Behind The Scenes

Island Heat

I was thrilled and flattered when Harlequin asked me if I would like to participate in a 12 part continuity. The idea of working with 11 other writers really appealed to me, especially since some of them were my favorite authors. Then the “bible” arrived, a big binder full of the outlines for all our stories, including mine, and lots of background information on the cruise ship the series would be based on. While we were given a rough outline for our main love stories, we were encouraged to “make the stories our own”. The only parts that were set in stone were the continuing element of the series, which was basically a suspense/intrigue plot involving an international smuggling ring. Obviously, we all had to ensure we got our piece of the puzzle right so that all the books together would make sense.

Having worked in TV serial drama, I’m pretty used to picking up the threads of a story from where they were left off in the previous episode and doing my bit, then leaving the threads for the next writer to pick up. But it’s amazing how much information we all needed to keep exchanging to keep continuity strong throughout the 12 books. Someone very savvy (a continuity veteran, I suspect!) set up a yahoo group for us all to feed into, and we started exchanging info and ideas – everything from common character descriptions to deciding what color the uniforms should be and adding amenities to the ship as our stories required.

I wound up considerably re-structuring the story that came in my folder. Being a continuity virgin, I stuck rigorously to the outline initially, but after feedback decided that rather than try to fix what I’d been given, I really would make it my own. I enjoyed writing Tory’s story of self-discovery and connection with her dead twin. I know how I would feel if I ever lost a sibling, and I could only imagine it would be worse if that sibling were my twin. I also really liked the idea of turning a committed playboy on his head by throwing him into fatherhood – then, just as he was settling into his new role, whipping the rug out from beneath his feet. Poor Ben, he had a real roller-coaster ride.

Can I just say that doing the Caribbean research for this book was heaven on a stick? So, so beautiful. It’s definitely on my hit list for future holidays now. As soon as I can fit back into my bikini…!!

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