too aware of her semi-nude state compared to Lucius’s full dress. She could feel her nipples peaking against the cloth, almost begging for Lucius’s touch.