Wednesday, September 9, 2015

J is for Jack

Paula’s hero in Fragrance of Violets chose his own name!

When I first started writing Fragrance of Violets, I had the vague outline of the story in my mind. Needless to say, that outline morphed into a different story by the time I finished, but I’m used to that happening now.

My heroine’s name was always Abigail, known as Abbey, but when I started the story, I didn’t know what to call the hero. As a stopgap measure, I decided to call him Jack, and thought I would probably change his name once I got to know him better. I wasn’t even madly keen on the name of Jack anyway.

So what happened? By the time I got to the second or third chapter, my hero with his ‘temporary’ name somehow became Jack. I’m still not sure how that happened, but there was no way I could change it. Any other name would have felt wrong.

Here’s Abbey’s first meeting with Jack (ten years after they had a huge fight and fall-out in their late teens, even though they’d been ‘best friends’ for years before that):

Reaching the car park, she did a quick u-turn so she was facing the main street again, and pulled up beside the shop. After she’d unlocked the side door and switched on the light, she returned to the car and opened the boot.
As she lifted out the first box, a voice startled her. “Do you need any help?”
She spun around in the direction of the voice. It was dark but she didn’t need to see him. Her mouth went dry and her hands tightened on the box. “No, thanks, I can manage.”
Jack Tremayne stepped into the dim light cast by one of the car park lamps. As her eyes adjusted, Abbey’s breath caught in her throat. His navy sweatshirt stretched across wide shoulders and a broad chest, and mid-blue jeans encased his slim hips and long legs. No longer a teenage boy, but a man whose compelling figure exuded strength and unequivocal masculinity. Her heart started to thud hard against her ribs.
“What are you doing here?” Resentment at her involuntary reaction to him lent an extra sharp tone to her voice.
He laughed, the deep rich laugh that still sounded so familiar. “I’m not psychic, I didn’t know you’d be getting out of your car right here and now. And I’m not a lurker either. I’ve been for a walk by the lake and was taking a short cut through the car park when you did your handbrake turn.”
“I did not do a—and I didn’t mean right here—I meant—”
Damn! So much for being polite and cool with him. Why on earth couldn’t she be a mature and self-assured twenty-seven year old, instead of stuttering like a gauche teenager? She steadied herself. “I meant, of course, why the hell have you come back to the village?”
“Welcome to Rusthwaite,” he said with amused irony.
“You aren’t welcome here. Not by me, not by anyone.”
He shrugged. “Maybe not, but I’m back, and I intend to stay.”
Shock bolted through her. “You’re staying?”
“Why not? It’s my home.”
“The home you betrayed.”
“That was eight years ago. People forget.”
As he took a few steps nearer, the light spilling from the shop doorway illuminated his face. His hair seemed to have darkened to the colour of damp sand and was brushed back instead of the tousled blond mop she remembered. A few stray strands escaped over his forehead, and her glance took in his handsome features—the blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the well-defined jaw, the perfectly shaped mouth, and the cleft above his chin.
A quiver rippled through her but she ignored it. “This village hasn’t forgotten. People here won’t ever forgive you.”
“What about you?” His eyes challenged her, forcing her to remember the night everything had gone wrong between them.
She returned his scrutiny with a defiant glare and tried to distance herself from the unwanted sensations that threatened to destroy her composure. “I don’t think you and I have anything further to say to each other, so if you’ll excuse me, I need to unload this stock.”
“Are you sure I can’t help?”
“Absolutely sure.”
She turned away and took the box into the shop. When she stepped outside again, he’d gone. She stared through the darkness toward the main street, but he’d obviously walked quickly. There was no-one there.
For the next few minutes, she concentrated on carrying the boxes into the storeroom and stacking them tidily, ready to be unpacked the next morning. Only when she put down the last box did she realise she was shaking.
Meeting Jack Tremayne again had catapulted all her feelings into total disarray.

I’m currently editing/revising Fragrance of Violets for re-publication. Hopefully, it will be available again later this year.

The title comes from a quote by Mark Twain: Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers. Ten years later, they meet again. Can they put the past behind them?
Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young. Jack can't forgive himself for being responsible for his fiancée’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of his relationship with Abbey.
Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?


  1. I'm having the opposite problem with my WIP.

    The heroine's name is Pam, but she just doesn't 'feel' like a Pam to me. Trouble is, I already introduced her in another book, so I really can't change her name. At the time, she was just a throwaway background character, but now it's her turn for a book, so I'm stuck.

    1. I was the same when my editor suggested a spin-off story about my heroine's friend - who I'd called Charley. It wouldn't have been my choice for a heroine's name, but I actually got used to it and like it!

  2. It's funny you should say that, Debra, because every time I give a character a temporary name it ends up suiting that character. Paula, I love your excerpt. It makes me want to read more.

    1. That's exactly what happened with Jack, Margaret! And hopefully Fragrance will be re-published later this year, once I've done all the revising and editing!

  3. I, so far, have not yet had that problem with names. But who knows. Now that I say that, it will probably happen in the next book. :)

    1. I usually have more problems with secondary characters' names e.g. making sure they don't sound similar or all start with the same letter!

    2. True. I have a much bigger problem with those!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ana! While revising it, I've realised how much I've tightened up my writing since I first wrote it about 6 years ago!