Friday, July 04, 2008

Penhally Bay - writing a continuity - Margaret McDonagh

As part of the celebrations to mark Mills & Boon's centenary year, I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in the Brides of Penhally Bay continuity. This series, set in beautiful north Cornwall, is running one book a month throughout 2008 in Medical Romance and includes titles by some well-loved and respected authors. My books are numbers 8 and 12 in the series and are published in July and November.

First up for me is Virgin Midwife, Playboy Doctor out now in paperback, which tells the story of the deliciously wicked but lovely new doctor, Oliver Fawkner, and dedicated midwife Chloe MacKinnon who has dark secrets in her past. I had some threads to pick up that have run through the previous seven books, including those beautifully set up for me by Melanie Milburne whose Single Dad Seeks A Wife was book 7 and out in June.

Writing is a solitary occupation so it was a novel experience to take part in my first ever continuity series and to work closely with other Medical writers. Still being something of a newbie myself, it was a daunting prospect to face working with authors whose books I had long admired and I was very nervous. I didn't want to let anyone down. I also had no idea how a continuity series worked and it was fascinating to find out.

The editorial team worked incredibly hard to bring the whole series together, planning out how each individual book would fit in with the rest and yet stand alone, and then how the central thread running though each book would unfold as the series went on. I think they did a terrific job and thank them all for making this such a great experience and for asking me to be part of it.

The first unusual thing for me was to be given my characters and the basic plot outline rather than devising them myself. I had never worked in that way before and I did have a moment's pause, wondering if I could pull it off. But as I read through the notes and the outline, all sorts of ideas began to take shape and, more importantly, Oliver and Chloe, grew in my mind and became real to me. I loved them - especially the delicious Oliver! They were fantastic to work with and I swiftly became absorbed in them and their story. Then it was getting to grips with weaving in the continuity element into the book.

It was a challenging and enjoyable experience and I learned an awful lot doing it. I also made some good friends amongst my fellow writers who were generous and fun to work with. We exchanged ideas and thrashed out any parts that over-lapped. This especially applied to the continuity thread relating to the senior partner in the surgery, Dr Nick Tremayne, and his friend and colleague, Kate Althorp. We also had fun contributing ideas for secondary characters and villagers who would bring the whole Penhally community together and make it come alive.

I very much hope that readers will feel we have succeeded and will enjoy reading all about the folk of Penhally Bay at least as much as we loved writing about them. Oliver and Chloe in Virgin Midwife, Playboy Doctor are particularly close to my heart and I hope you will enjoy the story of how these two special people find love and happiness.

I was also lucky enough to write book 12 in the series, Dr Devereux's Proposal, which is out in November. I will come back then and introduce you to charming and sexy French doctor, Gabriel Devereux and the sparks that ignite when he and Penhally's physiotherapist, Lauren Nightingale meet!

In the meantime, enjoy this special series – we all worked so hard to make it come together and Penhally Bay become a place we would all love to visit in real life – and also enjoy the ongoing party atmosphere marking Mills & Boon's 100th year! Here's to another century of the world's favourite romance novels.



PS - Apologies for Chloe's hair transplant on the cover - she's actually a brunette!


Estella said...

Sounds like a great series!

Margaret McDonagh said...

Thanks, Estella.

Mags xx

Pat Cochran said...

Looks as though I'll have to go searching for the earlier books in this series!

Pat Cochran

Margaret McDonagh said...

I hope you find them, Pat, and enjoy them. Try or
I think The Book Depository do free worldwide delivery on many of their books.

There is a list of all 12 books in the front of each book - if that makes sense! But if you email me via my website I will be happy to send you the list - and a copy of my book.

The first book in the series is Christmas Eve Baby by Caroline Anderson.

Mags xx

Anne McAllister said...

Ah,Cornwall -- my favorite place in England. Or, NOT in England, if you consider Cornwall its own country! But anyway . . .

I'm delighted to hear you had such a great time with the continuity, Mags. Getting to know other authors better is definitely the best part of that. I found I was awful at trying to write someone else's characters and after one effort at that, said I appreciated their interest in including me, but I simply couldn't do it. So more power to you.

I'll be looking for Oliver and Chloe. They sound like fun! Thanks for telling us about the whole series.

Margaret McDonagh said...

Hi Anne,

Thanks so much for stopping by. Really interesting to hear of your own experiences with a continuity. I guess I was just very lucky that I was able to click with the characters.

So glad, too, that Cornwall brings back some happy memories for you.

Hope you had a good 4th.

Mags xx