A BREAK THROUGH AND A SUMMER COMPETITION...
The heroine of the book I'm writing at the moment first appeared in The Bride's Baby (which you can download free here as Sylvie's punk assistant who had a bit of attitude and a background she didn't talk about.
She immediately appealed to me as a heroine in her own right -- secrets, mystery, attitude, who could resist?
I had a couple of ideas but then the Escape Around the World mini series came up. I'd always wanted to write a story set in Botswana and suddenly everything fell into place with a celebrity wedding going off the rails and Josie -- now a partner in the business -- needing to prove herself to the "Establishment".
I decided to move Josie's story on a few years, basically so that she wouldn't be quite such a challenge to the cover artists. Purple spiked up hair, goth makeup, punk grunge clothes and those Doc Martens...
(You'll have to imagine the sound of teeth being sucked here.)
I had a really lovely time playing with 1940s chic -- and I may yet use all that research -- but while the images piled up, the story stalled.
The clothes got in the way and after weeks of struggling, it suddenly hit me why I was having so much trouble actually writing the story.
This wasn't my Josie.
This woman calling herself Josie Fowler was an elegant (if still different), confident woman who'd found her place in the world and -- after three years as a partner had clearly been accepted by all those people who had raised their eyebrows to the roof when Sylvie rescued her from a hotel scullery and gave her a job.
My Josie still had to make that journey and that was what I should be writing about. Finally, the penny had dropped. I was thinking like the marketing department, trying to make it easy for them instead of standing up for my heroine.
Not my job.
Fiction should challenge not conform. And when I started to think about my Josie, the real Josie, a name emerged from the cluttered attic that is my brain.
Punk, successful, outrageous and glamorous and overnight, the Katherine Hepburn look vanished at a click of the mouse.
This is the back of a ZR vintage dress from the 80's -- a partnership gift from Sylvie to her protege.
Josie is back, but, because marketing -- whose job is to make sure that nothing on the cover will scare away readers with images that might challenge their idea of what a heroine should look like -- will turn her into the Stepford Wife on the cover of the book, I wanted you to see her the way I see her.
She's not as beautiful as the hair model. "Striking" is the word, Gideon McGrath, uses when he first sees her. A total contrast to the celebrity bride and her stunning bridesmaids.
My only problem now, is which of these fabulous Zandra Rhodes bags that I found online would you put with that fabulous dress?
Enquiring minds want to know and while I haven't got a new book out until later in the year, there's a signed copy of a book from my backlist for great "bag" stories.
Leave a comment telling me which one you'd choose, and share your "best bag" story.
I'll pick a winner next weekend.