>Please welcome Anne Gracie, a fellow Berkley author, for today’s Pleasure Me With Romance guest post.
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So I’m a Dreamer…. Sue Me.
Where do your ideas come from? People ask me that all the time.
A lot of them come from dreaming — not real dreams, of the kind where old friends and teachers rise up to haunt you– the kind of half awake dreams you have just before you fall asleep, or just before you force yourself to roll out of bed. For me, they’re the times a story starts to spin.
It’s a little bit like a movie that just starts rolling in my head. I’ll have characters who just start talking. And doing stuff. And sometimes what they say will make me laugh, so then I have to force myself back into awake mode and scribble the scene down. If I don’t, I’ll forget it.
The Accidental Wedding
When Nash Renfrew wakes in the bed of lovely Maddy Woodford, he has no memory. In the days following his accident, he is charmed by her bright outlook on life, but he lives for the nights, when she joins him chastely-more or less-in her bed. When his memory returns, Nash asks for just one more night before he leaves. But it’s one night too many and it creates a scandal that leaves him no choice but to offer her marriage.
With five orphaned half-siblings in her charge, Maddy needs the security Nash offers and can’t resist the promise of passion she’s experienced in his embrace. Well born, but poverty-stricken, Maddy knows she’s not the wife he planned on, but he’s everything she’s ever dreamed of.
But will passion be enough? He’s a diplomat who knows Czars and Princes and Grand-dukes and she’s just a country girl who’s never even been to a ball.
Can their new-found love survive, or will this accidental marriage destroy her dreams and his career?
Here’s a scene and a character that came to me exactly like that. The scribbled -down version in the spiral backed exercise book is almost identical —a gift from the gods of dreamers – an unforgettable hero and a story.
And to think I used to get into trouble at school for dreaming.
“But with historical novels, isn’t it all research?” people say. “Isn’t it a drag?”
It’s true I do lots of research. It provides the background, the texture, some of the detail. But if a historical romance is doing its job, you shouldn’t even notice the history – you’ll be reading for the story, for the characters, the thrills and spills. Just like any other book. But not all research comes from books or the web.
For instance in my most recent book, THE ACCIDENTAL WEDDING some of the details come from my childhood. This, in a nutshell is the set up:
An injured man, a desperate woman…
She saves his life. He fakes amnesia…
Maddy, my heroine is well born, but poverty stricken She does what she can to make ends meet. She keeps bees. I grew up with hives in the back yard and the sharp, clean scent of beeswax at harvesting time. Like my father, Maddy grows vegetables and worries about protecting her seedlings from frosts and storms — and her chickens from foxes. She does hat makeovers, which I remember my grandmother doing, remaking her church hats to give them a new lease of life. These are all things people have done for generations.
As well as an unconscious hero landing on her doorstep and a night prowler trying to terrorize her, Maddy has young half-bothers and sisters to care for. The youngest is a little girl obsessed with fairy tales — don’t we all know children who live out their stories? I was one of them, too. Little Lucy knows exactly how to deal with a handsome, unconscious hero.
“He’s a prince,” Lucy insisted. “And he needs a princess to kiss him and then he’ll wake up.”
“That’s Sleeping Beauty, silly,” Susan told her.
“Same thing,” Lucy declared stoutly.
“No, because Sleeping Beauty is a girl and he’s a man.”
Henry joined in. “And a man can’t be a beauty.”
“Because he can’t,” Henry said. “Only ladies can be beautiful.”
Maddy smiled to herself. She disagreed. This man was wholly male, and beautiful.
Sometimes I’m inspired by other people’s dreams.
I was listening one day to the song, “When You Taught Me How to Dance” by UK singer songwriter Katie Melua (from the movie Miss Potter.) Instantly a scene came to mind.
Maddy is a girl who’s never been to a party, never danced in public, and doesn’t know how to waltz. It’s a relatively new dance, after all. So my hero, Nash, offers to teach her. They make a time, but Maddy arrives late… and finds the hero with her four year old half-sister teaching her how to dance.
The song is here – have a listen with your eyes closed, it’s so gorgeous.
Here’s a little bit of the scene:
She watched Nash Renfrew now, tall and elegant and as handsome a man as she’d ever dreamed of. He bowed gracefully to his very diminutive partner.
Lucy made a deep, wobbly curtsy, then bounced up in triumph. She gripped his hands and carefully climbed onto his feet, standing with one small foot on each large boot. Maddy swallowed.
“Ready?” Nash asked the little girl.
Lucy nodded. Tibby played the opening bars and off they danced, tall man and tiny girl standing on his feet, her little hands clinging to his in an excited death grip.
They circled, first in a very slow clump-clump-clump, clump-clump-clump, then faster and faster as Lucy became used to the rhythm and the movement. Soon they were stepping to the music, then twirling around the room.
Maddy’s eyes misted up. Lucy was so proud, so thrilled. Once, Nash swept her up in an arc through the air and she squealed with delight, then he settled her deftly back on his boots and they continued as before.
Lucy caught sight of her and shrieked gleefully, “Maddy, Maddy, look at me, I’m dancing!”
Maddy laughed and clapped and nodded, halfway to tears.
I’d love to meet some of these people who told me off as a child for dreaming too much. It’s not a waste of time — it’s a job, a proper job. LOL
Are you a day dreamer? What’s a dream you’d like to have come true?
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