Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr Dickens!

So it's Charles Dickens's 200th birthday today... And as he's one of the writers who inspired me to become a writer I celebrated in style by sending off the epilogue to Nate and Tess's story this afternoon.

After my editor's very positive feedback, I'm hoping that the news will be good when she reads the revised manuscript with the epilogue attached.

But I have to be totally honest with you and say this wasn't the easiest book to write. Accidental pregnancy stories have always fascinated me not just because of the instant ramping up of the conflict, but because of all those obvious questions which it's sometimes easier in romance (and especially the sort of lush romantic fantasy that I write) to shy away from because, well, they're not very romantic. Such as, if the heroine's accidentally pregnant, wouldn't she consider having a termination? And wouldn't the hero be likely to question whether he is the father, especially if he's only made love with this woman once, and hardly knows her? And if two people are thrown together because of an accidental pregnancy, wouldn't that make them more cautious about committing to a long-term relationship rather than less cautious? Wouldn't the shock of having a major life change like parenthood thrust upon them make them want to avoid any other emotion complications? I wanted to have my couple wrestle with those very real questions in a believable way while at the same time keeping them sympathetic, giving the romance that fun flirty edge that Riva demands  and having them eventually fall in love.

Well folks, it wasn't easy. And once I'd started writing, I realised exactly how not easy a set-up it was. Because apart from trying to give my hero and heroine that contemporary edge, I'd also given them one heck of a lot to resolve in 50K words. Not just their own unique internal conflict, but also enough external conflict to fell two much lesser mortals. Luckily for me, Nate and Tess came through in the end - after having to give me several stern talkings-to during the course of writing the book - and I'm very pleased with the story now. But I won't lie to you, I had several moments when I wanted to kill them both (not to mention the baby, to my eternal shame!).

And for all those peeps considering the 'accidental pregnancy' trope as an easy way to ramp up your couple's conflict.... All I can say is... It ain't! Now I know why Dickens never used it... Smart man.

6 comments:

Aimee Duffy said...

Lol. I love Dicken's books. And yours!

Glad you have managed to submit a story you love and I cannot wait to read it!

Having just finished the Good, the Bad and the Wild, I know it will be awesome! Thanks again for the opportunity to read it (although I would have found a way anyway!) x

Heidi Rice said...

Hey, Aimee so cool that you enjoyed GBW! And believe me it was my pleasure.

Lacey Devlin said...

LOL! I'm so glad Nate and Tess pulled through in the end. I bet they're worth it and I can't wait to read their story.

Heidi Rice said...

Lacey, I'm so glad too, but this was definitely one of those hair-pulling books... Most interesting though it was my hero Nate who changed and evolved much more during the course of writing the story, to the extent I had to go back and rewrite a lot of the beginning when I realised what he was actually like. A lesson in not jumping to conclusions about characters that's for sure.

Maria from 'gaelikaa's diary' said...

Dickens wrote in a time when sexual matters were not openly discussed, but of course you know that already. I'm re-reading portions of David Copperfield along with my daughter and it's beginning to dawn on me now - after my first reading twenty years before - that David was frustrated in his marriage to child woman Dora Spenlow. The death of Dora would make any reader weep, but it was the only way that Dickens could safely get rid of her so that DC could have a mature woman in his life (Agnes)and enjoy an adult relationship with her.

I once had a chat with someone who discovered Dickens during a jail sentence. This person had spent a lot of his formative years in the criminal world and had very little education. When he discovered Dickens, he was spellbound. Understanding that Dickens' writing was influenced by the convention of the Victorian era, he started reading between the lines. He told me that he believed that the gang of pickpockets in Oliver Twist were actually in business, selling something unspeakable. He said that Dickens couldn't have spelt it out because his book would have been shunned by respectable society otherwise. Astonishing, isn't it? How times have changed.

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