Wednesday, September 03, 2014


As a writer I am often asked where my stories come from. Clearly they have to come from somewhere, and I call it my dream factory.  Today I thought I would show you around.  So, welcome, come on in….

First there is the Creative Section, where new stories or scenarios are dreamed up. This department has several offices, including the car or even the train, for I often think out plots or ideas while I am travelling. Then there are the lanes and moors around my home. The first picture (left) is an ancient trackway where I walk regularly. The moors are particularly spectacular at the moment, with the heather in full bloom

And I also have a helper: this Willow, a member of my creative team – he doesn't say a lot but I often use him as a sounding board for my ideas. To date he has never made one negative criticism!

This next picture is the sort of sky that inspired my recent book The Scarlet Gown: it is set in Yorkshire and my characters are caught in a storm on the moors, easy to imagine when you have this sort of cloud hanging over you.

Then there's the Research & Development Department, where I sort out details of the setting, the historical background, perhaps find some Regency or 18th Century costumes. And of course I have to give my characters A Life. Characters need to have a back story, perhaps a career and sometimes a home. R & D involves libraries, the internet, lots of my own reference books and also places like this,
Lyme Park (aka Pemberley, for some of us!). Wandering through an old property can be very helpful in working out the layout of a character's home, or getting the feel for just how cold and draughty these stately piles must be in winter, not to mention all the hard work involved in lighting fires or getting hot water up to a bedroom!

Then  we come to the hard work – putting it all in order and turning it into a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. This cluttered space is the assembly line, where the dreams and nebulous ideas are pulled together into a (hopefully) coherent whole. (Notice the two stars in pride of place on the top - my Rona Rose Awards from the Romantic Novelists Association. They inspire me to keep going).  I spend so many hours here, typing away, until at last I am happy enough with the result to send it off to my editor.

If we are sticking with this analogy, then Harlequin must be the production line, because they take my typescript and after a bit of judicious editing my dreams are whisked away and turned into a book, not only a digital version but a lovely printed paper version, and here's a selection of recent titles that now sit proudly on my shelf.

So, I hope you enjoyed your whistle stop tour: I am going to get back to work now, but before I go just one more picture – at the end of the day, I put my feet up and relax after a hard day being creative and my assistant needs his rest too: he likes to be covered up cosily so he can sleep, ready for another hectic day in the dream factory!

Sarah Mallory / Melinda Hammond
Never Trust a Rebel – Sarah Mallory, Harlequin Historical, pub. September 2014
A Lady at Midnight – Melinda Hammond – published as an e-book.


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I loved your whistle-stop tour of your Dream Factory, Sarah/Melinda. The heather looks wonderful, such an amazing vivid colour.

And it's great to see Lyme Park, too. I visited it when all the rhododendrons were out; they made a most beautiful frame for a view of the house from across the lake.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks for taking the tour, Elizabeth. The heather is beginning to fade a little now, but as autumn progresses the moors will take on a golden, almost orange glow - every season is different and I love it!

Lyme was wonderful and when we visited last weekend they were having a Regency weekend, with dressing up and Regency dancing. I must put a note in the diary to visit in early summer and see the rhodedendrons.