Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I've finished! I've finished!

I have mentioned on and off that I have been writing a romantic novel, and it is with great relief that I have finally finished it. I have been attempting to write novels for the last eight years, but between childrearing, freelancing, running marathons etc, writing always gets a back seat. So I tend to write in spurts, and my poor heroine has spent most of the last two years being left languishing all over the place - either the hero's about to her kiss her and she's standing there waiting, or he's just disappeared off on holiday without a by your leave and it's taken me six months to get back and sort them both out.

Actually, considering everything else that's been going on, I suppose two years in the telling isn't too bad. Goodness, I might be able to manage a book every six months if I had the time... OTOH, knowing me, procastinator extraordinaire that I am, if I had more time, I would probably wittle it away somehow and end up taking longer.

I set myself a rather knotty problem with this book as well. I took my inspiration from some allotments at the back of our house, and it's where my hero and heroine meet and spend most of their time. I also took inspiration from Radio 2 which I have on constantly, so a kind of recurring theme is that the radio is like a friend in the kitchen.

I started off heavily using radio references, but cut them back because as in all contemporary fiction, things date so quickly. And I nearly came very badly unstuck as my heroine was dancing to the Cruisin' tracks on Drivetime at one point (something I used to do when I was cooking the tea), and then to my consternation the wonderful Johnny Walker left and Chris Evans took over, and Cruisin' was axed. As my heroine dancing in the kitchen was a fairly pivotal moment for her making up with the hero again, I was loth to lose it. But luckily Chris Evans has come up trumps with You Choose the Tracks on Friday evenings. Phew...

Another difficulty I had was that I've always found music really inspiring and helpful in the creative process something common to lots of my writing friends. One in particular, Elizabeth Chadwick uses rock music to great effect when writing her wonderful mediaeval historical novels. (For a great explanation of how she does it go to:

I decided for this novel I wanted to use six songs to reflect the themes of each section of the book.

The first was easy. Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward. My heroine arrives in a new town, heart battered and bruised by the death of her partner in a bike accident. She thinks she can never love again, and that for her it will always be forever autumn. It was relatively easy to work in references to golden leaves/walking in the woods etc (quoting verbatim from songs is very costly and to be avoided), but getting across her sense of loss/generating the emotion the song provokes in me was much harder, and I have no idea if I have succeeded or not.

The second part is entitled Such A Winter's Day. My heroine has now met the hero and several other characters, and California Dreaming is the theme tune here. My hero is being pulled back to his past lover who has gone out to California, while being attracted to the heroine, but will it always be a winter's day for her? She meanwhile has developed a chink in her armour, and is starting to see the sunlight poking through. For the first time since I've been a writer, my characters took control at this point and insisted on kissing each other at the end of the section, which wasn't quite what I had in mind for them.

Part three is called Soak up the Sun, from a Sheryl Crowe song of the same name. The hero/heroine have a misunderstanding as he disappears off skiing without telling her, just at the point where she has decided Sheryl is right and she should lighten up. The point when they make up is when he finds her dancing to Sheryl Crowe in the kitchen. There is such a brilliant line about not having what you want, but wanting what you've got which is perfect for my heroine's tentative steps towards her new life.

Part four is based on a Texas song, Here Comes the Summer's Son, and again, it was listening to a specific line (about reconsidering before the lover takes the singer's heart, and opening a door and going through) that just naturally slotted in to what I was thinking for my heroine. She is on the verge of entrusting her fledgling new heart to the hero, and then his ex pitches up out of the blue and causes trouble. By the end of this section, the hero and heroine are at odds, as she thinks she can't trust him.

Part five - is possibly the least successful, so I may change it. This was again because my characters didn't do things the way I wanted them to. I needed a major character, who the heroine is very close to, firstly to be ill (as a means of bringing the hero and heroine back together again) and then die, but he persistently refused to die till part six! The song I've chosen is Sing by Travis. The singer talks about the love he brings meaning nothing, unless she sings. He also talks about her being so low/crying etc and it seemed to me about those times when however much you love someone, you can't help them when they are in pain. My heroine isn't quite into the height of her suffering here, so I may have to rethink it!

Part Six's theme is Fix You, a wonderful achingly haunting tune from Coldplay. My character dies here instead, and my heroine takes it as a sign that everyone she loves dies/leaves her and so she runs away from the hero, who has taken the view that life is too short and they should get married. He wants to fix her, take her pain away, but can do nothing. Until the end of course, when (using the song again) he guides her by candlelight to where he is waiting for her, and finally she can let go of her past.

It was damned hard work trying to convey the emotions I was after, and I have no idea whether or not it's worked, but at least I've done it. And now it's with my agent and I have to bite my nails till I find out if this will be another one to bite the dust or not...

Still, while I'm waiting I am thinking out the plot of my next book: about a dentist who gets sued by a Z list celebrity. (No prizes for guessing where that inspiration came from - though the suing bit I got out of listening to the Jeremy Vine show - yes, yes, I know, I am sadly obsessed with Radio 2, but I need something to keep me out of trouble).

And I have my first theme tune already: The Miracle of Love by the Eurythmics, for when my hero and heroine get it together for the first time. I have a whole scene playing out in my head, like watching a film at the moment.

Sometimes, it is so great being a writer. Even an unpublished one....

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