When the ladies asked for people to leap in and grab days for Flashback Friday posts I stuck my hand in the air and did the internet equivalent of "Pick me! Pick me!" because that's the kind of keener I am. Right from nursery school. My mom wishes I was kidding.
I didn't have the faintest idea which book I was going to flashback on, however. My back catalogue is large-ish and there are some personal favourites from back in the day. Shady Ridge and the Neon Sky got a good think, as did my two darlings, Merge and Converge which never really found a home out there in the wild. Gemini is a big crowd pleaser, judging by the e-mail I still get about it. But when I glanced over my pages at Torquere Books I knew without a doubt which story I was going to bring back to light here.
I began writing An Agreement Among Gentlemen as a NaNoWriMo project, but stopped after I'd reached the fifty thousand words mark at three weeks due to what became bronchitis and pneumonia. Then the holidays happened, and travel and family, and it was February before I looked at it again. I'd had a vague idea of it being pretty good in terms of doing what I wanted it to do, so I wasn't terribly worried when I started my read-through to get the voice back and finish it off.
Usually I'm completely a character driven writer. I find a job, find the guy, wait for him to give me a name, and toss him into trouble. Then I take notes. AAAG is a mystery of sorts, however, and had specific plot points that had to come in order and at certain times. It's not whodunnit, but the blackmail plot had to be done with care and the romance flying around had to fit in with assorted locations. It was also a Victorian setting, so I'd spent a lot of time researching and having many, many conversations with English friends and having maps sent to me. I sourced a lot of words etymology -- which, wow is fun. Love it. -- and I got as correct as I could. I had to change a few names around in edits, which always feels weird but I think it worked out for the best.
I'd set out prepared to write a lovely historical romance agains a backdrop of intrigue. Then the third guy showed up without prior notice and things got complicated. I didn't set out to write a threesome, but sometimes these things just happen. I did what I always do -- rolled with it. Then I got sick, hit the word count (in that order. Of course.), and took several months off.
The day I picked it up was one of those amazing February days we sometimes get on the east coast. It was mild, only ten below zero celsius or so, and there was a light snow falling (under a foot accumulated). The children were at school, so I made a pot of tea and curled up under a blanket and started reading the hard copy, redlining as I went. As I said above, I was pretty sure it was an okay story and all I needed to do was find the voice and finish the first draft up so I could start the "make it good" version.
I was not prepared to be upset at the last printed page. I was not prepared to blink rapidly and find myself in a different place and time, and wonder what the heck happened next. I had been sucked into my own story so completely that I'd forgotten where I was, and that the rest of the story was still in me.
That's the sign of a good story, if you ask me. If you can lose yourself in it, let go of a couple hours and drift into the book and its place, that's a good story. And if you happened to write it, that feeling makes you smile for days -- years -- after.
An Agreement Among Gentlemen is available at Torquere Books and in print at Amazon.