EVERYTHING COMES IN THREES – or how I wrote my trilogy.
Which comes first? – the chicken or the egg? It’s a perennial question and, in a different form, is one often asked of novelists. How do you start? What comes first? Do you have a situation and then fit characters to it? Or characters that are larger than life in your head and you have to find a story to fit them into? Or perhaps there’s a place that you’ve been to that has affected you deeply, or there’s a place you want to go to, if only in your head and with the aid of the internet and travel books?
For me, my ‘Emma’ trilogy (the third, EMMA AND HER DAUGHTER, published 9th January 2015) began when my husband and I were researching family history. We discovered that my husband’s Great Uncle George, had crewed on two fishing smacks that fished out of Brixham. One was lost to the sea – although with no loss of life, thank goodness – and poor old George was badly injured on the other. This injury meant he had to vacate his tied cottage, and his wife and fifteen-year-old daughter with him. Fortunately for George and his family his mother took them all in. But the workhouse back in the late 1800s/early 1900s was an all too present uncomfortable alternative for others in a similar situation.
Using the writers tip, What If?, I transposed George’s situation onto his daughter. What if a girl that age had been orphaned by the sea? What struggles might she have? How vulnerable would she be to men who might prey on that vulnerability? And what if she took the only route she could - as Emma does in book one of my trilogy - and lived under the roof of a single man, older than she was, which set tongues wagging?
So, I had my heroine in my mind. A hero, Seth, came to me fairly quickly. All heroines, and heroes, need those who aid them in the telling of their story, and those who hinder them. I quite like writing baddies and my trilogy has four stinkers! Seth’s father and two elder brothers are cruel and criminal. But I was conscious of not making just men the baddies so I have a truly evil female baddie, Caroline. I was also aware that Emma needed a friend, someone who was there for her through thick and thin and when she went to work at Nase Head House, Ruby was there waiting for her.
I know a lot of people write a detailed synopsis before they start. Some write character profiles of all their main characters and often their secondary ones as well. I did this for Emma and Seth, but no more than a couple of paragraphs. There are those who plot and those who fly by the seat of their pants when they’re writing and I am most definitely a ‘pantster’!
And so I began to write. I had Emma and Seth fairly well established in my mind and as they walked across the first pages of my novel, other people began to appear in my mind – Beattie Drew, Matthew Caunter, Ruby Chubb, Olly Underwood. TO TURN FULL CIRCLE (the first in my trilogy) is a book that can stand alone but Emma was still only eighteen-years-old when it ended. I felt she had more living to do, more of her story to tell. And so I began on a sequel, EMMA:THERE’S NO TURNING BACK. That begins where the first book ends, and it takes Emma through the growing-up process, but there is more pain along the way for her. She and Seth are now a couple, but Emma also has a kindly benefactor in Matthew Caunter, a very charismatic man who lives dangerously. Just as Emma, Seth, and toddler, Fleur, prepare to emigrate to Canada, Matthew makes a reappearance in Emma’s life. She has to make a choice. And she chooses Canada and Seth. And this book, too, could have ended there. But Emma still had hopes and dreams. Would they ever be fulfilled? EMMA AND HER DAUGHTER gives Emma the happy ending I know now that I wanted for her when I began writing her story, although I didn’t know it then.
Writing a trilogy has been a steep learning curve. When writing a second book enough information about the main protagonists’ background has to be filtered in without it reading like a history book with all the flashbacks. And then, when I wrote the third, I had one heck of a lot more information to filter in while telling a completely new story, with some new characters this time. I’ve been asked which of the three I enjoyed writing most and the answer has to be EMMA AND HER DAUGHTER. I hope now that readers will enjoy it, too.
1 e-copy of Emma and her Daughter
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Can ‘second love’ be true love?
It’s 1927 and Emma has returned to England from Canada with her teenage daughter, Fleur. After the tragedies of the past, Emma is ready to start again in Devon, the place she used to call home – despite the bittersweet memories it brings back.
But memories are not the only thing that she has to contend with. There’s also the secret she’s been keeping from her daughter; the secret that’s revealed when an unwelcome visitor comes back and threatens to turn their lives upside down.
Throughout it all Matthew Caunter is rarely far from Emma’s thoughts and, as it happens, much closer than she thinks. Could he be the key to her finally finding happiness, or will Emma discover the hard way that some people are just destined for heartache?