Does anyone else wake up at 5am worrying about their characters? I'm working on a trilogy where the three books are linked by the wreck on the Isles of Scilly of an East Indiaman homeward-bound from Calcutta. The other morning, brooding on my heroine, I moved to the spare bedroom at so I could drink tea and mutter without disturbing my DH.
Still not getting anywhere, and restless, I got out of bed and looked at the bookcase.
There was a slim green volume with no dustjacket that I did not recognise: Sophie Cassmajor by Margery Sharp, published in 1934. I must have bought it second hand ages ago and never read it. When I opened it there was this enchanting sketch of a Regency lady leaning on a ship's rail. I dived back into bed and read avidly while my tea went cold.
Sophie - young, innocent and obedient - is on board ship - heading for India and an arranged marriage, just as the heroine on my second book was doing, but in the opposite direction. Her maid languishes from a broken heart, but Sophie, her emotions never touched by love, does not understand - until she meets one of the passengers, a handsome young man...
I won't give away any more of the plot of this beautifully written, atmospheric and enigmatic novella, although Sophie's story is still haunting me. I wish I could follow her to India and find out what happens to her. When I Googled Margery Sharp I discovered that she is the same person as the author of many children's books, including The Rescuers, as well as numerous novels for adults. The gorgeous drawings are by Anna Zinkeisen.
So now my East Indiaman has been wrecked and my cast of characters are - literally - all at sea and at the mercy of the fates and the Cornish rocks.
I should be writing but I am seriously distracted by the arrival of all eight volumes of the UK edition Regency Silk & Scandal, the continuity for which I wrote books one and seven (The Lord & the Wayward Lady and The Officer and the Proper Lady).
The Lord and the Wayward Lady is out in June and here is the full set, spine out, showing the lovely covers. The Uk edition is also special because each volume has additinal material from our researches - from the streets of fashionable Mayfair, to recipes for a Regency picnic on the eve of Waterloo to gypsy lore.