It's finally my turn. After standing on the sidelines, cheering on the other "Continuistas", it's my book in the "Silk and Scandal" series out on the shelves.
It's been a unique experience for me. Normally, writing a book is a very solitary occupation, but taking part in the creation of this continuity series has been a team event - right from the moment the editors introduced us to each other, and we started brainstorming.
With three authors living in the States, and three in the UK, we did think it would be a good idea to get together in a sort of training camp, like most participants in team events do (Antigua was our favoured destination!). But in the end, we had to content ourselves with a Yahoo group, and go through our "warming up" period in cyberspace.
Once we got our green light from editorial, and began writing, we had to constantly check and double check with each other, to make sure nobody went haring off in the wrong direction. Normally, we wouldn't have to consider how what we write might impinge on another writer's creation, but during this project we all had to watch that a careless phrase or inaccurate description did not cause any other team member to trip up.
Though this might sound proscriptive, actually, this stage of the process was a real blast. I couldn't wait to open up my inbox each day. The other ladies gave encouragement, advice, brilliant ideas as to how to solve plot points, and most of all, displayed a sense of humour that kept us all going as we faced every new hurdle.
We chatted constantly about the characters we were creating, their backgrounds, settings - well, absolutely everything - so that by the time we had all finished, I felt as though I had not just written one book, but taken part in the creation of all eight in the series.
But now the time for public scrutiny of my own story has come, and I feel a bit like a runner in a relay race, waiting to grab the baton, and run my section of the race. So far, the earlier contributors to the series have done a fantastic job of giving clues, introducing key characters, and furthering the overarching story with each successive episode.
To continue the relay race metaphor - Gayle Wilson has handed over to me with great aplomb, hinting at an English half sister for the gypsy leader, Stephano...
That English half sister turns out to be Imogen Hebden, the heroine of my own story. Her father was Kit Hebden, whose murder in 1794 ripped apart the three families whose stories unfold throughout the "Silk and Scandal" series.
Not only do I want to run my part in the race with efficiency, I am also deperately hoping I don't fumble the baton. I want to be able to hand on the story, in good order, to Margaret McPhee, who will be telling the sixth installment of the continuity series. I know she will run her stage with grace and style - I've read her work before, and trust completely in her writing ability.
But...what will the readers make of my Imogen....