Sing it with me: “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…” Thank you, Gilligan’s Island, for the loan of the theme song. Because today’s prompt asks how I came up with the idea for my first book–a “three-hour-tour” concept that mushroomed into a series.
Mercy’s Embrace, a romantic romp in three parts, was a hoot to write.. It’s a what-if continuation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and it grew out of a fan fiction series I wrote with Susan Kaye. The hero, Admiral McGillvary, was created by Sue. What fun we had talking over story ideas! McGillvary turned out to be the perfect foil for Mercy’s snooty heroine, Elizabeth Elliot.
I was intending to focus on Anne, but her lovely older sister elbowed her way to the front. What could I do? Elizabeth is more lively than Anne, and more beautiful, and far more opinionated. She’s also just as desperate and is not too proud to scheme. But she’s not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins.
I soon discovered that Austen’s “Other Elizabeth” and I have much in common. From being an eldest daughter to experiencing a social and financial slide, I understood her plight. And if I were beautiful enough to get away with saying what I think, I would be just as much trouble as she is!
Austen left groundwork that made Elizabeth’s humanization possible, so I ran with it. And then I remembered that very beautiful women are sometimes quite lonely. Oh, they have busy social lives, but their friendships are often conditional. Here was the perfect opening for McGillvary, a man whom Elizabeth dismissed as too unimportant to matter. Their unlikely friendship had readers turning pages. Would she lose her heart? Would he?
Mercy’s grew over eight summers and gathered a loyal following. By the time I finished, Austen fiction was becoming popular, so I tossed my hat into the publishing ring. In 2009 the first Mercy’s book was released by Wytherngate Press, and the other two followed at six-month intervals.
The 35-Day Challenge continues! If you’d like to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here.