The genesis of a novel is often a tale in its own right, a story of when and where inspiration struck, and the who and what that filled in the landscape. As for the how and why, they follow in the blazing path of that moment when the muse strikes and you know this story has chosen you. They are the blood, sweat and occasional tears we pay for the gift of a story.
So JM invited me to talk about the genesis of my new release, Engaging the Enemy.
Let me set the scene for you: I’m on my first proper visit to Melbourne and taking my first tram ride. Between my husband, my daughter and me, we can’t find the right change (this is pre-compulsory travel cards). While they sift through coins and shake their heads, I gaze out the window. A red brick building, abandoned and apparently unloved, passes across my view but lodges in my mind. It won’t budge and suddenly I’ve created people who love it, people prepared to fight over it, cherish and preserve it. In a flash, the premise of what became Engaging the Enemy was born.
One building, two would-be owners and a feud handed down the generations.
Andy (Andrea de Villiers) fights to keep The Shelter for abused women and children open until their council approval comes through but the building has been sold out from under them to charming Irish developer, Matt Mahoney who wants immediate vacant access. They reach reluctant compromise before a past neither knew about threatens to tear them apart in ways neither could have foreseen.
Melbourne is a wonderful city, elegant and refined but with a vibrant focus on the arts. The CBD is filled with lanes and alleyways in which surprising gems of its architectural past hide and the powers-that-be work hard to preserve the city’s heritage. I learned much about heritage buildings and council codes during my research for this story.
We’ve been involved in our own battles to preserve heritage sites in my home town and the battle for this lonely red brick building struck a chord with me.
I drafted half the story in the month before my husband and I left for Italy (there’s a whole other story in that too—no, really! That’s when One Night in Sorrento came into being!) and sent it off to Escape Publishing. I’m thrilled to say it releases on 1 August which just happens to be my husband’s birthday!
I absolutely love first meetings and these are often the first thing I discover about a new story. To me, they set the tone and the relationship between the protagonists.
Here’s the opening scene from Engaging the Enemy:
Andrea de Villiers couldn’t have orchestrated the accident better if she’d planned for a year instead of just one night.
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were almost finished as she edged closer to the group of Melbourne’s wealthy charity patrons and supporters and lined up her tray of drinks with Matt Mahoney’s chest.
One second to launch.
She took a deep, steadying breath and stepped forward.
His blonde companion’s arms drew a giant circle in the air, collided with the edge of her tray and Mr. Mahoney, corporate developer and all round jerk, was instantly wearing expensive champagne as an accessory to his Armani dinner jacket.
Round one to Andie.
Served him right for refusing to meet her. He brushed futilely at his shiny lapels and a thrill raced through her.
I did it.
Andie-never-puts-a-foot-wrong-de Villiers had done the unthinkable. If only she could tell him who she was, her triumph would have been complete.
Engaging the Enemy is available at all good e-tailers, including:
You can find me at:
Many thanks to JM for hosting me.
I’d love to know—what is your favourite real or fictional first meeting?