Where Did the Idea for The Devil and Miss Jones Come From? by Kate Walker
It’s that classic question – the one that every author gets used to being asked as soon as some one finds out that she writes for a living. There’s always one thing they want to know. And that is:
Where do you get your ideas from?
Most of the time, I answer this with something vague and general – Life is full of ideas, I say. Or I read the papers, magazines. Mostly I just say ‘I have a very vivid imagination.’
But sometimes I know exactly what sparks off a story , the inspiration behind it, and maybe even an image that will start me thinking. It was like this with The Devil and Miss Jones. I was looking through a magazine and I found a fashion story that was full of dresses for special occasions – the magazine was the Christmas edition so it was full of clothes to wear to the holiday parties. There was one particular image that caught my imagination.
It was of a couple on a motorbike, roaring away down a deserted road, in a wintery landscape. The male model – dressed in a Santa Claus outfit was driving the bike, his head turned away from the camera, and the girl was riding pillion in a long white dress that swirled in the wind as they went. She was also waving a beautiful, sparkling tiara in the air as if she was about to throw it away.
I tore that picture out of the magazine and kept it, knowing that one day there would be a story to fit it. But bits of it just didn’t work – an alpha Presents hero in a Santa suit? The ball gown wasn’t quite right either. But eventually I saw that it was the mood of the picture that I wanted – the rather wild, reckless tone of the image – the fact that they were dashing away from something rather than heading somewhere in particular. And that long white dress looked more like a bridal outfit the more I looked at it.
So what were these characters leaving behind? Why were they – a mixed and incongruous couple – even together? I couldn’t see the man/my hero’s face, so what was he hiding from? Why was the girl looking so happy – so relieved to be getting away from whatever was behind her? And why was she about to throw that beautiful tiara away in a wild, determined gesture of freedom?
And then came the moment that was pure inspiration, the title that came from nowhere. The Devil and Miss Jones. No, I can’t say how I thought that one up – it just came to me. But as soon as it did I connected it up with the picture. And when I added that into the mixture, I knew I had my story. So that title, The Devil and Miss Jones was my own working title for this story, the one that gave me the right mood and atmosphere for the book. When I sent in this novel I decided to share with my editor the title that had kept me on the storyline I had planned – The Devil and Miss Jones – and luckily for me she loved it and wanted to use it when the book was officially published. And it’s been attracting attention ever since. Everyone seems to want to know where that title came from – and that’s the bit I don’t really know!
One of the reasons why I called this book The Devil and Miss Jones is because those are the names my hero and heroine give each other when they first meet. They don’t use their real names but these aliases, names they are hiding behind, each for their own very personal reasons. Both are at as crossroads in their lives. Neither of them really know who they are right now – and where they go from here. They know what they are leaving behind – the unhappiness and the memories they want to get away from but they’re not ready to admit those to anyone. And neither of them is prepared to reveal their true self to someone they have only just met. Besides, Diablo/Devil and Miss Jones are the people they used to be – the people they are leaving behind and the person that will change so very much as a result of meeting the other one.
So The Devil and Miss Jones is how they introduce themselves – and the Devil and Miss Jones – and who they become – is the theme of the story. So I hope you can see why I was so thrilled to be able to use this title for the published book.
So I was wondering – what sort of titles will intrigue you? What makes you want to pick up a book and learn more about it? What have been some of the best titles you’ve ever seen for a novel – or do you have a favourite title of all time. (I have to admit to loving quite a few – Wuthering Heights, Game of Kings, The Moonspinners…)
Tell me about the titles that pull you in and make you want to read the book. Everyone who posts a comment will be entered into the draw for my prize giveaway. I have a copy of The Devil and Miss Jones to give away to one lucky poster. My cat – Charlie the Maine Coon – will pick the winner.