Dani Collins on Being Home and Her Debut Novel, “No Longer Forbidden?”
I’m writing this the day after arriving home from visiting family and friends over the Christmas break. It was wonderful seeing everyone, but it always feels good to sleep in your own bed, doesn’t it?
Sitting in my slant-ceilinged attic office, (feels good to write at my own desk, too!) I was thinking about the comforts of being home as I started this, my first blog as a published author with Harlequin Mills & Boon.
I always knew that I wanted to write for Presents and about this time last year, I was working on what would eventually be my debut book, No Longer Forbidden?, published this month as a Mills & Boon Modern. (Not available in paperback in N America).
I’d been working with the wonderful editors in London since I was named a runner-up in their Instant Seduction contest in 2008 and had just received the advice that would take this story to publication.
Based on the opening chapters I’d sent in, they suggested I drop some extraneous plot elements and isolate the hero and heroine: “It is here, in Rosedale, on the island, that Nic and Rowan can play out all the tricky, painful and confused feelings of the past on the page;”
Prior to this advice, I had a terrible penchant for throwing in extra characters when I got stuck so this suggestion paralyzed me. What can happen when two people are alone in a big house and hate each other too much to speak to one another?
I started by getting them there. Rowan wrote Nic a characteristically cheeky note that prompts Nic to confront her. She arrives on the island and walks from the ferry to the house, taking in her beloved home from a hilltop.
Here I stalled. What does Rosedale look like? My first instinct was a sprawling, columned mansion, but I’m a homebody. Our Canadian climate forces us to live inside thick walls for a good portion of the year. A boxy, two-story, peaked roof with a gable or patio for summer barbeques says ‘home’ to me. And who doesn’t sigh with homecoming when they see a cozy English country house with moss on the roof?
No moss in the Med, I’m afraid, but I thought the house should look something like what Rowan and her Irish mother were used to. Something like this:
So I made Rosedale a bit of an anomaly. Its architecture had the added benefit of irritating Nic. It didn’t fit with his vision, made him feel claustrophobic, and was a monument to his father’s indulgence of his mistress, Rowan’s mother, Cassandra.
For Rowan, it was the first and only proper
home her actress mother had ever provided for her. When she learns Nic not only wants to expel her from it, but tear it down, she’s appalled.
But her mother is dead along with Nic’s father. She has no claim on the house and Nic gives her a sparse fortnight to pack up her life and get out of it.
Suddenly these two had lots to talk about. The unacknowledged attraction between them adds combustion to the already volatile combination of history and loss and conflicting ideals.
With the focus firmly on Nic and Rowan, I finished the story and in May of last year, Megan Haslam called to offer me a contract for it. I was thrilled to make my first sale, but doubly so because it meant this story would be
shared with you, actual readers.
As the release date drew near, I couldn’t resist revisiting Nic and Rowan by writing out their first kiss, which is only referenced in the book. Whether you’ve already read their story or just want a teaser to see if No Longer Forbidden? is your cup of tea, you can pop onto my website to read The Kiss That Changed Everything.
I feel like I’ve found my ‘home’ writing for Mills & Boon and can’t wait to bring you more stories in future. Where is your home? What says ‘home’ to you?