Actors are supposedly reluctant to share the limelight with animals and children. I'm not sure if that should apply to fiction as well, but no book of mine would be complete unless it featured at least one charasmatisic dog. But then I'm an animal lover, so I would say that, wouldn't I?
Children, though, are another matter. Since I don't have any of my own, and seldom have reason to cross paths with them, I'm not entirely sure what makes them tick. Still, undaunted, I have created a young, widowed heroine in my next book, Duty's Destiny, (due to be published by Robert Hale at the end of November), who has six-year-old twins.
The following extract is the first occasion upon which the twins come to the reader's notice.
The twins came bursting through the kitchen door like a whirlwind, full of youthful energy, arms and legs flailing at seemingly impossible angles, disorderly red hair flying loose around Amy's shoulders and Hoskins, their wiry little terrier dog leaping at their heels.
'What are you two doing in here?' demanded Saskia, hands on hips, trying to sound severe, but knowing that her face had softened at the sight of her adored children and that her stern tone was unlikely to deceive the little imps in the slightest. 'I thought I asked you to pick the beans in the kitchen garden for me?'
'Oh you did, Mama,' Josh hastened to assure her, 'but you see -'
'- we heard the front door and of course Mr Graham is not here today and -'
'- and so we went to see who it was.'
'And?' enquired Saskia, well used to her children speaking at the same time and finishing one another's sentences.
'It was a gentleman,' pronounced Amy importantly.
'And he requires a room.'
'We said you would go and see him.'
'His name is Mr Beauchamp.'
'No, Josh, it was Mr Beaumont.'
'Well anyway,' they finished together, 'he is waiting to see you. We showed him into the breakfast-room, just as you said we should whenever someone calls.'
'Take the scones into the drawing-room for me,' said Saskia, removing her apron and smoothing down her gown. 'And the cream and jam too. Carefully!' she screamed after their swiftly retreating fitures.
As she moved towards the breakfast-room, Saskia was aware that she must look hot and flustered and that, as usual, long red curls were escaping from what was supposed to be an elegant chignon. She sighed resignedly, accepting there was little she could do to improve her appearance in the short time available, and trusted to luck that this stranger had a forgiving nature.