Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Writing of Ballet Shoes and Engine Grease

I have read several books where the hero stands to inherit a fortune provides he gets married.

He finds a female who -- against a suitable financial compensation -- agrees to become his wife for a stipulated period, usually one year. Although he eventually falls in love with the heroine, he resents her for being a money-grabbing opportunist who was willing to sell herself into marriage.

And yet, wasn't the hero doing just the same? He was getting married for no other reason but financial gain. It was simply that his price tag was higher, and he thought that he was somehow entitled to the fortune he would inherit if he satisfied the conditions in his father's / grandfather's / uncle's will.

I wanted to bring a new twist into that situation. What if the hero had enough stubbornness in him, enough moral backbone not to allow anyone to dictate his life? What if he said NO to the marriage and instead chose to walk away from a fortune?

I added another complication by requiring the hero to marry a particular woman before he could inherit, and then created a situation where the hero would have to work together with the woman he'd spurned.

I don't normally put real people in my books. (The only exception is COSMIC FORCES where the hero, Drake Lundberg, is based on someone I know.) However, I often use actual events, little bits of real lives that I've learned about.

In this book, I used two such incidents in the backstory of the hero and heroine.

One of my cousins  has a friend who used to be a ballet dancer, but had to give up her international career after she developed a dust allergy. And, one of my co-workers walked away from a car wreck after an accident, only to discover the following day that he had lost movement in his legs. Fortunately, he recovered after medical treatment and intensive physical therapy, just as the hero in my book did.

I didn't have to do a huge amount of research for Ballet Shoes and Engine Grease. A bit about ballet, and antiques, and making dolls' houses. I already knew something about Grand Prix motor racing, but I had to deepen my knowledge, and I had to study companies that manufacture and market luxury, limited edition cars. Business and law used to be my field, so those aspects only required a small amount of fact checking.

For the location, I made up a fictitious small town in New York State, an area I'm reasonably familiar with. The general location is not important to the story, but I wanted to include the contrast between living in a big city and a peaceful small town where everyone knows everyone.

To fit in with the small town atmosphere, I gave the families an important  role in this book. The cool, sophisticated mother of the hero, and the raucous, uneducated mother of the heroine, each have their own little side plots. Both have to adapt to their circumstances, accept the past and learn to overcome the knocks life has dealt them.

There are also numerous supporting characters. For me, the most memorable one is Soames, the inscrutable butler who runs the stately home where some of the events take place.

I hope you'll enjoy reading the book and meeting the cast.