Today I’m very happy to introduce you to one of my long-time writer friends, Constance Phillips, whose debut novel Fairyproof has just hit a bookshelf near you. I’ve been following Constance’s progress for years as she wrote, submitted, and got that contract, but it was fascinating for me to hear about the deeper process of bringing her characters, Monique and Daniel, to life. Here’s what she has to say about her creation process….
Thank you, Merry, for inviting me to come to your blog today to talk about the inspiration behind and Fairyproof and my writing process.
When I first got the idea or writing a story about a fairy dependent on her powers and the hero who was immune to them, I envisioned a 15,ooo word short story. It was just a few weeks after finishing a dark non-romance novel, that centered on some pretty heavy (and depressing) topics. I wanted to write something light and flirty, something to cleanse the pallet so to speak. I wanted a complete change from the previous manuscript and I wanted it to be a project I could take from inspiration to final draft in a relatively short amount of time.
This is pretty funny considering the description I gave above doesn’t match Fairyproof, the finished project, in the slightest.
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer at heart. I usually know how a story begins and ends before I sit down. Everything from there flows from my fingertips; usually in order from page one to the end. Of course, that first draft is a rough draft and many rewrites follow.
It wasn’t that long after I had typed “the end” the first time that I realized there was so much more story to tell. I hadn’t dug deep enough, and I hadn’t even begun to unearth the reasons behind why Monique ran from the fairy realm.
Even though I’m not much of a plotter, that short served as an outline. It was the bare bones of what became the romantic story for Monique and Daniel, but I knew if I was going to give this pair a novel length story, I needed to put a little meat on the bones. I needed to give the book a subplot: the secondary arc of the fairy murders.
It was during those months of rewriting and expanding the book that I came to know three minor fairy characters better. Also, the tone of the story morphed over those revisions. With each pass, my voice became less sweet and light. It migrated to what I call my true voice, not necessarily dark, but more edgy than the optimistic narration that Fairyproof began with.
That is why Fairyproof will be a book that I will always hold close to my heart. Yes, it’s in part because it was the first one that saw publication, but also because it taught me a lot about my writing process. It taught me to be true to my voice.
That original short story might have been the seedling that became the novel, but it was not my voice, nor a short. It was meant to be what it became.
And now here’s a delicious excerpt from Fairyproof….
Monique gripped the pen so tightly, her knuckles turned white and her fingers grew cold. She hated starting this new beginning the same old way — with a lie.
There’d been so many of them in the last six months. Each new start began with a new one, and every new identity came to the same abrupt end just a few weeks later. Dare she hope for a different resolution? Maybe she could find peace here.
She took a deep breath and committed the falsehood — Naomi Sanders — in ink, hoping the form got easier from there.
Gainful employment meant federal ID numbers and taxes. If the U.S. government could trace her, so could her brother, Keiran. But a job also meant cash that she needed to blend in, and the anonymity she craved.
She slid her hand through a strand of her long, red hair, letting the ringlets wrap around her finger before pushing it back over her ear.
Can I pull this off?
It might be better if she applied for another waitress or janitor job, one that didn’t require so much brain power. She’d give anything to be able to spend her days outside like she had with her most recent foray into landscaping. The world of high finance was a big change, and being indoors again would be hard, especially in an environment as organized as this one. The advantage: Keiran wouldn’t be expecting it.
Maybe he’d give up and leave her alone. Deep down, she knew that was a fantasy. After almost catching her two weeks ago, no doubt his determination to seize her was stronger than ever.
Her eyes fell back to the fake ID and social security card in her lap. New adventures always gave her a thrill, but this time her hands trembled. She’d used the latest alias and phony documentation in the last city and previous job. Using the same ones again would increase her brother’s chance of tracing her, but she didn’t have the American currency to make a deal with a human, nor the julues to pay Billy to get a new identity. Either she would have to find a bank willing to convert the few pink gemstones she still possessed or this assistant’s job was a necessity.
Keyboarding skills? Little to none.
A history in business? Nope, that wouldn’t get her the job, either.
She continued on through the list of qualifications, answering no or leaving the lines blank, realizing all she had left was her special, little bag of tricks.
Somehow it always came down to this. She never truly abandoned where she came from because she needed that part of her to survive here.
The door to the office opened and a tall, blonde woman dressed in a blue business suit emerged, every hair in place and not a flaw to be seen. “Miss Sanders, Mr. Elliot will see you now.”
She almost felt sorry for the other four ladies waiting for their interview. By the time she finished with the new boss, he’d send them packing, but she didn’t have any other choice. They were qualified. Others would hire them.
I need this more than they do.
She repeated the mantra to herself, easing her conscience as she gathered her papers and her purse and followed the other woman into the office. It was time to set aside anxiety; it wouldn’t get her what she needed.
“I’ll take your paperwork and you can have a seat.”
Monique handed off the papers as she passed by the woman, but dismissed her as irrelevant and wrote her off as if she were not in the room. She focused on her target, Daniel Elliot, but her breath caught as she took in the spacious corner office.
Two large windows overlooked the park across the street, a tell-tale sign of his success in the business world. The park looming ten stories below, a bit of nature captured between the high-rise office buildings, reminded her of the world she ran from. It was a slice of serenity amidst a chaotic city, and a dynamic illustration of the two worlds she was caught between.
A large, cherry desk with no clutter sat near one window. Other than a tray full of files in the left corner, only a computer monitor sat on the polished surface. In front of it were three reddish-brown leather chairs with cherry end tables separating them.
Both her father and brother used to say “focus on your strengths and downplay your weaknesses,” and that’s what needed to be done. Her best assets were physical: long legs, a small waist, and breasts that would always turn a man’s head, especially when she unbuttoned the top two buttons and wore a push up bra. Five-nine before slipping on the three-inch black heels, she towered over most women. The shoes matched a very short skirt and sleek-fitting jacket.
She shifted her weight, started across the room and focused on Daniel. Sitting behind the desk, his head was buried in a file. All she could see was his jet-black hair. Bone straight, it framed his face and brushed his shoulders with just enough gray at the temples to raise her pulse.
Then he looked up.
Gray eyes met hers from behind black-rimmed glasses. Her heart lurched in her chest. Charming him would be a pleasure.
Holding his gaze, she set her shoulders back enough that his eyes would drop lower, and closed the distance between them. She offered her hand across the desk and tipped her head, letting her hair fall across her right shoulder. When his large hand enveloped hers, she smiled and cast an enchantment spell. “Mr. Elliot, I’m Naomi Sanders.”
She waited for the familiar haze to cloud his eyes, a sure sign he was under her control.
He accepted her hand, cradled it in his for a brief moment before turning his attention to his assistant who handed him her paperwork.
No haze. He didn’t move toward her with an infatuated grin, just went about his business. A sharp pain seized her heart, radiating through her chest. What could have gone wrong? Casting an enchantment spell was second nature. She’d been using them to get what she wanted since seeking refuge among the humans.
As she lowered herself into one of the chairs, her mind grappled with what had gone wrong, and her body slipped into the familiar: teasing the man in front of her. She crossed her long legs, and let her skirt slide up her thigh.
Unaffected, Daniel read her file as he walked around his desk and leaned back against it. After a moment, he looked up and asked, “Why did you leave your last job?”
She shifted her weight in the chair, uncrossing her long legs and crossing them again in the opposite direction. He didn’t appear moved at all by her physical appearance, but even with her worries Monique couldn’t ignore him or the way his dark, tailored suit accented his long, lean body.
A smile crossed his thin lips, but not for the reason she wanted. He hadn’t even noticed her legs. Contact hadn’t been broken by his crisp, clear eyes.