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, 9 December 2011

Part 23 – Bliss deferred

No time for preambles: we have been neglecting the romance of the century lately, and Topaz and Cleft are eager to see whether they are any closer to a blissful union. Not yet, apparently: looks as though Anna is leading us down another plot U-bend…

Part 23 (by Anna)

The plane had touched down late in the evening, when the Spanish coast had been a prickle of orange lights far below. Now it was well past dawn and she had still not eaten.

The taxi driver had deposited her at her request on the lower flanks of the mountain. It was an empty landscape itching with insect sounds. The track was a scar of dust gaping ahead of her, the scrub like wiry hair springing up from it margins. She could feel the air thickening with the gathering heat as she toiled upwards.

She wondered what she would do when she reached the top. Events had tossed her so abruptly about that she had had no thoughts beyond the urgency of return. The answer, she trusted, would lie in the rocks and the ripe, raw vegetation that grew so untameably over her private peak.

The sun was high in the sky by the time she arrived at the place and the heat was already moistening her tired flesh. Exhausted, now she had achieved her goal she moved towards the tangle of prickly pears. She saw the rut which had commenced it all and the rock. But that was all they were: malicious thorns, a tear in the ground and an empty stone. How could she have expected more? What, indeed, had she expected?

Drained now of energy and purpose, she sank down on the parched ground and laid her hot forehead on her knees. She had come all this way for nothing. She would have wept although no tears came. The shifting sun was the only clue to how long she remained crouched there. Then came a sound cracking like a pistol through the humid silence.


  1. Based on her conversational topics today, I'm guessing the cracking noise is a whip ;-))

  2. Yes, she's been a bit like that ever since marrying in to the church