Category Archives: Liz’s books

It all began with a garden…

January sees the publication of my 70th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon and in the darkest days of winter, it offers the scents and colour of warm early summer days.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss

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The garden…

When a book is written and has been through the publication process, I often struggle to remember what inspired the original idea. How it got from a blank screen to the physical book that I’m holding in my hand.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss was like that.

blackberries

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I do know that I was thinking about an earlier book in which the garden had featured heavily and which I’d loved writing.

That one had started with blackberries hanging over a garden wall. It was set in a world I had begun to create more than twenty-five years (and many books) ago.

My world

dandelions

https://pixabay.com/users/mabelamber-1377835/

Back in that world – Maybridge and the villages of Upper Haughton and Longbourne – I once again started with a garden.

Not a manicured, tidy garden with perfect herbaceous borders and an immaculate lawn. This was a garden where the “lawn” was a wildflower meadow, where nettles were allowed to grow undisturbed to nurture butterflies, and dandelions were not dug up, but the flowers were made into wine.

butterfly on nettlesMy first thought was to return to the village of Upper Haughton. But I needed a river in the story that was beginning to take shape in my imagination.  Lower Haughton had a mention way back in The Bachelor’s Baby, so I set it there.

Having settled on the location, I disappeared down the rabbit hole that is  Pinterest to find a garden, and cottage, that matched my imagination. You can see the result here.

So, who would live in a house like this?

blonde woman with rose

https://pixabay.com/users/nastya_gepp-3773230/

Setting sorted, I needed my heroine. Why was she living in this extraordinary garden? Was she happy or hurting?

Silly question. Happy people, bless their hearts, do not make great stories.

Trying out names for her gave me family history. The Rose family, gardeners, travellers, innovators for generations, who always named their baby girls after their birth month flower. And so Honeysuckle Rose – raised in the cottage by her recently deceased great-aunt from the age of six and who, until a few weeks ago, had been nursing in refugee camps with an international medical charity – stepped into my garden.

This was a much-loved place, but a responsibility, too. One she didn’t feel ready to take on.

And a title?

It’s always easier to write a book when you have a title and with Honey’s name came my title. Even though I knew that my editor would never agree to it, all the while that I was writing this book, in my head it was Honey’s Garden for the Broken-Hearted. In my heart, it always will be.

And who lives next door?

man in garden

Burned out and hurting from one loss too many, Honey has retired to lick her wounds in the peace of her aunt’s garden. But there is more than one person who needs the garden’s healing touch.

Step in Honey’s reclusive neighbour, Lucien Grey, to shatter her peace.

These two people have spent years working in some of the toughest places in the world. They have both seen tragedy on an epic scale. Scarred by the experience, they have retreated behind high emotional barriers.

Lucien is struggling with PTSD. Writing about any kind of disability is fraught with danger, but I’ve witnessed the kind of panic attack he experiences and was writing from personal experience.

He doesn’t want to see anyone. It’s Honey, driven by fury, who is hammering on his door.

This is how it goes…

‘MURDERER!’

door knocker

https://pixabay.com/users/dennisflarsen-2321124/

Lucien Grey’s first reaction to the furious pounding on his front door had been to ignore it. After a succession of village worthies, from the vicar to the chair of the parish council, had called to introduce themselves, invite him to open the summer fete, join the bridge, cricket and tennis clubs, all of which he’d politely declined, he’d found a screwdriver and removed the knocker.

And the village had finally got the message.

This, however, was not the polite knock of someone hoping to involve him in a local good cause.

The hammering was hard enough to rattle the letterbox.

Concerned that there might have been an accident in the lane, that there might be casualties, he curled his fingers into fists to stop his hands from shaking and forced himself away from his desk.

Confronted by a furious female thrusting a fistful of wilting vegetation in his face, it was too late to regret his decision, but he didn’t have to stand there and take abuse from some crazy woman.

Wearing dungarees that had seen better days, her white-blonde hair escaping from a knotted scarf and pink, overheated cheeks, she looked like someone out of a Dig for Victory poster circa 1942.

muddy boots

https://pixabay.com/users/eatonab12-21083734/

He took a step back, intending to close the door, but she had her boot on the sill faster than the thought could travel from his brain to his hand.

It was a substantial leather boot, laced with green twine and as he stared at it, a lump of dried mud broke off, shattering into dust and clouding the polished surface of the hall floor.

‘Who are you?’ he demanded. ‘What do you want?’

The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. He didn’t care who she was or what she wanted.

Too late.

She was going to tell him…

And, finally…

book with matching nailartI’ve had all kinds of fun with special occasion nails, but Covid has meant that I’ve been missing this treat.

Liz's nail art to match her new bookI did have red, glittery nails for Christmas. This week, when I went to see Charlotte, she had the UK cover of my book on her phone and was as excited as I was to make the nails match.

This is the result.

Nails to match the cover, and the wildflower meadow that appears in the book!

Liz

Liz

Is your book dated? A writer’s cautionary tale

In the beginning…

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Many years ago, around about my fourth book, I created a town called Maybridge. It was an amalgam of the town I grew up in and a much larger town a few miles away.

Since then, it has provided the background for many stories. It may be no more than a brief visit by the hero or heroine. A shopping trip, a visit to the bank manager, a visit to A&E.

In a couple of books the heroine lives there, and we see her set off on an adventure that will change her life.

Image by Trang Dang from Pixabay

Sometimes I set a story in the town and, over the years, I have created a world with a river (the River May), a thriving foodie area with independent shops, a huge old coaching inn that has become a great craft centre (owned by one of my heroes, naturally), parks, major companies and history.

World Building

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Christmas Reunion in Paris—a writer’s anxiety and joy

The beginning…

romantic novelist busy editingWriting Christmas Reunion in Paris was a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.

It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.

The collaboration…

writer at laptop smilingEmails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.

That was the fun part!

Paris…we’ve done that…

Paris for Christmas reunion

My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.

More fun.

It couldn’t last…

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Animals in books: cute, endearing. Risky?

When its eyes met mine…

cover Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie“On a gloomy March afternoon, sitting in the same high school classroom she’d been sitting in for thirteen years, gritting her teeth as she told her significant other for the seventy-second time since they’d met that she’d be home at six because it was Wednesday and she was always home on six on Wednesdays, Quinn McKenzie lifted her eyes from the watercolour assignments on the desk in front of her and met her destiny.”

Jennifer Crusie is famous for putting wonderful dogs in her books and this is no exception. Quinn’s destiny is a small black dog with desperate eyes and he isn’t a prop, a cute accessory for her heroine. He gets the opening line in Crazy For You, because he’s about to change her life.

Animals in books? Dogs, more dogs and a duckling or two

Georgette Heyer put animals in books, shown here with her dogGeorgette Heyer, seen here with her dog, was another author who used dogs, kittens, even ducklings to delight us. In a long scene in The Grand Sophy the ducklings escape, are recaptured and generally cause chaos. 

ducklings

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

Venetia‘s Flurry flew to her rescue when, shockingly, Damerel kissed her. Unfortunately Flurry desisted the moment he was commanded to “sit”, recognising a master when he heard one. But he was enough of a distraction for Venetia to extract herself. Once she’d done that, she was more than a match for the man!

And Ulysses, the disreputable mongrel Arabella foisted on Beaumaris, is a joy. 

But writers beware!

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Location, location, location…

The brief…

location for bucket-list bridesLast year I received an invitation from three authors I know and whose books I love – Donna Alward, Nina Singh and Barbara Wallace – to complete the quartet to write a mini series called “Bucket List Brides”.

Four young women, attending a charity auction, bid on an adventure. What happened to them after that was entirely up to each author.

The auction…

Tnantucket island location with sunsethe auction was to take place at the Merchant Resort, a fabulous hotel resort complex on Nantucket Island.

I needed a suitably gorgeous resort location, a beach and the kind of cottage that an islander family could have lived in forever. It was time for a little online research. I disappeared down the Pinterest rabbit hole for more time than was strictly necessary and followed #nantucketisland on Instagram. But that wasn’t the beginning of the story. This is the beach – with the necessary sunset – where it all began.

This is play time. The best part of writing – apart from the moment you sit back and know the book is finished – and a visit to that island location is now very high on my own bucket list! Continue reading

The story began, but where? Liz Fielding puzzles

I began, but where? How? What was the inciting moment?

cover of Liz Fielding's Latest Book The Billionaire's Convenient Bride

Liz Fielding’s Latest Book
The Billionaire’s Convenient Bride

Every time I finish a story, I try to remember where it began, in this case to try and put my finger on the exact moment when The Billionaire’s Convenient Bride stopped being a mess of stuff in my head and began to be a story.

Sometimes it’s so clear.

I once saw a great house set high up in the woods as I was being driven to Cheltenham. I instantly pictured a woman standing on the doorstep. Angry, not wanting to be there. She had a wedding to arrange. The man who answered the door was expecting someone else so he wasn’t happy, either. And then there was the baby.

It took me a while to work out the why, the what happened next, but it eventually became The Bride, the Baby and the Best Man.

My new book began with Dora

Liz Fielding's new book began with Dora, the dachshund

I don’t usually add dogs to my books. That’s because, like babies and small children, you constantly have to remember where they are. Make sure they’re being taken care of.

This time, however, I found myself desperate for a dachshund. I have an entire Pinterest page devoted to them! I began buying stuff with dachshunds on them. Notebooks, socks, a Christmas sweater — they are, I discovered to my joy, everywhere. This is Dora. Continue reading