Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Patricia Bond to the blog. Patricia will be talking about France, unexpected research, and her women’s fiction contemporary romance From My Balcony. Welcome, Patricia.
What comes first – the story or the research?
Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it?
I can hear you. “Research, of course!”
But then, what if the research isn’t research at all? What if it’s simply a vacation? Or a trip you’re taking for some other reason entirely, and it turns into a story?
That’s what happened to me with “From My Balcony.” I never started out thinking about a story set in France. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the country. When I studied French in high school, it came easily. Maybe it was my Latin background (thank you, Sister Mary Eligia). Or maybe because, as my best friend said, I’d lived a past life there.
However it happened, I’ve always been a Francophile.
When my husband announced he had a short military deployment there many, many years ago, and I found out he was headed to the south of France, I knew I was going, if only for a week.
He had to work almost the entire time I was there, which was a mixed blessing. While I missed his company on my sightseeing, I had the freedom to go where I wanted, for however long I wanted. So long as I was back in time for dinner. And like my character, Diana, I had the pleasure of choosing a different city or town to visit every day, like “picking candies from a dish.” I was charmed by so many places. Arles, Nimes, Salon, Aix. But when I chanced upon Cassis, it took hold of my heart and my soul and never let go.
Fast forward – okay, slow forward – ten years. I was still dreaming about Cassis. About how lovely it looked, how I would love to live there on the shores of the Mediterranean. A story started brewing. “What if?” kept popping into my head. I was writing historical romances then, was on the verge of selling my first one, and in the back of my head, Cassis kept dancing around showing me sunsets over the water, teasing my memories with the scents of water, fish, and lavender.
Sometimes it was hard to visualize runaway slaves and the shores of the Chesapeake because I kept seeing flirtatious Frenchmen and calanques instead. But I persevered, and “By Love’s Honor Bound” became reality.
And still, Cassis haunted me. For another ten years and two more historical romances it haunted me. It reared its head in the middle of rural Pennsylvania and tried to give my Civil War Colonel’s dialogue a French accent. It valiantly tried to turn his love, Melanie, into a fifty-ish American divorcee with grown children and shattered confidence. It tried to make a rural farmhouse into a rehabbed monastery owned by an aging film star.
When I started to dream scenes and dialogue runs, I knew I was a goner.
“From My Balcony” HAD to be written. I wove memories together with “What ifs,” and gave birth to my first contemporary romance. Because Cassis still held my heart.
And because I really wanted to sleep.
From My Balcony
By Patricia Bond
Do you want to live your life or hide from it?
Diana knew she lied to her best friend when she said she wanted to live it.
Oh, how desperately she wanted to hide! Hide from her husband’s betrayals, hide from the blame and guilt heaped on her by her younger daughter’s refusal to accept the divorce, hide from the pity, the questions, the snarky innuendos from her “friends.”
Most of all, hide from herself and her failures.
Her family accepted her need to “find herself,” and this apartment in the south of France was perfect with its balcony and view of the sea and town. Low enough to be able to watch life happen below her, high enough to not participate in any of it.
Now if only the gentle people of Cassis would let her do that.
Excerpt of From My Balcony
It was the balcony that drew me first. Three stories up and wrapping around two sides of the building, one side of it faced the sparkling Mediterranean. The other looked down on the town’s main street, lined with a small profusion of shops and cafes so quintessentially French my heart ached with the sweetness of it.
I watched the light glint madly off the waters of the sea, forming iridescent pools that melded into the shadows cast by the massive rock formations called calanques. The behemoths rose from the water like so many Poseidons, framing and protecting the small harbor.
I turned from the balcony back to the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, which gave the small apartment an open, airy feeling. Most of the place was given over to a great room, with a kitchen area so tiny you could bump into yourself if you turned around too quickly. Only an island divided it from the living room and kept it from feeling claustrophobic. Through a door on the right, the bedroom had a view of the street, a pair of double doors giving access to that side of the balcony.
There wasn’t much, but then when you’re not the trophy wife, you don’t need much. And most of what I needed came with the apartment. It was as though it had been made up, ready and waiting for me.
Want to read more? You can buy From My Balcony here. Warning to readers of sweet romance—this book has mild open door romance scenes.
About the Author:
When not writing, Patricia spends time with her family
and grandchildren. Her greatest goal is to be the partner in crime granny and give her grandchildren LOTS of silly memories.
She also indulges her other passions – traveling when possible, reading voraciously, knitting and embroidery, practicing reiki, and her latest – attempting watercolor.
She lives in Western New York not far from the Honeymoon Capital of the World, so writing romance is pretty much a given.
She plans to continue writing both contemporary and historical romances and give her readers stories that will touch their hearts.
Because, in any time and in any place, love is all that matters.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.bond.author/