Only six? errr… okay. Not one to turn up my nose at a challenge, here goes!
1. Jake Vance - I based Jake, my hero, on David Boreanaz’s character Seeley Booth in Bones (any excuse to drool and overdose on Series 2 Same broody stare, same high intelligence, same deep-set convictions. To get more into Jake’s character, I also read The Modern Machiavelli by Ian Demack and took copious notes.
When his long fingers wrapped around hers, Holly’s skin heated with the contact. It wasn’t power he so clearly exuded. It was something much more seductive. Confidence? Control?
The way his sharp green gaze swept her from head to toe, taking in her hair, her face, her business suit. The way those eyes probed hers until they finally came to rest on the small diamond solitaire at her throat.
It was exciting coming up with Jake’s backstory. I was thrilled to get everyone’s “yay!” when I suggested the kidnapped baby scenario. It gave me lots of wonderful conflict for Jake, complete with a chequered youth and that whole “I’ll never be like my father” thing, too.
2. Holly McLeod - The picture inspiration for Holly came from an unnamed model on the Ezibuy site. Holly was a tough one, because I obviously needed someone attractive (especially to Jake!) but not too attractive.
Jake snapped his eyes up to meet hers and it hit him again. It wasn’t the curve of her lips, nor the way her blue eyes tilted up at the corners. It was the tiny birthmark on the left side of her mouth, like some artist had painted it on to tease and tempt. To focus a man’s attention.
A prime kissing target.
My 7 yo son gave me the name of Holly’s home town – Kissy Oak. It’s his mispronunciation of the word ‘kiosk’. After we laughed ourselves silly, I told him I had to use it in a book some time. And boy, was he tickled to see that in print!
And without Holly, there wouldn’t be Max Carlton, a guy I modeled on the gorgeous Jude Law. Same golden face, same charming smile. But still a bastard
It was those innocent choirboy looks, complete with a mop of golden curls that made Max Carlton such a hit. The men liked him for his after-hours drinks and blokey talk about football and women. The women were flattered by his charm and good looks. And to her surprise, there’d been a spark of interest despite the unofficial gossip. He was an attractive smooth-talker and everyone knew it, especially Max Carlton.
I had a lot of fun writing Max’s scenes with Holly – I love writing dialog and the conflict it causes. And it was great to have a villian who was actually on the page and not dead LOL.
3. Nip, tuck.. cut! – BOARDROOMS was originally called Return of the Bad Boy Billionaire. In fact, every DDU story was called something different. But when Senior Editor Melissa Jeglinksi brainstormed, she came up with six gorgeous titles that tied in with the themes perfectly.
Speaking of cutting… I have a tendency to write looong, so it came as no surprise I had to cut a few things My story originally started with an editorial-style article that appeared in a daily newspaper:
The Blackstone Baby: will we ever really know? - editorial comment by Dash Morgan
With only three months to go before Howard Blackstone’s six-month will stipulation expires, we are no closer to discovering the identity of the missing Blackstone heir.
For those who’ve been living under a rock, heir-to-be James Hammond Blackstone was just two years old when he went missing from his multi-million dollar Vaucluse home in November 1976. After both parents were cleared of foul play, the police investigation focused on their housekeeper. Of course, after the ransom note, nothing more was heard until the discovery five days later, when two bodies in a car at the bottom of Lindon River, five kilometres north of Newcastle were identified as the missing housekeeper and her convicted criminal boyfriend. The police concluded that James Blackstone’s body had floated out to sea, a finding that Howard Blackstone refused to acknowledge: after his plane crash and subsequent will reading this past February, it was revealed that the billion dollar gemstone king had been funding a thirty-two year private investigation to recover his son’s whereabouts.
Now, with MacNamara Investigations – the PI group who have apparently discovered a “promising lead” – remaining tight-lipped on the topic, I have to wonder… we will ever know what happened to the Blackstone baby?
The last tragedy to grip and polarize public opinion this tightly was Azaria Chamberlain. And we know how that ended up. Like the Chamberlains, the Blackstones have been tried by public opinion and are either baby killers or victims of tragic circumstance. It’s hard to argue what we already know – suicide, family infighting, mistresses, vendettas and boardroom battles are just another day in the life of a Blackstone. But is it a family blessed by extraordinary wealth… or cursed by it?
Either way, like Azaria, too much time’s passed and the story has moved into urban legend folklore. And of course, it’s brought out the pond scum, those claiming to know the whereabouts of James Blackstone, demanding their fifteen minutes and payment before their hoax is revealed.
Let’s not forget a baby disappeared. It’s a tragedy for any parent to live through. But I’m betting that after August, the Blackstone Baby will be chalked up in Australia’s history under the heading “We’ll Just Never Know.”
I managed to do the rest of the cutting (all 30 pages of it!), keeping the important bits and sprinkling them into the rest of the story. Strangely, I have a love-hate relationship for the story at this stage Michelangelo puts it best when he said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
4. The Dresses – Ahhh, dresses! I took guilty pleasure in researching the gowns everyone wears to the Blackstone Charity Ball. Holly’s dress is based on the glamorous print ad for Givenchy’s Organza parfum. I’ve had the picture for years and was excited I could finally use it in a book!
He was staring out the kitchen window, at a glittery cruise ship in the harbour when he sensed Holly behind him. Then he turned and all brooding thoughts fizzled from his brain.She was dressed in a white clingy creation, the vertical pleats emphasizing the gentle curves of her body. With her hair pulled high and back, curls cascading over her shoulders, she looked like some Egyptian goddess. The gauzy material draped across her breasts almost lovingly, and it was held up by small shoestring straps, leaving her arms bare. Beneath his unabashed staring, goosebumps spread over her skin.
“Is my dress okay?” She nervously tugged at the neckline, tweaking the fabric into place.
“You’re more than okay.” Amazingly, after everything they’d done together, after every body part he’d teased, kissed and caressed, she blushed. He’d never get tired of seeing her blush.
Of course, I consulted Bronwyn, Tessa, Yvonne and Maxine to find out what the other women (and men!) would wear. Briana was sexy in red (picture found at a prom dress site), Kim elegant in a strapless black creation (this photo is from a vintage site), and Jessica pregnant and glowing in a silver halterneck.
5. Blackstone’s Head Office – Research (aka surfing the ‘net) is the best part of a story! I used my artistic license and removed the Sydney Hilton from it’s George/Pitt Street location and plonked Blackstone’s right there in the center instead. The location is prime real estate with a squillion shops – from the Pitt Street Mall, Centrepoint Tower and Queen Victoria Building – just a stone’s throw away. My favorite is the beautiful historic Strand Arcade. Opened in 1891, it was the last Sydney arcade to open and the only one to still remain in original form. It’s full of elegant jewellery stores, milliners, one-off designer gear and coffee shops ::::sigh:::
Okay, back to Blackstone’s! Here’s a shot of the interior:
Originally, I had an interior description when Jake first fronts up in the foyer, but that was eventually cut. Here’s what didn’t make it into the book:
Jake strode across the foyer of Blackstones Diamonds, ignoring the lush, expensive fittings. He barely glanced at the Tom Bass bronze sculpture that took center place on the polished marble floor, the smooth dip and flow of modern lines doing nothing to calm his tightly wound tension.
The security desk lay dead ahead, but it wasn’t the young guy behind it who captured his attention. It was the woman.
6. Holly and Jake’s apartments – I studiously trolled many real estate sites, imagining the kind of places Holly and Jake would live. I even went into the city and took a walk around, picturing myself in Holly’s shoes. For Jake’s place, there was no contest – Sydney Wharf is a brand-new harbourside development and an obvious choice for a man who has it all. Here’s a shot (left) of what I imagined Jake’s apartment looks like inside…
Holly is fortunate enough to have a room mate (the mysteriously exotic Miko Tarasai… I get the feeling she’ll want her own story one day!) whose parents own the apartment she lives in. Like many people in real life (myself included!) Holly started off with one career in mind, but instead just ‘fell’ into another – in her case, she wanted to study interior design but ended up at Blackstone’s. However, she still gets to call on her creative energies - here’s what she did with her apartment.
The whole concept of DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER was as thrilling as it was scary. But having five other authors I personally know and (still!) love working with me, the whole writing process was a lot less insular and a heap more fun. Truly, I have the best job in the world!
Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir is now available at Amazon and as an e-book from eHarlequin. Check out Paula’s website for more behind-the-scenes info. And remember to post a message if you want to be in the running for a gorgeous diamond keyring!