I didn’t set out to write a two-part story, but the moment I typed Charlie’s dramatic ending, it was inevitable. It was obvious as soon as I thought about it. This was an opportunity for something a bit special. If I was desperate to find out about Joanna, I knew that the reader would be as well. The advantage for me was that I already knew the characters. The second that Audrey came into the scene, I could see her standing there. I knew exactly how she would react upon meeting Joanna; I just knew she would say “Oh my goodness!” The same applied to the others, and I have to confess, Dear Reader, almost from the start of her story I knew I had you hooked!
Another huge advantage came with Joanna, because we already know the background to her story. She doesn’t so much walk off the page as burst out of it. I made a conscious decision to maintain that pace throughout the book. The story moves along at speed, and all the way through there is another emotional high or low to contend with. It’s true that I set out from the start to play with your emotions, but I must admit, Dear Reader, it worked the other way as well. There were days when she left me emotionally drained!
Molly was the new character who just felt as if she had been there all along. As a man, I initially found their mother-and-daughter interactions difficult. I wasn’t sure if I could step into a woman’s shoes (not those high heels of Joanna’s!) I was hesitant about taking on that role. I went even further out of my comfort-zone by dipping a toe into the world of fashion. Having a wife involved with the Costume Society might help explain that! However, after a while, I came to realise that the raw emotions are the same, regardless of gender. From that point of view, I am pleased with the result, and especially the Molly/Joanna relationship; I feel that’s a very important part of the story. I would love to know your opinion.
As for the character herself, Joanna has it all; she is in all ways the “Queen of Washington”. Not only that, she’s ageless. On the other hand, she is determined to the point of ruthlessness and, let’s face it, she has her flaws. The strapline on the book cover says, “She will break your heart, but you will forgive her”. I think that sums her up precisely. She’s a difficult character for me to leave behind. If she affects you, Dear Reader, like she did me, then I have succeeded in my task!