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…

Friday, 21 October 2011

Part 4 – Issues of integrity

It’s no good, I can’t have them sharing a room; it might raise too many questions about Topaz’s integrity later on. I feel protective of her already, even though all I know about her so far is that she has swelling breasts and long legs.

Mind you, talking of integrity, I don’t know how we’re going to get her away from Terence without making her appear fickle. I’m starting to feel protective of him, too, and don’t want him to be hurt. It feels like being the parent of a toddler all over again.

Part 4 (by Oliver)

No. The beach glimmered silver and the breezes still teased the bougainvillia blossom that fringed the shore, but the only thing that betrayed Cleft’s presence was a scuffle of sand and a trail of his large footprints leading out of sight.

‘Dear.’ Terence’s soft voice was surprisingly – annoyingly – close. Topaz turned and sighed at the sight of his pyjamas buttoned high, his eyes squinting slightly as they always did when he had taken off his spectacles.

‘Beddy-byes for you,’ he said. ‘We’ve an early start tomorrow, if we’re to get to the building site by nine. I’ve arranged for the foreman to meet us at the bottom of the mountain so that he can drive us up in his jeep. Mustn’t be late for him.’

Funny how suddenly things change, thought Topaz. Yesterday she had been excited at the prospect of seeing the site of the house Terence was building for her high in the mountains. Now that she knew what excitement really felt like, the house had lost its allure.

‘All right,’ she said, flatly. ‘Good night, Terence.’ And she went into the adjoining bedroom and closed the door.

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