THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE was a very tough book to write. Okay, they're all tough, but this one was different. I was terrified of it, I did everything I could to put off the evil moment when I had to write "Chapter One"...
So why did I do it?
How long have you got?
From the first moment she wheeled herself across the page as a minor character in A Wife on Paper, Matty Lang was giving me trouble. She flirted with the hero, she duffed up the bad guys, she demanded attention. The only way I could get her to behave, stay in the background, was to promise her a story of her own. There was just one problem with that. Matty Lang is in a wheelchair and since I don’t write fairy stories (well, not the kind with magic wands, anyway) any happy ending had to encompass that.
Worse, it was going to be seriously Hard Work. It would involve research (which is not my favourite thing) and an intensity of emotional input that I knew would drain me dry. Matty, however, was not the kind of character to let some whining author stand in her way and finally, over lunch with my editor, I tentatively broached the idea. I’ll be honest, here; I was hoping that my ed would veto it, say, “This is not for us…” Rescue me so that I could go back to Matty with a clear conscience, say, “I’d do it in a heartbeat, honestly. It’s her fault…”
No such luck. My editor said, “Go for it, Liz.”
I prevaricated (writers are good at that) and wrote A Family of His Own. Emotional, true, but there wasn’t a wheel-chair in sight. It won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romance Prize, was named Best Harlequin Romance of the year by Romantic Times and was shortlisted for a RITA.
Matty applauded politely, then said, ‘Okay, I’ve been patient, now it’s my turn!’
I wrote Her Wish-List Bridegroom; single fathers, single mothers, cheating boyfriends, a cat called Archie. Lots of emotion in this one. For Juliet.
Matty hated Juliet. ‘The woman’s a wimp,’ she said. ‘She didn’t have a father and her boyfriend stole her job. Big deal. It’s My Turn!’
I wrote A Nanny for Keeps. Emotion, humour, a six-year-old diva, chickens…
Matty threw a pot of purple nail polish at the back of my head and said, ‘Enough with the livestock. IT’S MY TURN!’
She was right. It was her turn.
Having a great character raring to go, however, is not enough, but that’s when the magic started. With the fairies. Day-glo bright, the Forest Fairies spread their wings, flew down onto the page and set about ruining Sebastian Wolseley’s day, year, life…
I wrote a whole chapter about Sebastian and the fairies (still prevaricating.) Then, because I wasn’t writing a book about the fairies, but about Matty and Sebastian, I stopped fooling around and started again at the belated blessing of the marriage of the hero and heroine of A Wife on Paper. The guests have moved into the marquee to start the dancing, only Matty and Sebastian remain outside in the garden, detached, apart from the crowd, alone. Matty, because, it’s not in her nature to be a spectator and Sebastian – well, weddings come next to bottom on his list of favourite occasions. And he’s already been to a funeral that day.
The opening is on my website if you want to read on.