I am peeping blearily out from the inside of the deadline cave – which seems to have become my permanent residence! – to ponder on the fact that books have personalities. At least during the writing stage.
I wish I was super-confident and full of self-belief. But I never have been, and even after ten Medicals, I still feel as scared as ever – if not more so – when I finish a book and wait in utter terror for my lovely editor's verdict. It doesn't get easier. In fact, it gets worse. For me, at least. I certainly don't take anything for granted and assume that just because I have had one ... or ten ... books accepted, that the next one is going to be a walk in the park. Sadly not! On the other hand, although the terror is horrible, it can also be a good thing. I think that if the day ever comes that I get complacent, don't care and don't keep trying to write the best book I possibly can, is the day that I should give up.
Right now I am on the final chapter of Med number eleven, the deadline is looming ever closer, and the fear that this is the one that ends up in the skip is increasing hourly. And one thing that this book has really brought home to me since the moment I sat down to write it, is that every book has its own character and personality.
It's been my experience to date that no two books are the same. I'm a pantser. And I'm character driven. Which means I set off on page one, my hero and heroine in my head and hopefully talking to me, with an idea of how it is going to end but less of an idea what is going to happen to get us there. I know the hero and heroine. I know their backstories. I know their fears, their motivations, their hopes and their dreams.
With some books, my hero, heroine and I are clearly on the same wavelength, and we set off on the exciting journey together, all heading in the same direction. But now and again, I'll come across one character who is as difficult as can be, who either goes walkabout and doesn't pay attention, or who throws a tantrum and makes life very difficult for all concerned. Annie was like that. She has appeared as a secondary character in a few books and was always lovely – a loyal friend and a terrific doctor. When the time came for her to tell her own story, (out next May and titled The Emergency Doctor Claims His Wife), she morphed into an awkward and feisty woman who really didn't want to be in the limelight and have her comfortable world turned upside down. She's happy now, of course, and glad that I nagged her into taking part, but she certainly didn't make it easy for me. Or for her hero, Nathan.
The current wip has fallen into a category all its own and one I have not encountered before. And hope I won't again, either!! From the first moment, my hero and heroine have been determined to do things their way. They are both independent, strong-minded people, who decided that the vague plans I had for their story were ridiculous and I could either bow to their wishes and go along for the ride, or I could get stuffed! They knew what they wanted, they would work things out for themselves, thank you very much, and they didn't need some half-wit author sticking her oar in and telling them what to do.
I sincerely hope that they know what they are doing – otherwise this book ending up in the skip and me being booted out of the door will turn into a reality rather than a nightmare. If only I can encourage them to the end of this last chapter ... They will get their happy-ever-after – and I will be biting my nails and worrying myself silly awaiting my editor's verdict.
And then I have to do it all over again! I have two further deadlines looming ahead for two more contracted stories, plus a host of other characters in my head who keep demanding that I hurry up and get round to them, and can't A&B nip in ahead of Y&Z because they are all ready to go. It's a wonderful problem to have, I know, but I just wish that they could all stop talking at once and/or that I could write faster!
In the meantime, I am in the lucky position of having two books out at the moment. My fifth Medical, Their Christmas Vows, was released in the UK last year in the Christmas Weddings anthology. I'm delighted to say that this anthology is now out in the shops in the US. It also contains a Modern/Presents by Carole Mortimer and a Romance by Shirley Jump, so this anthology, packed
with feel-good festive fare, warmth and emotion, will make an excellent stocking filler for all those who would like to snuggle up by the fire this Christmas.
Their Christmas Vows is a Strathlochan story that introduces paramedic Callie Grogan and flight doctor Frazer McInnes, both of whom work on the air ambulance. Callie has a difficult journey to make, not only due to her frightening brush with illness, but also because the impact of her past experiences make it hard for her to trust. She's heard about Frazer's reputation as a fun-loving Romeo and is not pleased to be assigned to his crew. Their first meeting only confirms her opinion of him. But Frazer is not as he seems. Neither is he daunted by Callie's touch-me-not façade. He's serious about his feisty, beautiful colleague and wants more than anything to make her his Christmas Bride. In Frazer, could Callie have found a man she can believe in? Can she trust him – and herself – and step towards a happy and loving future?
The second book, out in the UK in November and in Australia/New Zealand in December, is Dr Devereux's Proposal. This title is number 12 in the Brides of Penhally Bay series which has been running one book a month in Medicals this year as part of the celebrations for Mills & Boon's wonderful 100th Anniversary. It was an honour to work on this series, and to be lucky enough to write two books, numbers 8 and 12, and a big responsibility to be asked to bring this exciting series to an end. Or is this just the beginning?! A thread is left hanging, so let's hope we can return to Penhally Bay again in the not too distant future!
In Dr Devereux's Proposal, gorgeous French doctor Gabriel Devereux arrives in Penhally Bay and sweeps popular physiotherapis Lauren Nightingale off her feet. Will their passionate affair lead to a happy-ever-after, or will issues from the past and worries of the present come between them and threaten their future together? I hope you will read it and find out. Gabriel & Lauren were fabulous to work with – I wish every hero and heroine were as co-operative! – and this was one of those welcome books that was a joy to write. It was also very emotional. Penhally Bay is a very special place ... a place where hearts are made whole.
(By the way, can I just reassure you that there has been no wife-swapping in Penhally! The covers on my books, 8 and 12 in the series, are gorgeous ... but should be round the other way! Chloe, in book 8, has dark hair and Lauren, in book 12, has blonde hair!)