Unveiling Ardenwycke

23 Mar

As it happens, this week’s post is about hatching a book that never in my wildest dreams did I think I would or could write. At that time, the premise was nowhere near my realm of possibility. Anyway, serendipity brought this article to my attention as I was sitting down to write my own story. I’m sorry to say I’ve not yet read anything by the author profiled here (but that will change, I promise) nor have I seen the movie. But I found the creative process to be fascinating and I hope you will, too.    http://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/WashingtonPost/Content/Epaper/2011-03-20/Tx1.pdf

The day after I finished writing Secret Shores happened to be the Saturday of an RWA meeting, and the featured speaker was Silhouette editor Leslie Wainger. Part of her talk was about a new line for which she was then accepting submissions. ‘Shadows’ would encompass all sorts of spectral things, ‘with a chill on every page’ she said, followed by a chuckle. She wasn’t exactly sure at that early date exactly what she did want, but ‘she’d know it if she read it.’  Seemed reasonable to me. To this day I don’t know what it was that she said that triggered my creative genes, but WOW!!!

I began to wonder about the possibility of a young woman in an old, old house, and what if there was one particular place in that house that prompted her to faint every time she went near it.  Hmmm.

During the 45-minute drive home after the meeting, Ev and I chatted about various things (who knows what at this late stage? – this was December 1991, after all.)  But, I could hardly wait to get upstairs to my computer and start making notes about this new book that I called That Room at Ardenwycke.  From that point on, for the rest of that month, my life was driven by this book. I’ve seldom experienced anything even remotely like it. (Not even Bertie, because after all, I’d been reading Regency novels for some 30 plus years before I wrote her story, which actually took 3-4 days longer to write, with  about the same number of words.)

When I left for work that first evening, around 6:30 —  approximately 4 hours after I’d arrived home – I knew the plot of the book, where the story was set, all the characters by name (!) and exactly what would happen when. I was dumbstruck, because I’d never even been to that part of New York State, and I knew absolutely nothing about sculpture as an art form, much less how a sculptor actually worked.  However, there was a local woman whose work I’d seen on several occasions, and greatly admired. So, the following Monday, I picked up the phone and called her! She graciously agreed to let me visit her, and inspect her studio. She gave me all sorts of helpful information, for which I’ve been everlastingly grateful to Charlotte Lees. She is still sculpting—brilliantly!

Some of my research for Secret Shores filtered through my consciousness, and created the family history in Oregon, from where the heroine originated before heading east to New York state. My own background in the auto biz influenced Max’s work and the paint job on his car, which still makes me laugh every time I read it. Otherwise, it all just simply fell out of the sky and into my computer.  I still have no other explanation for the ghost, etc., as for the most part, I didn’t much go in for ghostly stories. Still don’t, actually.

Mostly, it was a case of hang on tight, and just write down what was whizzing past my eyes – from the inside of my head!  My primary work at that time (free-lance, to be sure) slacked off drastically during that month, but would usually pick up again in January.  (Which it did, thank goodness!)  The timing was most fortuitous! Eighteen days after I started the book on December 16, 1991 — on January 2, 1992, I typed those happy words “The End” and sat down to read what I’d written – 70,000+ words.  I’d been so busy writing, I’d not read it as I went along, just printed it out and put it in a notebook.

Well! Talk about surprised! I was one startled reader. I’ve already related the tale about Clarissa and her lack of dialect, so I was at least prepared for that, but the rest of the story just blew me away. Truthfully,  I have no idea in the world where it all came from, but there it was. I did very little tinkering with it, mostly just correcting typos and such.  I did have to correct the town name, as it had moved because of mosquitos (!) from one location to another in the late 1700s!  (Or maybe 1800s, I don’t recall now.)

In January, 1992, I sent the ms. off to Silhouette, and it was not accepted there. Nor at Harlequin, nor Berkley, nor any of the other places I sent it.  Oh, the writing was good, and it was interesting —  ‘it held my attention’ – but where would it go in their lineup? Nowhere. So it sat. And sat. And sat some more. I still liked it however, so after Bertie found a home at Cerridwen, I asked my editor if she might like to read my ‘weird’ book. Bless her heart, she said yes, and very soon thereafter, I was offered a publishing contract for the book.

They changed the title slightly – to Ardenwycke Unveiled – but otherwise did very little to it before publication. I was thrilled by both the e-book and the print versions.  Even all these years later, I remain very fond of it.

Cover for the new Blush Imprint from Ellora’s Cave Publishing

An interesting note about the title. Remember, when this book hatched was late 1991, long before the days of Google. The name Ardenwycke is purely a figment of my imagination. But – if you Google that word now, you’ll find a few more than 200 references to it – and they’re all MY BOOK!!!!  Isn’t that neat?

Are you a writer nearing the end of the writing portion of a book, and wondering how to find an editor/proof-reader? If so, please send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to tell you about my editing services.  Write to me at:  bookmechanic@wordpress.com

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2 Responses to “Unveiling Ardenwycke”

  1. Betty Scappaticci Kaiser April 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Hi Kelly, I just wanted you to know that this is the first book of yours that I have read. My favorite genre is mysteries. I found this to be very interesting, it kept me reading and I liked the characters.
    Also, the fact that “I knew you when” is fun.
    Congratulations, you done so well for yourself. Good wishes for future books.
    Betty

    • bookmechanic April 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      Thank you, thank you! I’m delighted to know you enjoyed the book! I’m working on more, to be sure!

      Cheers! Kelly

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