Continuing with the questions that have piled up a bit . . .
15) ---Are there any elements in the SPYMASTER's LADY that you wished you'd done differently?
There are quite a few aspects of my life I wish I'd done differently. For instance, I wish I'd sold PHP Healthcare stock a few weeks earlier than I did.
And I made this dish last night - Fusilli Donna -- from a recipie my friend Donna gave me. I forgot to add the 1T vinegar, which would have improved everything. And there was the matter of forgetting to blanch the fresh spinach before I added it, though I coped with that fairly well. In any case, it was very good the way it came out.
So it would be strange indeed if I did not look at the galley of a book and say -- Dang! (using the exclamation point,) I should have done that dfferently.
There's lots of places in Spymaster's Lady, (and in Lord and Spymaster and in Forbidden Rose,) where I'd love to go in and jiggle with the writing. Make it clearer. Make it sweeter.
But if I were to come up with one particular place I'd change . . .
There's this scene in TSL where Grey has come up on Annique on the road out of Dover. Grey, who's being 'Robert Fordham', insists on going with her to London.
Originally, I had four or five paragraphs of Annique's internals. We see her thoughts while she decides it's safer to take Robert with her than to leave him behind, him wondering about who she is and maybe going to the authorities.
In the earlier drafts, I show her adding up the things 'Robert' knows about her -- he knows she's French; she's illegally in England; she's a skilled fighter; she throws knives like a circus performer; and she has these shifty Frenchmen chasing her.
I have her thinking this over.
What am I going to do about this? Anneka ponders in a French accent. (trans. Oh la la, I am le screwed.)
She decides that no lie is going to explain all these various lethal skills. I mean -- What? She's escaped from a sideshow and has the lion tamer after her? Keeping mum on the situation gets more and more suspicious.
So -- remember this was all in the draft -- I have Anneka decide to reveal about one tenth of the truth and say she's a retired spy because there's nothing like spreading a flimsy camo net of truth over the Big Knobbly Important Stuff you're planning to hide.
But this explanatory internal was long and boring and slow moving and . . . well . . . internal and I was up to the gizzard in internals along about then. So I jerked it all out of the final draft.
I figgered it'd be fairly obvious to the reader why Anneka has to make some explanation of who and what she is and if the reader can come up with a more plausible story to account for all that then the reader's a better plotter than I am and probably a writer herself and she will be sympathetic.
Looking back, I should have left in the part where I explained Anneka's reasons for being so 'open' with Robert, because we are not supposed to leave the reader scratching her head about such stuff and saying 'That was stupid of Anneka', when actually it was rather smart, IMO or at least that was the hopeful intention.
16) --You did an outstanding job with both sensory details and sexual tension -- were these elements you worked in naturally or reviewed the ms to find opportunities to ratchet up?
To which I reply -- Oh wow. Thank you so much.
I write in layers. That is, I make many drafts and go back to add detail. Every part of the manuscript is much niggled over.
But if we're looking at adding stuff at the level of scene, the love story -- the sensuality and sex -- is the core of what I was writing. That's what the 'story' is about. Those relationship scenes went in early. The rest of the pacing was moved around to accommodate them.
The 'action plotting' about drove me crazy, but the Annique/Grey interaction was pure pleasure to write. Came very naturally.
the photo of old paper is cc attrib glass and mirorr