Blind-Date Baby: Story Inspiration

I was thrilled to be asked to work on a trilogy with Jennie Adams and Melissa McClone as I knew our writing styles would work well together and, having read their books, I thought we could come up with a really great idea!

Normally, I get an idea for a story and just set to work (after sending a synposis to my editor). Because this was a joint project, the process was a little different - and a lot more collaborative. Jennie, Melissa and I weren't given an idea to work from; we just knew we needed to come up with something fun, fresh and urban. A trilogy needs a strong theme to tie the books together and each individual story needs to work on its own too. The only thing we were sure on when we started thrashing out ideas was that our heroines would probably know each other through the internet, as it seemed to be the most obvious way to connect three women living on three different continents who weren't related to each other.

Working on the over-arching idea for the trilogy, we communicated just as our heroine’s did in the books – through Instant Messaging conferences. Since we live on three different time zones, it wasn’t easy finding times when we were all simultaneously near a computer and awake. Chat times were either 6am or midnight for me, so I was yawning while I typed whichever way we did it.

It took a few goes before we came up with something that worked for both us and the editors at Harlequin Mills & Boon, but in the end was born: three stories about three women reaching a milestone in their lives and finding friendship and support through an internet dating site. The three heroines become fast friends and cheer each other on to their very different happy-ever-afters.

My heroine, Grace, has not only just turned forty, but her teenage daughter has just flown the nest and she’s on her own again for the first time in eighteen years. My editor suggested a surprise pregnancy, and I loved the idea of having an empty-nester who finds herself back at square one.

Writing this book was not easy. My first version had Grace living in urban London and Noah was a philosophy professor. I handed it in and it didn’t thrill my editors (that’s me being British and understated, by the way). They didn’t like my hero, so he had to go. Unfortunately, with a character-driven plot, if you remove one of the main characters, you pretty much have to throw out the plot too.

I salvaged about a quarter of the book, but the rest had to be rewritten – in less than two weeks! I’m not quite sure how I did it now. I wrote 5000 words a day for 10 days and I wouldn’t be lying if I said I prayed during that time, so I can’t take all the credit for the end result.

However, I loved the second version so much more than the first! Grace stayed much the same, but Noah became a sexy best-selling crime writer and I moved the action into a fictional suburb on the edge of the city. Grace’s run-of-the-mill cafĂ© became a quirky little patisserie and, once I’d thrown in a honeymoon in Paris, I knew I had the magic that had been missing from the first version. Thankfully, my editors agreed!

If you want to know a little about my hero and heroine, visit their online profiles for Grace’s is here, and Noah’s is here. You can also find out a little about my settings for the book by visiting here.

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