View Full Version : The Story Behind The Story

May 22nd, 2011, 07:12 PM
Fiction writers get asked where their ideas come from all the time. For me, sometimes I'll get the seed of an idea from watching a TV show or reading another book, but by the time I've thought the idea through to the end, the story is completely different to the original source of inspiration. At other times I consciously know what elements I want to put into a book, and that's what happened with A Secret Life (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050CLM8C), my latest historical romance.

A Secret Life (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050CLM8C) is set in Elizabethan England, like many of my other books. I love this time period and I've researched it extensively over the years. Back when I had an agent and she couldn't sell my paranormal Elizabethans, she suggested I write something more commercial without paranormal. I wanted to stick with the Elizabethan period because I'd already done the research and I just flat-out loved the era.

So how to make the next book more commercial than the others? When we think of this time period we think of Shakespeare and theaters and maybe the Virgin Queen herself. At least I do. Right, so put a tick next to The Bard.

I also love strong heroines, something that's not always easy to have in an historical when women had few rights, but what if my heroine was different to other women of the time? And how could I incorporate that into a theater setting? The movie Shakespeare in Love did the wannabe-girl-actor-dressed-as-boy thing so I needed something different. I chose a theme close to my heart - writing stories. In Minerva Peabody's case, writing plays. Women playwrights were unheard of back then, in which case she would need to have a man pretend to be the playwright while she was the one who did the real work. Kind of like Remington Steele (showing my age now).

Unfortunately Minerva didn't think of that idea until the last moment and the first man to catch her eye was the one she chose to play the part. Lucky for her, he was more than willing. Unlucky for her, he has an ulterior motive, one that will destroy her dream if he is to succeed.

I set A Secret Life (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050CLM8C) in what is now known as "Shakespeare's lost years" so I could have a bit of fun with him as a secondary character without stomping all over historical accuracy. Scholars know he came to London in the late 1580's but there is no further record of him until about 1593. It's presumed he was acting during this time and writing on the side. Kind of like most writers today who need day jobs to pay the bills while pursuing their hobby of writing a book.

So a little bit of Shakespeare and Remington Steele, and a lot of research into Elizabethan theaters and several months later I had a novel I was proud of. I wrote it about three or four years ago and it didn't sell although it went up the editorial chain at one of the big NY publishing houses.

I can't wait to see how it'll go out there in the big wide world where the readers, and only the readers, get to decide what's worth reading.