This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Part 3 – In which I fret about floozies

Anna’s latest instalment, below, suggests that Topaz and Terence are sharing a room, and I’m suddenly worried about Mills & Boon’s guidelines. Does that make Topaz too much of a floozy for a classic romance? Isn’t Mills & Boon all about chaste heroines and an ellipsis instead of sex?

I check the Mills & Boon website and realise that my preconceptions are so last century. Desire Be My Destiny looks as though it’s shaping up to fit into M&B's Modern Romance marque – that is, jet-set glamour and red-hot passion. So floozies are fine.

Part 3 (by Anna)

Up in the bedroom, Terence was adjusting his longjohns. He felt the cold always and she noticed, as she surveyed him, how his pallid skin pimpled in the evening air.

‘You’ve been a time,’ he said, easing one skinny leg out of its thermal swaddling.

‘Things to do, people to see,’ she said easily, and she thought: is this how it’s going to be from now on? Lies and evasions, and underlying them a new sensation that she was already beginning to identify as a ravenous consuming longing.

Her shoulder still burned and she knew that it was not the kiss of the late summer sun, but the imprint of Cleft’s large hand on her tanned skin. She wondered if Terence could detect it in her eyes as she glanced almost compulsively towards the balcony. Was he there still? She could almost feel those ice-blue eyes disrobing her through the inky black night. She had to know.

Ignoring the clammy hand that Terence extended towards her, she passed lightly through the French windows.

‘Just getting a breath of air,’ she called. How effortlessly the lies slid from her. She leaned over the balcony, feeling the polished railing hard and cool beneath her breasts. Her eyes strained questingly through the night. Was he there still?

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little worried ... do people still wear longjohns?