Friday 30 December 2011

Happy New Year From the Edge...

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all luck and happiness for the next twelve months.

I am writing this hopefully from somewhere edgy, and the reason for that is that I have news about Honeymoon, my New Voices entry!

To quickly recap, part of my prize was a telephone evaluation of my entry by a Mills & Boon editor, and I received my call just before Christmas. I was delighted that the editor I was assigned is the same one who dealt with me throughout 2011 - she gave me revisions on my first submission and when that was eventually rejected she also dealt with a partial I'd sent her for a new story. She is lovely, able to be brutally honest without crushing your spirit, perfect for someone like me who really needs to develop the skin of a rhino.

And so my news...she has asked me to come up with three new story ideas and send them to her in January. She will then choose the one she thinks has the most potential and will work on it with me. To say I am happy about this is an understatement! I am so excited! I am also rather terrified, and filled with self-doubt. What if NV was a fluke and I just can't maintain that standard? But I know this is a fantastic opportunity and I am going to give it my all.

Where does Honeymoon come into this, I hear you ask... I asked this too, because I'd rather thrown myself into the Honeymoon story after investing so much angst and effort into it for the two weeks of NV voting. I've actually got a working draft of about 40k which I was intending to finish by Christmas then leave alone for a month or so before revising. The editor asked me to send over what I'd done if it was in a presentable enough state and she would read it. Her overriding view, however, was that she'd like to see me tackling something a bit more 'edgy and daring', and so despite requesting my draft, her suggestion is to put the Honeymoon story to one side for now and work on something new.

As a result I spent the seven days before Christmas frantically trying to revise the Honeymoon ms into something coherent and (I wish) so fabulous that putting it to one side won't be necessary. But I totally underestimated how long it would take me to polish it to that extent. In the end I only sent her the first six chapters although I was desperate to send it all. She has emailed me to say she will look at it in early January and she looks forward to my three story proposals.

So there we have it! I am so excited and can't believe all this has come about from my little NV chapter. My only concern now is whether I can be edgy enough. Wish me luck!

Monday 5 December 2011

Heroes...A Theory of Evolution

Something I read this week got me thinking about where the looks for my heroes come from. Not their characteristics - those are very much invented by me to suit my story. But the way they look physically. It occurred to me that all my heroes have a certain identifiable 'look'. As in 'those shoes are definitely Louboutins'. 'That hero is a classic 'Charlotte''. Is this true for everyone, I wonder?

All my heroes so far have had the following physical attributes: thick dark hair, chiseled cheekbones, strong jaws, great smile. And as an example I give you the physical inspiration for my current ex-rugby player hero in Honeymoon...Tony Underwood *cough, shows age*.

I'm not saying I'd never write a blond or a redhead, just that it would have to be a conscious decision to do that rather than a natural choice. And having thought about it I now realise that my idea of the perfect man has evolved over time but has nonetheless stuck to the same basic principles. So let's take a trip down memory lane. My memory, to be precise.

Current perfect man (excluding Hubby of course, who interestingly still meets all the above physical attributes). Mr Johnny Depp. Note thick dark hair, jaw, cheekbones, etc etc. Note also facial hair - I will come back to that one later.

Rewind ten years or so and my perfect man was Gabriel Byrne, specifically when he was in The Assassin. Not his best film but I just adored that he loved the heroine but would never compromise her safety by telling her.

Take off another decade and we have the school years pin-up. Michael Praed as Robin of Sherwood. I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall and was convinced I would marry him one day.

Michael's predecessor? Here's where it starts getting interesting. I was about 13. Tom Selleck as Magnum PI. And note the additional physical characteristic, kind of hard to miss. The moustache! Clearly I dropped this requirement in later years, possibly because it was out of vogue, although as noted above, Johnny Depp is definitely a reintroduction of the facial hair element.

And finally...DRUM ROLL...I give you the first public figure I can ever remember deciding was handsome. I must have been about 7 years old. David Wilkie, Olympic swimmer. And the reason I thought he was so gorgeous? Because he looked like my Dad, who had a moustache his entire life and who to me at seven (and possibly still at 38) was the perfect man.

So my perfect man has evolved over 30 years from David Wilkie to Johnny Depp. Hmmmm. Not sure what that says about me except that I have a definite specific physical taste. Can all physical preferences be traced like this? Do we find people attractive because of the colouring or build of a first boyfriend, or a father, or a teenage crush? Would all my heroes have moustaches if they were still en vogue? And will I ever write a blond, lean, athletic hero?

Watch this space...