Happy Wednesday! Today we’d like to share with you a special feature from the Choc Lit Blog. Sheryl Browne, author of The Rest of My Life, talks about developing the hero, plot, and setting of her novel. It’s a great read that will give you some insight into what really goes into researching and writing a successful romance!
You can view the original post on the Choc Lit Blog here.
A life on the river with Sheryl Browne
It’s Sheryl Browne on the Choc Lit blog today, chatting about The Rest of My Life, research and houseboats!
When Adam came into my life he was living on a houseboat, living an apparently carefree bachelor existence on his boat, I might add, intent on bedding every woman in the vicinity. Not instantly likeable then, despite outward attractive appearances. There was something more to him, though. It was there, in his smile, in his eyes, a loneliness, a longing? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but beneath the cocksure exterior, the confidence in bed, was it possible the man was actually lacking in self-esteem? Obviously, Adam needed further investigation.
And that was where the story began. My books tend to turn around the hero, looking at the fragility of love life and relationships. I always seem to start off with a nicely formed man (which isn’t a bad place to start, you have to admit). Whether he’s good or bad, or a dangerously heady mixture of both, my hero is always right there; his features, his hair, his clothes, his mannerisms, his conflicts. The heroine actually grows from him, as in what kind of woman would be attracted to him? What if she was attracted but couldn’t/wouldn’t admit it? What if a relationship between them was unacceptable – to society, to family, to themselves? You can see how a story might grow. The premise for The Rest of My Life was that Adam isn’t your usual hero material. He’s a womaniser, drinks too much, and is seemingly on a road to destruction. It’s going to be a very special woman who realises he’s actually frightened, not just of getting hurt, but of hurting others, to make him realise his past is colouring his future, to peel back the veneer and see the good in him.
So, I had the basic story, bar the actual writing. But what about the setting? I have no idea why Adam arrived on a boat, but he did. And that’s where he was staying stubbornly put. Luckily, being a boater, I have a fair amount of experience of boatyards, but it had to be the right one. More a marina, on a river, that would cater for luxury yachts, as well as narrowboats. Most marinas have chandleries (a shop selling boatware), some have workshops, but not all cater for live aboard boats. It had to have a summery feel, a bright holiday appeal: lots of shiny boats bobbing on the water – apart from Adam’s, which is a bit of an eyesore. It also had to have holiday cottages, so more holiday resort than a working boatyard. Research involving physical location, therefore, involved cruising the River Avon and Severn, which was a real hardship, I can tell you, stopping off at various pubs, mooring up in idyllic surroundings, eyeing up single men who happened to be cruising … Ooops!
I had fun with Adam (ahem). I loved writing Adam and Sienna’s story, though I must admit even I despaired of Adam at times, wondering whether he would ever turn himself around. Next came the worry of submitting. I mean, would anyone really take on board Adam, a hero who isn’t likeable? Thank goodness Choc Lit saw that Adam’s attractions were more than skin deep, as did Sienna, who simply would not give up on him. To say I was thrilled when Choc Lit contracted The Rest of My Life would be a bit of an understatement. I was ecstatic when the book was shortlisted for the 2015 Love Stories Awards. For a story I wasn’t so sure about, the reception has exceeded my hopes and inspired me to write on! Thank you to all those lovely readers and Book Bloggers who have been so fabulously supportive. Thank you also to Choc Lit Publishing and Matt Bates at WH Smith Fiction for believing in me.