This week, I started work on a new book (up to page 22 now!). It’s the third of what I call my “Renaissance Trilogy,” which started with A Notorious Woman and continues with A Sinful Alliance in April (the story of Nicolai Ostrovsky). This 3rd, unnamed book, is Balthazar Grattiano’s story, and takes place mostly in the Caribbean in the 1530s. I’m hoping that imagining warm islands and sandy beaches will help me through the cold, gray winter days!

This first part of a book, the first step, Chapter One, is very exciting. All those blank pages–anything can happen! It’s also very, very scary. All those blank pages–disaster can happen. Like the first day of a long-planned, much-anticipated vacation. For this book, hopefully I’m fortified by lots of research (including the trip to visit Diane in Virginia last summer!), and by the feeling that I know the characters very well. They’ll usually show me where they want to go.

Every writer starts a story in a different way, I’m sure, but mine always seem to start with a character. Sometimes the hero, sometimes the heroine. Then I have to find them a story, a frame, and their right match. These 3 stories happened to start with heroes (2 of them heroes I never intended to write a story for, until they insisted!). But their heroines came to me vividly soon after. In Notorious Woman, there’s Marc the ship’s captain and Julietta the perfumer, both with secrets to hide; in A Sinful Alliance, Nicolai the actor and spy, and Marguerite–well, she’s a spy, too. She tries to kill him in a Venetian brothel, and then they meet again a year later at the court of Henry VIII! Balthazar, the pseudo-villain of ANW, is now seeking to redeem himself in the New World, until he meets tavern owner Bianca, a woman he may have wronged in his misspent youth…

As you can tell, I really like characters with Secrets, with a dark side they must overcome through the power of love and self-realization. I often like characters who are “outsiders” in some way, who march to their own beat despite what society might expect. Characters who are–risky, I guess. Sometimes they’re harder to get to know, but they always take me to such interesting places. Both as a writer and a reader. (BTW, Elizabeth Mahon, a frequent RR visitor, has a great blog about such real-life historical “characters” at Scandalous Women)

This particular journey, with these characters, is just starting. Wish me luck.

Who are some of your favorite characters???

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