So, you guys know I like to try different things. That’s really the only reason I write books at all: every new one is a challenge to see if I can do it. The Duchess of Rochester was a huge challenge for me because I was trying to write a story that included so many elements of a book I have loved since childhood. Coveted was an entirely different challenge… and this one almost broke me!
First of all it’s very loosely a 9/11 story, an Afghanistan war story, and of course a menage, love triangle story. WHEW! That’s a lot. And there’s nothing “romantic” about 9/11 or Afghanistan. But I felt those elements belonged there. Trust me, I considered deleting them but the characters wouldn’t have it! And then, since I like to write both male and female characters, there were three points of view! I know, a lot of authors just write the female and usually in the first person “I” voice. But I don’t like that for romance and I have always found that, if I ask them nicely, my male characters will let me know how they feel and add depth to the relationship. It helps so much to know what a man is thinking and why he’s doing the ass-backward stuff he does! LOL! But in this story there were two men– and I didn’t want their stories to overwhelm my female. What to do?
So, there were structural questions (how to hear from both men), thematic questions (how to talk about love and war) and timeline questions since the story begins in 2006 and ends in 2021.
Well it proved tougher than I imagined it would be. There were SEVEN drafts of this book– SEVEN (my usual is four). Each one had a different plot, different ending, everything. I hated all of them. I couldn’t get the story to work. Three times I almost gave up on it and started something else…
And then Mae, the main character, said, “NO! This is what I want to happen!”
That’s the kind of moment I live for as a writer. I love it when the characters come to life and boss me around. Mae told me the end of her story and it was like, “Well, duh. Of course.” Just like the plot lined up and it was over. Book done except for the cleaning up of little details and the proofing stuff.
Still, I worry. Yes, I worry about every book. What if the readers hate it? What if I haven’t got the structure right? What if it’s not romantic enough. Is the Happily Ever After happy enough? I love your reviews and comments, but I read them with my hands over my eyes, fearful and anxious. I’m sensitive, I guess. Needy, perhaps? Who knows…
All I can say is, I’ll take about two weeks to read and to relax a bit… and then I’ll start the next one! I think I already know what my next challenge will be… and with any luck, it won’t take seven drafts to finish!