Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Richard and Rose ride again!


Richard and Rose are back (again!). They've been on Amazon for a while, and now they are going wide. So whatever platform and media you want to read them in, they're here!
Wherever possible, the covers feature the actual books that I fictionalised for the series, and there's a lovely portrait of Richard and Rose on each cover, which I commissioned especially. My favourite covers yet! What do you think?

The Story of Richard and Rose

I'm going to rattle through this, and maybe I'll put it on my website, too.
Richard and Rose started when my babies were driving me crazy with Thomas the Tank Engine and Fireman Sam. Much as I love them, I needed something of my own to keep sane.
Originally I planned to write a story for my own amusement, about a murder-solving couple in the mid-eighteenth century, my favourite era. They would be at the lower ranks of the aristocracy, and pass unnoticed in society, the better to observe.
I went to Calke Abbey, where the first book, Yorkshire is based. The place is astonishing, preserved as the higgledy-piggledy mess it was when the National Trust took over. I knew I would write about that one day.

So I had my heroine, the unassuming Rose, set foot in the ruin when her brother inherited the title of Earl of Hareton. All was going well.
Then I "saw" the scene. I saw a popinjay, a dandified man of fashion who was for all his flamboyance, definitely male. Even then I didn't recognise him as my hero. He had a quieter twin brother, so I tried to make Gervase the hero. But it didn't work.
I went back, and put Richard in his place and the whole book came to life. I wrote it in a fever, and I knew there would be more than one book. What happened after marriage? Would they be happy?
And I wrote it in the first person, a technique I have never used before or since, but the story demanded it. I did try to change it to third person when a publisher took an interest, but it didn't work. The book died on me. So it stayed in first person and I found another publisher, a tiny one.

I sold the book to a company called RFI West, but someone wrote to me and told me not to sign, because there were rumblings. I didn't, and when RFI West broke apart, I sent it to a spinoff company, NBI. they published the first three books, Yorkshire, Devonshire and Venice.
Then the owner disappeared, together with the money. So when that ended, I sent the books to Mundania. Meantime I had joined Samhain with another series, and after Mundania spent nearly two years mulling over the books, I got the rights back and sent them to my editor at Samhain, Angela James, who'd been gagging to get her hands on them.
So far so good. But Angela left, and the replacement editor and I didn't see eye to eye on anything. She was a great editor, but she didn't want my books, she wanted something else. We parted ways, and I got an editor who I could work with, but it was too late. The previous editor had torn apart my idea for the last book, Lisbon. After she left, I rescued it, but Richard and Rose nearly never had an ending, and I had already dumped one book half written, I was so dispirited with the way things were going. I'll never make a writer, I thought.
And then last year Samhain closed. I was gutted. But I persevered, got the rights back and now they're out as self-published books.
What astonishes me is that people still love them, still want them. After all this time. So thank you, and here they are again!
Excerpt
So how about a bit from the first chapter of the first book I ever had published?
I sat in my best riding habit in the dirt at the side of the road, a man I hardly knew sprawled next to me, his head in my lap. I looked ruefully at my skirts as blood seeped into the material. I’d bought it especially for this visit, and now it was ruined. Mr. Kerre and the coachman kicked and pulled at the overturned roof of the stricken vehicle. The canvas covering was peeling away with age; its thin top splintered when the men aimed hard kicks at it. Mr. Kerre had pulled out his brother, the man whose head now lay in my lap. They had more difficulty reaching the other occupants.
Our horses were safe enough, their reins thrown over the branches of a nearby tree. The unhurried shifting of their hooves matched the movements of the coach horses standing close by, cropping grass.
Blood saturated my riding gloves as I held the gaping wound together in what seemed increasingly like a vain attempt to stop the bleeding. I daren’t move in case the outpouring worsened. Cramps spread across my back, and the hard pebbles of the road dug into my legs.
My breath misted in the crisp autumn air, and I feared my patient would begin to shiver in that uncontrollable way I’d seen before in others. He might have lost so much blood he wouldn’t recover before we got him back to the Abbey. The thought, rather than the cold air, made me shiver. I hardly knew this man but I might not get to know him any better.
He opened his eyes and looked directly at me, staring uncomprehendingly until he recovered his senses. I saw intelligence return to his face, and then something else. Something warmer.
I stared at him transfixed. No, oh no. This couldn’t happen, to me, not sensible, shy overlooked Rose Golightly. But I had no way to stop it, and I couldn’t look away now. This wasn’t right, but my treacherous heart turned over when he smiled. “It’s you,” he murmured weakly.
How could a visit anticipated so eagerly, regretted so bitterly, end in this?
You can buy Yorkshire here: