The question I’m asked most often is where I get my ideas from and the answer isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes it’s seeing a look passed between two people. Or hearing a snatch of music which makes your heart swell with emotion. And sometimes an idea is fired up by a story which someone tells you. That’s how my latest book TOO PROUD TO BE BOUGHT came about. I heard a tale about real hardship and a mother’s courage and I took that idea and turned it on its head – and that’s how Nikolai Komarov was born.
I’d never written a Russian hero before. I’d always been perfectly happy telling the stories of powerful Sheikhs or sexy Greeks and Italians. In fact, Nikolai didn’t look anything like my usual heroes and to be honest, I felt a little unfaithful when I became captivated by this cold oligarch with his glacial blue eyes and hair of beaten gold!
I wanted to capture the essence of a man who had known the sweeping and often stark beauty which is Russia. Who had been part of its often turbulent history. A man who had overcome all the odds to become a success — but whose heart, as a result — was like ice.
And then I had to think about what kind of woman would melt that heart – and Zara Evans raised her head and said, “Me, me!”. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Zara did her best to resist Nikolai because she knew that he was complicated. Trouble. Too hard. Too judgemental. Too damaged. Too…everything.
I confess that when I was writing the story, I was influenced by one of my favourite films of all time – a film which captures the Russia which lives in all our imaginations. You know I’m talking Dr. Zhivago here, don’t you? This film features a piece of music which makes me sigh with pleasure every time I hear it. It’s called Lara’s Theme.
So, if you want your own heartstrings to be unashamedly tugged, then why not click on the play button and lose yourself in the beautiful sound of the balalaika – along with some unforgettable images of Russia.
And tell me what piece of music makes you dissolve, like sugar in coffee?