Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Barbara Burke Shares a Pint

Of course it all started in a bar. The Ship is a dodgy little pub with an unwelcoming entrance on a set of steep stairs connecting the two main roads of this hillside harbour town. In the daytime one stands in the doorway trying to get one’s vision back before stumbling into the murky room. A pool table no one ever uses sits to the right like the ghost of a more congenial era. A bank of cheap tables and old wooden chairs on the left partially conceal a tiny stage banked by a small row of dusty footlights. The mirror behind the bar at the back of the room reflects nothing, but the row of taps behind the beer polished bar itself shine from the constant pull of the bartender’s competent hands as glass after glass of rich dark Guinness is poured into pint glasses.

My home away from home, as it is for many writers in this small, close-knit community. We have our readings here and our Christmas parties and our long, liquid lunches. And sometimes we just wile away a lazy Sunday afternoon consuming pints and companionship at one of the chipped and rickety tables, laughing and bitching about editors and publishers and appalling freelance rates that haven’t gone up since we traded in our Smith Coronas for Commodore 64s.

It was on just such a Sunday, whilst staring into the last few creamy dregs of my second pint, that I worked up the courage to confess to my friend and fellow dissolute my early dreams of becoming a romance writer. After university I had decided that the smart course would be to quickly knock off a couple of Harlequin romances in order to make a few bucks while pursuing my true destiny as the greatest fantasy writer since Anne MaCaffrey. Much to my amazement, that noble publishing edifice actually turned down the hard-wrested fruits of my labour on the aforementioned Smith Corona. Then they continued this inexplicable behaviour with the next one I deigned to send them.

It was enough. They’d had their chance. Unfortunately the fantasy novel career also failed to materialise – something about actually writing all those thousands and thousands of words. In the intervening years I’d pursued a few careers before becoming a freelance journalist. But I’d always nourished a secret love for Georgette Heyer and in recent years had started sneaking onto Harlequin’s free reads website. And it was there I learned that it was possible to write shorter romances. 

It didn’t take long before my compagnon d’amour (as opposed to compagnon d'armes) and I had concocted a plan. She was mired in a fantasy romance that was going nowhere. I was just mired. We’d both write a short story – hers about a demon lover and mine about a Regency rake – and form a writing circle of two.  We ended up with a circle of one writer and one relentless booster and I actually managed to finish a story.

When it was accepted by Wild Rose we (somehow) found ourselves in the Ship again. And when my first royalty cheque arrived there we were again. Thanks heavens for good friends and beer.

When Recompromising Amanda was accepted I had no idea that there was such a strong and vibrant community of romance writers and readers out there. I was gobsmacked the first time I actually got a review, not to mention how shocking it was to discover that people I wasn’t even related to were actually buying it.

How cool is that.

So now I’m busy beavering away at the next one. It starts with a girl (in 19th century London) going into a bar...


How has beautiful, popular Amanda Smythe-Kincaid managed to reach the ripe old age of twenty-five without getting married? Could she possibly still be carrying a torch for Jason, her brother's best friend? It’s been years since they were caught kissing in the conservatory.

Jason, the third Viscount Greyshott, has been in love with Amanda for ages. Too bad he can’t convince her of that fact, and too bad she repeatedly turns down his marriage proposals.

When Amanda asks Jason for a shocking favor, he realizes this may just be the opportunity he needs. And when fate, in the form of an exasperated older brother and some inadvertent eavesdropping, finally steps in to bring this charming Regency couple into each other’s arms—where everyone around them knows they’ve always belonged—Amanda doesn’t stand a chance.


“Jason!” she said as, at the same time, “Amanda!” burst from his lips.

They looked at each other fully for the first time and might have smiled if not for the gravity of the situation.

“Ladies first,” Jason commanded.

His eyes were warm, and Amanda took comfort in the sight even as her heartbeat quickened at the memory of the molten heat reflected in them the night before. She drew a resolute breath, but turned her head away, refusing to meet his eyes.

“Jason, the other day you told me if there was ever anything I needed that Charles could not provide I was to come to you, and you would help me.” She dared a peep up at him. “Did you mean it?”

“How can you doubt it?” he asked, a frown crossing his features.

“Then I want you to promise me you will do something for me without asking any questions.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“No questions,” she reminded him with a brief smile. “You must trust me.”

“It’s not something illegal is it?” he teased. “I’ll have to calculate the probability of being sent to jail and consult my lawyers on how long the sentence is likely to be before agreeing to anything truly reprehensible.”

“No, it’s not illegal,” she answered seriously. “At least, I don’t think it’s illegal,” she added with a trace of doubt.

“‘Don’t think it’s illegal’ will have to do, I suppose. Tell me what you want, and if it lies within my power I will do it.”

Amanda took a deep breath before replying, and then spoke all in a rush. “I want you to make love to me.”
Recompromising Amanda  Available at The Wild Rose Press


Jannine Gallant said...

Great to have you on our blog, Barbara. I, too, started my writing career thinking I'd sell a book to Harlequin. The editor actually asked for a few changes before giving me the "thanks, but no thanks" letter. Glad it worked out for you in the long run.

Calisa Rhose said...

Congrats on the sale and Whoopie! for beer and good friends, virtual or real. :)

Margaret Tanner said...

Welcome to the blog Barbara, ooh that little pub sounds so cosy.
Loved the excerpt too.



Brenda Whiteside said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post!

Lynne Marshall said...

Barbara! I want to go to your bar! I felt like I was there, so you are obviously talented.

Having written short romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, I know how hard it is to get it right. Edits and revisions are grueling.

I'm so glad you've found your writing home at The Wild Rose Press. Proud to be a WRP author with you!

Looking forward to sharing a cyber pinT with you today, and maybe a real pint soneday when I visit England again.