For the longest time, I resisted the concept of working on multiple storylines at once. Between a rather demanding full-time work, maintaining my relationship with my darling husband and some social life (including spending a considerable time with my husband’s family), working on more than one project is the surest, fastest way for me to go crazy and run for the hills.
‘But what about those stories forming inside your head, begging and competing to be told?’, I hear you ask. Well, for the longest time, my simple answer would be to ‘keep it inside my head for later’. Some days it would go away quietly, waiting patiently until I finish my current manuscript and can move on to the next story. Other days, like a petulant child throwing a full-blown tantrum, it would get louder and louder inside my head I had to find ways to put it down on paper; more often than not, these sections have had to be morphed to suit the current manuscript I’m working on. Don’t worry… no zombies/dragons/trolls will jump out in the middle of my young adult/romance novels
About three months ago, I had this overwhelming, irrepressible desire to write another Medieval story. It’s a completely different era than the modern, YA and adult fiction I dabble in since I completed Eleanor I and Eleanor II. It was a much simpler times (in terms of lack of technology/electricity), but in a lot of respect it was also a much harsher times; you had to work quadruple times as hard in the fields, food preparations and cooking took at least twice as long, and jostling through dirt and gravelled roads was both uncomfortable and time-consuming.
The one thing that interested me most about this era though is the fact that it’s a male-oriented world; they dominate everything, from land to women. They think that they could treat the latter the way they plough, trade and sell properties, with very little regards to their feelings. And as a fierce supporter of equal rights between men and women, the very core of my medieval romance novels tackle the issue of challenging the status quo, depicting brave young women who strive for a better, more just future.
Not wanting to give in to the developing Medieval story, I channeled all my focus to try finish Evelyn. But the story remained inside my head, insisting to be told. It grew and expanded so strongly that by the time I gave in and decided to write it down (otherwise I would have gone crazy from having too many storylines crammed in my mind), I no longer need my trusty pen and paper. And shy of 30,000 words later, I still haven’t written a single word on paper; it’s all straight from my mind to the computer.
So this is a story about Isabelle, a once rather indulgent Princess who believes that she will marry a Prince of a neighbouring Kingdom, only to find out that her father has arranged for her to marry a man twice her age. She defies her father; a defiance that carries near-fatal consequences for her. This is also a story about Sofia, an eighteen-year-old peasant whom, under duress, ends up marrying the man Isabelle was supposed to marry, and has the courage to flee from her abusive husband.
This isn’t the opening chapter or anything, but since I don’t work in a linear process whatsoever, this is the first page as it currently stands.
There was something strangely familiar about the young woman he found looking out from the window of the Great Hall, her back turned to him, a forefinger running up and down the curve of one cheek.
“I beg your pardon…”
His heart leapt to his throat. Firstly, because his greeting had evoked a frightful shriek from the woman. And secondly, because having turned around to face the intruder, Eldridge found himself standing face-to-face with Isabelle Morietta.
Isabelle Valrington, Eldridge’s conscience corrected him sternly. And why wouldn’t she be here?
Looking as dumbfounded as he must be, Isabelle’s mouth parted and moved, producing no sound. He thought he could see her sway the like of fragile tree branches being buoyed by a passing breeze, undecided whether to run and hug him.
She bobbed her head down and genuflected instead, spreading the wide pleated skirt of her dress as was customary to (Kingdom yet to be named). “Your Highness,” Isabelle murmured almost inaudibly.
At the same time, Eldridge remembered his manners and reciprocated, folding his body in an almost theatrical bow. “Princess Isabelle.” Eldridge slowly drew himself up, searching for her eyes. “My condolences over your Father’s passing.”
He cocked his head on a slight angle to see Isabelle pursed her lips grimly. Even knowing that there wasn’t that much love lost between a disciplinarian Father and a free-spirited daughter, Eldridge never thought that Isabelle was incapable of mourning over her Father’s death.
“How are you faring… Isabelle?” He asked gently.
She regarded him as though she had never heard such a question before. “I’m… faring quite well, Your Highness. Thank you.”
“And… Lord Valrington?” Eldridge pressed on further before she could enquire about his own well-being.
A dark veil hooded her hazel eyes. Isabelle compressed her lips tightly, nose flaring. “Last time I heard,” she replied through gritted teeth, “he was expanding his estate.”
The clear disgust in her voice startled him. “Last time you heard…” he repeated, mulling the words over. “What…”