Thursday, June 28, 2007


I had an email this week from a reader who has collected all my “Melchester” books, but couldn’t find Poppy Kavanagh’s story.

Poppy, for those of you who have been with me for a while – we’re talking 1998 here – was the glamorous, older sister of Dora Kavanagh, the heroine of HIS LITTLE GIRL, my first RITA nominated book and Fergus Kavanagh, hero of A SUITABLE GROOM (he married Veronica Grant, who first appeared in GENTLEMEN PREFER ... BRUNETTES). Are you with me so far?

Poppy and her husband Richard make a fairly brief, but important appearance, in HIS LITTLE GIRL, but it’s obvious that they have “a story”. So obvious that ever since this book appeared not just readers, but foreign offices of Harlequin have been emailing me wanting to know the title of Poppy’s story.

It happened again today -- nearly ten years on, people still want Poppy’s story – and, like the heroines in SECRETS WE KEEP, I’m going to finally share the secret of Poppy Kavanagh.

Back in 1997 I wrote a trilogy of books for the Scarlet imprint. The Beaumont Brides – Wild Justice, Wild Lady and Wild Fire. I was about a hundred pages into Wild Fire – Melanie Beaumont’s story -- when I realised that short of a research trip to the Balkans, I was never going to make 100,000 words with this one, so I shelved it, started again and three months later delivered the 100,000 words that became Wild Fire to Scarlet’s Kensington offices. Lunch with editor. Meeting at Society of Authors. Busy day.

So far, so good.

When I got home there was an appeal for ELOPING WITH EMMY by the end of the month – seven chapters, three weeks; I worked so much faster then! Then I wrote GENTLEMEN PREFER ... BRUNETTES. When I’d finished that I flicked through my ideas file – nothing grabbed me – and then I took out the 100 pages of mss that started life as WILD FIRE.

It had a really great opening

“Something woke Melanie. One minute she was sleeping, the next wide awake, her ears straining through all the familiar night noises of the countryside for the out-of-place sound that had woken her....”

There’s a break in. A hero on the run from the law. A sick child. It was a little edgy for Harlequin Romance, it was true, but hey, I like to live dangerously – and before I could stop myself I’d got out my blue editing pencil and set to work.

First I had to change the names. Melanie Beaumont became Dora Kavanagh, not an actress, but a wealthy young woman who’d been running aid convoys to the Balkans. Her actress half-sister Claudia became Poppy, a supermodel and the “face” of a cosmetic company and Claudia’s new husband Mac, became Richard (both of them in the security business – no point in making work!)

It all worked beautifully and before I knew it I’d finished HIS LITTLE GIRL. So you see, Poppy and Richard do have a book, which is presumably why they feel like such “real” characters, but not as Poppy and Richard. You’ll find them as Claudia Beaumont and Gabriel McIntyre in WILD LADY.

Oh, and if you’ve ever read WILD FIRE and wanted to find out what happened to Heather Archer Beaumont after she climbed down out of the trees, then you’ll find her masquerading as Nyssa Blake in HIS PERSONAL AGENDA – which was supposed to be WILD & DANGEROUS, my fourth Scarlet novel -- the one that was never published. But that’s another story.

So, for those of you who enjoy competitions, I’m offering a copy of HIS LITTLE GIRL (which didn’t get retail distribution the States so is harder to come by than later books) and a copy of WILD LADY (my last spare copy and its not new, I’m afraid) to those of you who can tell me the name of the new trilogy I’ve written with Barbara Hannay and Jackie Braun. And the name of all three books.

Email me with POPPY’S SECRET in the subject line and your answers and snail mail addy in the body of the email.

You’ve got until 10 July.

1 comment:

a big fan of GPB :o) said...

Not entering the comp because I have all of these books (happy wiggle) - but I will say to other readers that GENTLEMEN PREFER BRUNETTES is the best category romance ever written. And the linked stories are also fabulous.

(Go and look over at the Pink Heart Society if you want to find out why *g*)