Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged by the very talented Gilli Allan to answer 10 questions about my next release, which will be published in November. You can read about Gilli’s ‘Next Big Thing’ on her blog, Writer Cramped.
So here we go:

What is the working title of your book?
The working title was ‘A Nile Romance’ but I decided that was fairly boring. ‘Romance on the Nile’ was too reminiscent of Poirot and Agatha Christie, so I searched around for a different title. In the end, I decided on ‘Her Only Option’ as it represents the heartrending decision the heroine thinks she has to make to save the man she loves.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
From a Nile Cruise I took two years ago. As a historian by profession, I’d always been interested in Ancient Egypt. Twenty years ago, I visited Cairo, saw the Pyramids and went to the Egyptian Museum to see the treasures from Tutankhamen’s tomb. The one place I really wanted to visit was the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, so my visit to Egypt in October 2010 was the culmination of a long-held dream. The Valley exceeded all my expectations, especially the opportunity to go into Tutankhamen’s tomb, and some of the other Pharaohs’ tombs too.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s primarily a romance, but has some suspenseful moments, and a mystery too.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hugh Jackman would be perfect for my hero, Ross McAllister. In fact the scene where Ross appears at a Luxor party was inspired by Hugh, as the Drover, arriving in white dinner jacket at a charity ball in the movie ‘Australia’ – a definite ‘quick intake of breath' moment for every fan of Hugh.
I’m less sure about an actress to play Neve, my heroine. Maybe Joanne Froggatt who plays Anna in Downton Abbey.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Can they discover whose enmity is driving them apart, before it’s too late?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s being published by Whiskey Creek Press, a small independent publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About six months. I started it while I was in Egypt and wrote two chapters while we were staying for a week at a Luxor hotel after the cruise. When I got home, I abandoned it temporarily to complete another novel and came back to it a few months later. I submitted it just less than a year after my Nile Cruise.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I have no idea! I tend not to compare books, but treat each on its own merits.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The original inspiration was, as I’ve already said, my trip to Egypt, but the first ‘trigger’ came when I was on the sundeck of our cruise ship while it was moored at Aswan. The cruise ships are usually moored four abreast because there are so many of them. They’re all built to roughly the same design so all the sundecks are level with each other. Lying on a sunbed, I idly wondered if it would be possible to vault over the rails and across the short gap from one ship to another. Not that I had any intention of trying it, you understand!
But somewhere in my mind, a story was being conceived. Supposing the hero and heroine were on different cruise ships and the hero did that vaulting over the rails?
That evening, I put the question to one of the friends we had made on the cruise - “Ross, would it be possible to vault from one sundeck to another?” He walked across to the rail, studied the gap for a moment, then said, “Well, I wouldn’t try it now, but I could have done it easily when I was in my twenties or thirties.”
First piece of research completed - it was possible. And I could see my hero doing his death-defying leap (slight exaggeration!) to be with the heroine. In fact, this never actually happened in the finished book, but it was the moment when the story was first conceived.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The heroine is a cruise ship tour guide, and the hero is an archaeologist, and I hope readers will be interested in the Egyptian setting, especially the cruise up the Nile, the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and the Abu Simbel temples.
Oh, and there’s also a Nile boatman who sings Elvis songs! He ‘invented’ himself as a very minor character originally, and left me wondering ‘Where on earth did he come from?’ But I liked him so much, I decided to give him a bigger part to play in the story (or maybe he decided that?)

Next Wednesday, October 3rd, other writers will tell you about their ‘Next Big Thing’, including:
Celia Yeary   Lynette Sofras  Nancy Jardine


  1. Fabulous, Paula. I love the idea of the hero vaulting from one cruise ship to another. It's these stray daydreams that a whole novel can grow from, and when it's finished it exists in its own right - quite separate from the triggering thought.

  2. You're right, Gilli. My hero Ross never did that vault, although he did say he'd thought about it at one point!

  3. Ms. Paula, you are an inspiration to us all. I enjoy the background of your books nearly as much as the books themselves. Thank you.

  4. What a great comment, humor after 50! The backstory of a great story is very interesting.
    Paula, I can't wait to see Her Only Option in print.

  5. Thanks so much, Leigh! At least with this story I can pinpoint the actual moment it was conceived!

    Ana - over the next few weeks, I'll be revealing more of the backstory of this novel, including a tunnel in a Pharaoh's tomb.

  6. It must have been so exciting visiting Egypt. I guess now Americans would not be safe there. I can really understand your dilemma trying to find just the right title for your book. It's so important to get just the right title that fits the story and attracts readers. I think you chose wisely with Her Only Option.
    I wish you every success with your upcoming release.

  7. Hi Sarah, thanks for visiting. I was so glad I finally got to Egypt just 3 months before the revolution there. I think the tourist trade in Luxor and the Nile cruises has recovered slightly, but I'd be quite wary about going to Cairo again!
    I'm really pleased you like the title, I wasn't 100% sure about it, but neither my editor or I could come up with a better one!

  8. Again, you make me start counting days until your new release! Love hearing how you began...each time. ♥

  9. I love to hear the back story Paula and your process. Thakns for sharing this and I can't wait to read it!

  10. Fascinating, Paula,
    I love Egypt so I was very excited to hear your next story has an Egyptian setting. It sounds great and I'm really looking forward to it.
    Seeing your choice of actors for the H & H is interesting too. I'll let you know if they match my own ideas when I've read Her Only Option. It's a very striking cover, by the way, but then your covers always are.
    Very best of luck,

  11. Thanks, Lyn, and I'll be very interested to know how you imagine Ross and Neve!

  12. Your book sounds fascinating!!


  13. Missed answering yesterday, Paula. Very enticing information. :-)

  14. I think I'm already a couple of books behind in reading you, and now I want to read this one, too!

  15. Thanks, Jenny, Kathy, Nancy and Beth :-)