Thursday, March 27, 2008

Out-take from The Spymaster's Lady

Someone asked how Grey reacted to Annique getting her sight back. The first time he saw he with her eyes working, was he startled?
Or what?

This is an out-take from the working document of The Spymaster's Lady.
(Annique is called Anneka in this draft.)
This bit of story, in Grey's POV, didn't make it into the final draft.


Doyle's smuggler contacts passed word that Anneka would be landed in Dover. She was easy enough to spot on the docks. But he was expecting a blind woman. She wasn't blind.

Grey stood in the shadow of a tavern doorway and studied her. Her eyes were definitely working. It was Anneka Villiers he was dealing with, so he had to ask himself if he could possibly, possibly have been wrong about her eyes.

But no one on earth can control the dilation of the pupils. She'd been blind.

More than that, today a kind of wonder clung to her that said the light of her eyes had been taken and returned to her. She looked from coiled ropes to the peeling, rocking boats to a herring gull perched on a bollard and collected the sights into herself like a farm girl putting eggs carefully into a basket.

In the middle of all that noisy, fish-filled squalor, she stood and grinned. Her face transformed itself to the cheeky, blazingly-alive Gypsy boy he'd seen juggling in the town square in Bruges. The light inside her was brighter than sunlight glinting off the sea. For the first time he realized how shadowed she'd been the whole time he'd known her by fear and exhaustion and blindness.

Was she carrying the plans? He didn't see how. He'd bet she wasn't carting a spare handkerchief under that hideous dress. Too bad. It would have been easier for both of them if she'd had the plans on her.

She pulled a shabby black scarf around her countrywoman dress and started into town. It was the first mistake he'd ever seen her make, that clothing. Nothing on earth could make her look a farm girl.

She walked like a dancer through the filthy streets. Like a fire flickering. None of the sailors lounging along the quays or on the doorsteps of brothels called after her. They'd buy a black-haired Irish whore tonight and dream about Anneka, but not one of them thought Anneka's quality was within his reach.

The next hour was busy. He wasn't the only man waiting for her at the dock. Somebody else had been alerted by the same smugglers. There were rats on her trail. He set his men to picking 'em off as soon as they showed themselves. But he had only three agents with him and God knew how many people were after Anneka Villiers this warm fall afternoon. She didn't spot them herself for a while, too busy enjoying life to be properly careful of it.

She was in the market, smiling at some oranges, when she noticed the cut-throat who'd been shadowing her for a block and a half. It was pure joy to watch her slide into the crowd, smooth as slicing water, and vanish.

He sent Fletcher to deal with yet another thug who was lurking among the chicken coops and he took off after Anneka.

He was in time. Barely.

She was cornered in an alley, squared off against five times her fighting weight. Duval and two of his bully boys. When he got there, she'd reduced one Frenchman to a whimpering welter of blood. She was having less luck poking a hole in Henri. She couldn't get close. The Frenchman had a reach like an ape.

So he took care of Henri for her. He didn't break his neck. Anneka kept leaving the bastard alive for some reason and it seemed polite to defer to her judgement. All he did was bounce him off a wall and, hoped, crack one of his shoulders. Then Anneka put a knife into Duval – his arm, not his throat. That was enough to send the pack scurrying.

She sagged against the wall, breathing hard, pale as parchment. If he'd come into that alleyway five minutes later ... the thought of her, bleeding her life out in this dim, ugly squalor, hit like a body blow. She was game enough, and a clever fighter, but she lacked edge. He clenched his hands into fists to stop them shaking.

If she were his agent, he wouldn't let her off the front steps without a backup.


  1. Jo,

    Thanks for the out-take!

    I'm going to have to print this off and put it in the book for future readings. (g)

  2. Oh, fabulous. That was one of the things I was very curious about - how the others reacted to Annique getting her sight back. Thanks for posting it.

  3. I tried this set of events both ways -- from inside Annique and from inside Grey. They each had something important to say, and I could really only go with one of them.

    It's a hard choice, sometimes.

  4. Thanks for sharing! It fills in the blanks for me.

  5. Anonymous5:52 AM

    I would love to see a "Director's Cut" version of this story, where you could put in all the interesting bits that didn't fit in the strict format of a historical romance. It would be fascinating reading.

  6. Hi Martha,

    Skilled writers and plotters don't produce these little snippets that get tossed out. (sigh)

    They write efficiently.
    Maybe with some more practice I'll be able to do that.

    I'll have to look around and see if there are any other major scenes I had to drop ...

  7. Oh, Jo! How did this get left behind?
    Because you could only follow one person. I'd have followed Grey, then switched to Annique! I suppose that's why you're published and I'm not. BTW, why the name change? Other name sounded too Scandinavian?

  8. Anonymous7:59 PM

    Hi, Jo,

    Unlike Lynne, I think you made the right choice for the book. It moves better the way it is.

    I hope that it's not skill and efficiency that produces unused scenes. I am inclined to think that there are 2 versions of a story, the first is what happened, and the second is what is told. The teller must be brutal about what is told, and what is omitted, in service to the tale.

    If a writer creates characters that feel like real people, readers will care about more than what is told, more than the line of the story. You have done that with your crew, and that is a great skill, I think.


  9. Anonymous8:16 PM

    That would be -lack- of skill and efficiency producing unused scenes. Sorry.


  10. Bless whoever is trying to 'splain this to me. I know the process worked better the way Jo did it. Criminey.
    Please quit trying to educate me!

  11. I was hoping, originally, to get bits of both POVs in the first part of that chapter. Maybe two POV handoffs before Annique left Dover.

    Turned out, I couldn't, but I played back and forth with it for a good long time.

    With practice, I think we get a better sense of what works. The best POV for a scene becomes obvious. The place for the POV switch pops up and says 'hi!' in the planning stage. And we don't have to actually write it all out and look at it and think about it.

    Being efficient. That's the goal. But being inefficient, I got them out-takes ...

  12. Hi Lynne --

    Anneka was the 'working name' of the heroine. I knew I'd have to change it in the final version, because Anneka is not a French name and it's not period-appropriate.

    I think that was about the first thing Wendy McCurdy, my wonderful editor at Berkley, said. "You'll have to change her name, you know."

    I knew.

    Coming up with Annique gave me some headaches ... but I do love the name now. It fits her.

    I don't know if other folks end up doing this with character names ...


  13. Anonymous9:47 PM

    My favorite scene is when Anneka arrives in Dover, and seeing the scene from her eyes, yet I'm glad I read this out-take. I almost want to clip it and clip it to the chapter in the book, inserting it just where I think the scene could benefit from this POV switch.

    It's too bad some things must be cut, but you made the right choice, IMHO.


  14. Anonymous9:55 PM

    I just noticed on Amazon that MY LORD AND SPYMASTER HAS A COVER. Very cool... Why did I think Jessamyn was a blonde?

  15. Hi Jo, I love the out-takes, and know why you had to 'kill your darlings.'
    As for having to change the first name to Annique, I, uh, get that,too.
    Deciding to set my book in Wales, and adding an MGM cast, I scoured the internet for names. I first found a sight in Wales for naming Corgi's. I kid you not.
    Then the cast grew along with the internet. I now have a print-out that states names, what they mean in Welsh and who they belong to. I check every name before I *think* of naming anyone else. Auditions are closed. Plus my blog is acting up. Things are going great! Not!

  16. Hi Lynne -

    Dog names.

    (jo curls up, snerkling)

    I have a friend with two corgies. There are different types, apparently, and she has one each of two types.
    I don't have the heart to tell her they look mostly alike to me.

    Dog names ...
    Writers will go to any lengths.

    Somehow or other, I had been under the impression that 'annika' meant 'my dear' in Welsh, but apparently, it doesn't.


  17. Hi Cathy

    Yes. The cover is up. Isn't it pretty?

    (cough) My Jessamyn is blond. She has 'wheat-coloured' hair.
    Yes. Well ...

    (moving right along here)

    ... I'm going to also mention that no scene in the book actually takes place on the high seas. They do get onto a small ship, but it's on a sunny afternoon and the vessel is firmly docked in the Thames.

    Marketing remains kinda mysterious to me.

    The cover artist who created thos lovely, if slightly puzzling, images is Judy York, by the way. A very fine artist. She did both My Lord and Spymaster and the Spymaster's Lady.

    Her website is here --

    and you can see the Loretta Chase 'Lord Perfect' cover right on the front page. Cool, yes?

  18. Yes, writer's will go to any length, even dog names, if necessary. I went to look at the new cover for Jessamyn and it's gorgeous. I shall be one the pre-order list, oh, today, likely.
    And Annika is not a Welsh name, no.
    Sends me into fits just thinking of all the eejit Welsh names. Don't want to have a seizure, so, hugs, love you, see you later,

  19. Although I enjoyed this out-take, the scene from Annique's POV was MUCH more exciting. Glad you went with it in the published version.

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  23. Hi Linda --

    That's what I thought. Annique's story IS the story here.

    You know how they say to hand the POV to the character with the most at stake?
    Annique is the one undergoing a transformation. Moving from country to country. Making a decision. Starting a new life.
    Her POV.

    The placement of the POV flip in this chapter was forced upon me by the major story point we were doing here.

    I needed to start in Annique's POV so I could be inside of Annique when the H&H met. This gives the reader a front-row seat when Annique does her non-recognition bit.

    That non-recognition is one of the Great Implausibilties and we just go past them in a 'quick quick move along now foks these's nothing to see here the hand is quicker than the eye' manner.


    But we also want to make it feel possible.

    So I first did the intimate, realtime, detailed 'showing' of her non-recognition.
    (In her POV.)

    Then I followed that up with the intellectual 'telling' of why she didn't recognize him.
    (In his POV.)

    (Which is why it is never a case of 'showing' is better than 'telling.' It's more a matter of using both.)

    Anyhow ...
    that need to 'show' and then immediately 'tell' dictated where my POV change had to be and what could be covered inside each character's head.

    Thus my out-take.

    Really good authors plan this all out beforehand and think about it before they write and do it economically and don't move thousands of words out of the Working Documents Folder into the Segments Removed From Working Dococument Folder.

  24. I seem to have posted the comment four times. Hmmm .... There can be too much of a good thing.

    Let's delete a few of them.

  25. Gosh, why did that get cut? I particularly love the part about her gathering sights to herself like a farmwife gathering eggs.

  26. Skilled writers and plotters don't produce these little snippets that get tossed out. (sigh) They write efficiently.


    If that's true, then there's no such thing creature on this planet as a skilled writer.

  27. Hi Beth --

    Efficiency. We doesn't have it.


  28. "...collected the sights into herself like a farm girl putting eggs carefully into a basket."

    I loved the imagery of this. Really beautiful writing. I'm sad this didn't make it into the book, but I'm glad I got to read it. :D Please put up anymore little deleted scenes like this if you can. It's so neat to see what didn't make it in sometimes. It's one of my favorite things to watch on DVDs. More authors should do it.

    I know when I'm writing/editing I usually have another file open and waiting labeled "deleted scenes" where I put everything brilliant that, in service to the story, I must cut. :(

    Actually, I read something somewhere that said to keep everything you've written around because as soon as you throw it away or delete it you will convince yourself it was the Most Brilliant Thing Ever. Then you will drive yourself insane that's it's gone now. Much easier to have the stuff around and be able to look at it and know it was not in fact as brilliant as you remembered.

    Although, if this is an example of what you have to cut I'm not sure you have a collection Not-so-Brilliant stuff. :)

    Is this comment long enough yet?


  29. Hi Moth -

    The comment -- 'as soon as you throw something away you will convince yourself it was the best thing since toasted cheese' is soooo true.

    How insightful.

    Yes. One should always keep a file of the 'ones that got away.'

    I have a beautiful scene with throwing knives that I had to cut out of My Lord and Spymaster. I am absolutely determined to find a home for it someday because it is so lovely.