How To Be a Proper Lady: Author’s Note
Characters often tell me to write their stories.
I am completely serious.
Some are subtle, just showing up on the page of another hero or heroine’s book and waiting for me to notice them. Others don’t take chances, peeking out from behind a door and throwing me a Meaningful Look. All of them are respectful, waiting until I’m able to turn to their stories fully.
Then there are the characters that insist.
Like Jinan Seton.
I had just begun writing Captured by a Rogue Lord, and was happily getting to know the hero of that novel — Lord Alex Savege, aka the pirate captain Redstone — when Jin appeared on deck and spoke to his captain. Then Jin spoke to me. Directly. That is, he stepped out from beneath my fingertips, came to stand proudly and powerfully (not to mention really handsomely) at my shoulder, and said in no uncertain terms, “Write my story.”
Flabbergasted (I mean, I was only on chapter one of another hero’s book), I said, “Um… well… okay? But I’ve got a few other books to write first.”
He replied, “Give me the woman of my dreams.”
Short on words, long on confidence, this sailor.
With a bit of affront, I replied, “Of course!” Because every perfect hero deserves his perfect heroine. And I was already beginning to suspect that Jin might indeed be a perfect hero.
This assurance, however, did not satisfy him.
“Who will she be?” he demanded.
Not particularly patient either, this ex-pirate I was swiftly coming to love. For you see, as under Jin’s sea-hawk eyes my fingers continued to fly, on the page he was now insisting to his captain that the ship needed cleaning and the men needed rest and that Alex himself needed to wake up and care for the people of his estate, including his family. And in these precious moments I was learning that Jin Seton — a man with no family, no estate, no ship of his own — was a man with a mission to do good, always good, despite the horrors of his past.
“Trust me,” I said, still typing away. “She’ll be perfect. Now I’ve got to get back to—”
My fingers halted.
I craned my neck and gave him hard stare for hard stare. “I don’t know yet. For pity’s sake, this is all very new. Give an author a day or two to get her bearings, will you?”
With a severe yet faintly regal bow of his head that warned he would hold me to that promise, he withdrew. But it turned out I didn’t need a few days. Within hours I knew. It was so obvious, so utterly right.
When I told Viola, aka Captain Violet la Vile, the news, her brow furrowed and then she replied in no uncertain terms, “I am already in love with someone else. I have been for years. I intend to marry him.”
Faced with such certainty, I had no immediate response. She was for Jin. I just knew she was for Jin. And just as surely I knew that Jin was for her.
I gaped at Viola, and a friend’s words from years earlier came to me, words tossed to me jokingly while were were taking a walk together. That day as we traipsed through the Carolina woods, I had been telling her about a boy I’d known decades ago, how he had teased and flirted endlessly till I’d believed I adored him, and had broken my young heart. Laughingly my friend had said, “You should write him as a villain in a novel.”
As I stood there looking into Viola’s earnest and entirely doubt-free face, I thought to myself, “Not villain. Rather, first love. Wrong love.” A hopeful young girl cursed with the cavalier affections of a false Romeo deserves in womanhood a man who will love her so deeply, so powerfully, so profoundly that he will sacrifice everything for her.
Aloud to Viola I said, “Okay, good to know, thanks.” She was definite, after all, and I suspected I’d have to let her discover her mistake the hard way.
I never needed to tell Jin my plan. He’d figured it out already, and approved. Guess that’s a pirate for you.