Guest blogger: Beverley Eikli
If every writer applied the ‘write what you know’ advice, there’d be no time travels and science fiction and I wouldn’t be writing Regency romance.
Of course, writers renowned for creating settings that are so evocative one can almost taste the salt in the air probably are writing about the here and now: a place they know well.
But for other writers, the ‘write what you know’ might be an emotion with which they are very familiar, or a universal theme.
It took me many books to realise that I write to a repeated theme: redemption.
Regardless of whether I’ve written a Regency, Victorian or Georgian-era romance, an intrigue-filled romantic series, or an historical romantic suspense, redemption is always the key theme.
I never set out to write redemptive stories. I’m not a plotter with a clear end in sight. For me, the joy of writing is being taken on a ride by my characters. My starting point is an intriguing set-up and I go from there. Then, in the final edit—which is when I explore major themes to strengthen the story—I inevitably groan: ‘Not another redemption story!’
So why am I constantly searching for redemption for my flawed characters?
Was I a great burden to my mother who died before I could say, ‘Now that I’ve had my own kids, I “get it” and you deserve a medal, Mum?’
Was it the boyfriend I dumped to whom I gave no warning beforehand that anything was wrong? (Twenty years later I still feel guilty.)
What bad thing did I once do that has fuelled this perpetual need to find redemption? Or is it more broad than that?
A few days ago my latest suspense-filled Regency Romance ‘The Glittering Prize’ was released as one of six novellas/novels in A Very Wicked Christmas anthology.
‘Aha!’ I’d thought in the final analysis when delving into its overriding theme before sending it to the editor. ‘I’ve broken free. This is the first book where my flawed heroine doesn’t need to be redeemed. Jemima is pure of heart; a good girl; the professor’s devoted daughter, helping him decipher a code that will lead them to a valuable and ancient artefact.’
Then I realised that while this book was a great departure from my favourite ‘flawed heroine in need of redemption’ theme, redemption was, again, the main theme.
This time, it was my loose-living rakish hero, Digby, who desperately needed redemption. (Some readers might condemn Jemima for becoming a courtesan, however as she’s ended up as a rich man’s mistress to save her life I don’t consider that a deliberate act requiring redemption.)
Digby, who’s never had any responsibility as a younger brother, is my flawed character in need of redemption. When he makes his appearance in ‘The Glittering Prize’ he’s eaten up with guilt for the fact he failed to discharge his older brother’s dying wish.
Little does he know that the virtuous young woman his brother died trying to save is in fact the very woman he is lusting after—his rival’s latest mistress, Jemima.
‘The Glittering Prize’ is not a conventional romance. The heroine has more than one lover and there’s a suspenseful game of ‘cat and mouse’ between Jemima and the men in her life—including her would-be murderer.
While it wasn’t obvious to me in writing the book, the theme of redemption is quite obvious.
Perhaps, one day, someone will point out what I’m too close to see: my very own obvious-to-everyone-else flaw that is the source and which drives me to write novel after novel about redemption.
I’d really love to know what it is.
Beverley Eikli writes slow-boil historical romances laced with intrigue, often with a thriller ending. Sorting out the trials and tribulations of her bold, flawed, heroines keeps her up late most nights, however a husband who is her real-life hero, and two gorgeous daughters, help keep her grounded.
A valuable treasure, a lost maiden pursued by a murderer, and a remorse-filled rake who’s failed to discharge his brother’s final wish…
These are the ingredients which underpin the first meeting between the hero and heroine of ‘The Glittering Prize’ about a resourceful blue-stocking who finds love where she least expect it.