Coming Back to Writing Fiction
Hi, I’m Paula Martin. I’ve lived in North West England all my life, and was a high school history teacher for more years than I care to count.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, I had four romance novels published by Mills and Boon, and by Robert Hale here in the UK. Two of them were also published by Harlequin. I also had several short stories published in romance magazines.
Then I stopped writing romance fiction. I thought my muse had deserted me. This might have been because my teaching career plus bringing up two girls as a single parent demanded much of my time, as did my main interests in working as a Girl Guide leader and helping backstage at the local amateur musical theatre. In more recent years, since I retired from teaching, I’ve also travelled a lot, in Ireland, mainland Europe, USA and Canada and the Middle East.
Coming back to writing fiction again after a 20+ year break was pure serendipity.
About 5 years ago I became completely hooked on the TV series, 'The West Wing' and also discovered the world of fan-fiction. Egged on by another West Wing fan, I started a fan-fiction story which followed on from the very last scene of the series. It was only intended to be a short story - but somehow it grew. It ended up with 40 chapters and 80,000 words. My muse had returned and I was writing fiction again! But, at this stage, solely for my friend.
Fate intervened later in the year when another friend persuaded me to post the story on one of the yahoo groups devoted to ‘The West Wing’. In November 2007 I started posting my 'instalments'. I must admit I was nervous because a lot of the members of the group were far more knowledgeable about TWW than I was. To my relief, everyone liked it, even when I shocked them with an unexpected twist in the story!
In June 2008, fate stepped in yet again when, during a Civil War battlefield tour in Virginia and Pennsylvania, I met a best-selling Harlequin author who was doing the tour of part of her research for a Civil War trilogy. We got talking about writing and it was she who persuaded me to try writing novels again.
Back home again, I dug out a box which had languished in a cupboard for many years. It contained several unfinished stories so, with new-found enthusiasm, I started to re-write one of them. I wasn’t totally surprised when, after several months, this was rejected by Harlequin.
In the meantime, I had re-started another novel which only had about 3 chapters previously written. I was then fortunate to find two fantastic critique partners who helped me to tighten up my writing (as well as get rid of some of my bad habits!)
This book was accepted by Whiskey Creek Press in May 2009 and is released this month. The story is set in London's West End theatre world. I’ve always been interested in the theatre and have worked backstage at many amateur shows (usually musicals), as well as directing several shows with the Junior Group of my local amateur theatre society. I’ve also been backstage at two professional theatres (admittedly not in London) but I would imagine they can’t be much different from those in the West End! So, hopefully, my background setting for the story sounds reasonably authentic!
His Leading Lady – available from Whiskey Creek Press http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/
Jess Harper’s predictable life is turned upside down when she discovers that Lora, her twin sister, has disappeared. It’s just a week before rehearsals are due to start for a new West End musical in which Lora has the lead role. Jess decides to pose as her sister in order to save Lora's career. This brings her into close contact with arrogant theatre director Kyle Drummond. Attraction sparks between them but there’s also evidence that he had been dating Lora. So is Jess simply a substitute – in real life as well as in the show? And what will happen when Lora eventually returns?
(Jess is posing as her sister, and she and Kyle have returned to Lora’s apartment after having dinner, the night before they are due to do a TV interview together)
He followed her across the landing and her nerves fluttered like a bird caught in a net. Her hand shook as she started to put the key in the lock, then Kyle’s hand on her arm stopped her. “I’ll pick you up at nine thirty tomorrow,” he said.
She looked at him, genuinely taken aback. “But – but aren’t you coming in?”
The instant she said it, she could have kicked herself. Amusement flashed across his face. “What man could resist such an invitation?” he said with a quick grin. “But no, tonight I really must resist. You need a good night’s sleep and I –” He stopped and gave a half-laugh. “Well, let’s just say that I have a few things to sort out before tomorrow. I’ll see you at nine thirty.”
Jess knew the feeling sweeping through her should be one of relief, knew she should say a casual goodnight to him and open the apartment door. But the look in his eyes sent waves of heat rising inside her. She couldn’t move, even when he put his hands on her arms and started to lower his head. A warning bell shrilled in her head but by then Kyle’s mouth was against hers and it was too late.
His mouth was soft at first but the feel of it, so warm and tantalising, sent her head into a spin. A small gasp escaped from her lips and parted them slightly. Kyle’s arms went round her, and he pulled her firmly against him. His lips hardened and his tongue slid into her mouth.
She’d been kissed passionately before but nothing had prepared her for Kyle’s kiss. His mouth took possession of her in a seductive demand for surrender. As his tongue gently fondled hers, sensations that she had never known before scorched through her, ignited every nerve and melted every bone. She gripped his shoulders, her head went back and involuntarily she arched towards him, thrilling exquisitely to the feel of his hard body against hers. The surrender he demanded was complete as she responded with the same fervour, wanting more, still more.
When he released her, her breathing was ragged and she looked up at him, dazed and disorientated.
For a couple of seconds, Kyle looked just as stunned. Then he took a deep breath and gave her a wry grin. “You certainly know how to make a man regret his decision!” He cupped her chin with his hand and even that burned through her and then gave her a tender smile. “I’d better go, otherwise I never will. Goodnight, beautiful lady. Sleep well. And don’t worry about tomorrow. You’ll do just fine.”
His lips brushed her mouth again in a brief parting kiss and then he turned to the lift. The doors were still open and Jess watched as he went in and pressed the ground floor button. Still totally numb, she raised her hand slightly. Kyle smiled and tilted his head in farewell.
Only when she was staring at the lift doors did she finally move. The key was still in the lock and she let herself into the apartment. She closed the door behind her, then caught sight of herself in the hallway mirror. Her face was flushed and her blue eyes stared back at her wildly.
“Oh God,” she whispered as she brought both her hands up to her cheeks. For a few moments she couldn’t think straight. All she could feel was Kyle’s mouth, his tongue, his whole body. A quiver ran down to somewhere deep inside her.
In the next moment her eyes widened with horror. How could she have let him kiss her like that?
She looked at herself again in the mirror and tried to calm her thudding heart. Lora’s clothes, Lora’s make-up, Lora’s hairstyle. Of course, he’d thought that he was kissing Lora, not her. And she’d responded as Lora. Hadn’t she?
So that was some damn good play-acting, Jess. Except that it didn’t explain her own response. Not just the way she’d responded to his kiss, but all those other feelings that she didn’t even want to think about.
Relief, she told herself firmly. All evening she’d been worrying about how the evening was going to end, and when he’d said that he wasn’t coming in, it was simply relief that swept through her Wasn’t it?
Underneath, she knew there had been far more than that, but already her mind frantically tried to deny what had happened to her emotions and to her body too. Instead, she diverted her thoughts to the TV interview. Once she got through that, this whole charade would be over. She could go back to Ashfield and forget that Kyle Drummond even existed.
Contact me at:
Writers Blog (with 4 other writers)