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When RT publisher Carol Stacy asked me to write a letter for this issue, she suggested that I share with you how I really feel about SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME.
I feel guilty. My impulse was to start this letter by explaining the reasons for the four-year lapse between books and then apologize. But I've just realized something: I'm not sorry it took four years before I could come up with a book like SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME. How can I possibly be sorry about something that I am so incredibly proud of?
The truth is, I feel a sense of wonder that I was actually able to write this book.
One year ago, when I finally came up with this particular plot, I set very specific goals for the novel, and I found them very difficult to achieve. Individually, they would have been less formidable, but not in the combination I chose. I'll try to explain why
First, I wanted STWOM to be a riveting, full-fledged suspense novel.
I did not want the suspense aspect to be merely a beguiling framework for a romance, I wanted it to stand completely on its own merit. Writing a hard-edged
suspense novel is a definite challenge, but what made it an extremely difficult one was my second goal for this novel
My second goal was to write an intensely romantic novel.
That's difficult to accomplish on its own, but in combination with a hard-edged suspense plot with realistic, grown-up characters, it becomes much more challenging. Now, please don't confuse the phrase "intensely romantic" here with erotic. We have plenty of explicit sexuality within our genre, and I've contributed some of it. But for SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, I wanted scenes that were truly poignant, and I think I accomplished that.
My third, and last, goal for this novel was to populate it with primary and
secondary characters who would come to life and really mean something to readers.
Since characterizations and dialogue are the only facets of writing that come relatively easily to me, I didn't anticipate any unusual difficulty achieving this goal.
But then, neither did I anticipate that the hero of this book, once created, would instantly become so alive, and such a potent force on his own that I became almost in awe of him. I've been very proud of every one of my heroes, but this hero ishands downmy favorite hero of all my books.
There was one other thing I didn't expect to happen in this book: I didn't
anticipate that a secondary hero and heroine would suddenly evolve and take their place right alongside the primary hero and heroine. Sam Littleton and Mitchell McCord are two of the most memorable characters I've ever createdand two of the most romantic. They are the reason that the finished manuscript came in at 950 manuscript pages instead of 700. They are also the reason I missed the original publication date of December 26, 2002.
But I don't think anyone who reads STWOM will regret the delay (the on-sale date is February 18). To be completely frank, I wish it hadn't taken me three years to finally come up with the framework for STWOM. I wish it hadn't taken me a year to write it after that. I wish I was a better writer, and a faster writer.
But in the 20 years since my first novel was published, I have never released a manuscript that I didn't think was my very best possible work at the time. I have a drawer full of partial manuscripts that are perfectly publishable if I chose to finish them, but they aren't good enoughnot for me. And not for the women who pay for my books. That's just the way I feel. And it's the way I've always felt.
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