Saturday, December 14, 2013

Writers supporting Writers!

My thanks to the lovely ALISON STUART for inviting me to participate in Writers Supporting Writers. (Check out Alison's great cover reveal on her blog!) I am to answer four questions about my writing process, and as an author I'm always happy to oblige. 


1) What am I working on?

After the release this month of TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY Book two of the Mayfair Spies Series, I am writing the third:  WHAT A RAKE WANTS  (Cover reveal coming soon!) 
The first book in the series was A BARON HER HER BED.

The rakish Irish diplomat, Flynn, Lord Montsimon, is private investigator to the soon to be crowned, King, George IV. Alerted to a possible plot brewing against the Crown, Flynn must act. Unfortunately, his plans go awry when Althea, Lady Brookwood, the lady he planned to seduce, unwittingly becomes embroiled with the plotters.

Widowed when her brutal husband is killed in a duel, Althea is determined never to marry again. But circumstances arise which may force her to do so. Montsimon is among the men who have pursued her for an affair. She has refused them all and several offers of marriage. She dislikes most men and rakes, well they deserve all they get! If marriage is the last resort she has, Althea will entertain at her husband's side and warm his bed, but he will never have her love.

 Here's an unedited taste:

Althea Brookwood sat with her Aunt Catherine while the musicians enjoyed a break. Mrs. Maxwell’s ball, always a favorite, was in full swing.

“It has been two years since Brookwood died.”

“Yes, Aunt.”

Aunt Catherine’s conversation had changed little from the last time she saw her. Her aunt compressed her lips. “You should marry again.”

Her answer remained the same also. “I have no wish to.”

Aunt Catherine eyed her through her lorgnette. “I know Brookwood was a devil. I heard the rumors. I thought it was good riddance when he died in that duel.”

Althea shivered. Aunt Catherine didn’t know the half of it. Brookwood’s obvious dissatisfaction with her had been a torment from the very beginning. Now she was free, and determined to stay that way. No man would ever hold sway over her again, bending her to his will. She smiled at her aunt. “I know you care about me, Aunt, and I’m very grateful.”

“Did Brookwood leave you well provided for?”

“My income allows me to live comfortably.” If she was careful. She had learned thrift living with a parsimonious husband.

The elderly lady touched the brilliants at her throat. “You know the bulk of my estates were entailed, but you will inherit the rest. I’d like to know to whom I’m leaving my money, before I die. Not another bounder like Brookwood.”

Althea leaned across and kissed her aunt’s soft cheek. “Have no fear. I shan’t make that mistake. I had no say in my marriage to Brookwood. Father arranged it.” The possibility of being at the mercy of another like him made her stomach flip over.

 “Lord Ingleby has recently been widowed. He’s shown a considerable interest in you and he’s plump in the pocket.” Undaunted, her aunt continued, “Won’t be after my money.”

Another man with more than a touch of violence about him. It was in his eyes and the tight way he held himself. Althea recognized the signs and suppressed a shiver. “I don’t find him attractive.”

“Attractive? That’s of little importance. We are talking about a husband, not a lover.”

Her aunt’s husband had died some years ago. A generous, quiet man, a good deal older than Catherine. She studied her aunt, whom she was said to favor. Catherine was still arresting in a Gros de Naples gown of deep violet, the color of her eyes, which had not dimmed. Might she have taken a lover at some point? Althea dismissed the idea immediately. There had never been a whiff of scandal attached to her.

“You can’t say that Irishman, Montsimon, isn’t attractive,” Aunt Catherine said with a nod of her head.

Althea turned to see his lordship’s sleek head above the crowd. He was part of the Regent’s fast set. “Yes, he is, and a rake.”

“Some woman will tame him. Rakes make the best husbands once they settle down.”

If they settle down.” She didn’t tell her aunt that Montsimon had attempted to woo her into his bed. Since she had been widowed, many men pursued her. Widows were seen as fair game. Men assumed she was dying of frustration! She supposed she was an oddity. Younger widows often remarried after a year of mourning. Others found suitable arrangements outside marriage. She curled her fingers tightly into her palm. After her marriage ended as brutally as it began, she had wished for neither. 

Her aunt’s bright violet eyes fastened on hers. “See the way Montsimon looks at you. If you play your cards right, you’ll be the one to tame him, my dear. Well worth the effort, I’ll wager.”

“How do you suggest I do that?” she asked, surprised and curious despite herself.

“You take him into your bed. Eventually. But first, you play him like a salmon on a hook. You never promise what you won’t deliver, mind. That would not be sporting.” Her aunt fluttered her fan as if the thought made her too warm. “At first let him get to know you. Let him begin to want more from you than merely someone to warm his bed. When he can’t live without you, then….”

Althea gasped. Perhaps she’d misjudged her relative. “Aunt…”

Her aunt laughed. “You’re surprised?”

“I knew you to be wise and somewhat shrewd, but I never suspected you capable of such….” She fell silent.

Snapping her fan shut, her aunt nodded with a wink. “I’m as crafty as a fox, my dear. And you are my niece, just as intelligent and smart yourself.” She gazed over Althea’s shoulder. “The prey advances. No doubt to ask you to dance. I would advise you not to shun him.”



2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?


I have learned the craft of writing by reading many great authors over the years, the Classics during my years at university and the great romance writers like Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, and Eloisa James. Adding my own life experiences and personality (I'm a Scorpio - we are dramatic, passionate, and make great detectives!) into the mix, makes for a fairly individual style I suppose. 


3)  Why do I write what I do?


I write what I would enjoy reading. I read historical and contemporary crime, mysteries and romantic suspense. I prefer a bit of romance in the books I read, so I quite naturally gravitated to writing romance.

 I particularly love the Regency and Victorian eras. The gowns, the architecture, food, culture and mores appeal to me. And the way in which my heroines deal with the restrictions society places on them.

My tastes were forged by my mother who was an artist. I grew up reading art history and learning to appreciate good art and it has influenced quite a few of the stories I've written.

 I like to write about houses too, those fabulous grand estates and what they mean to the men who inherit them. But there's a much more modest home in What a Rake Wants. Althea's country home, Owl Manor has an important place in the story.  


4) How does my writing process work? 


I began as a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants author. But I have changed that somewhat - there's a danger that you can paint yourself into a corner and fixing it can take a lot of rewriting. I now prefer to edit each scene as I go and roughly work out the next one before I write it. That helps me become very familiar with my characters by the end of the first draft. But it remains an organic process. New sub-plots and characters appear like magic, and I prefer not to know what happens next. But I always have a rough idea of how the story will end. 



Alison Stuart said...

It's interesting that the evolution of your writing has meant that as a "pantser" you do need to develop a discipline around some basic plotting (and I'm finding this too. As you say too many dead ends!

Maggi Andersen said...

Writing mysteries and spy plots definitely, Alison. A straight romance might lend itself better to panstering.