It’s been pouring for two days outside my window and is supposed to keep it up for three more. The world is grey, dripping and much too chilly. That’s winter in the Pacific Northwest. Outside Anne’s window east of Toronto, are mounds and drifts of snow. Her sports car is up on blocks for the duration, while she sits by the fire with Mr. Tubby, her fair-weather barn cat, and dreams.
If there is a common experience we all share, it’s the weather – a soft breeze on our skin or a cold drenching from a raincloud. At this time of year, if I open a book set in freezing weather, I’m inclined to slam it shut! It’s too cold outside to fill my head with pictures of being too cold! Give me warmth and tropics…or at least a good dose of lovely weather.
In our romances, weather is a big deal. I confess, I want eternal spring with all those lovely fresh breezes, brilliant flower buds and the feel of life exploding around me. Anne leans toward the fall when the leaves are turning and the earth smells rich and peaty. Getting the season and setting right in our writing is always a challenge. We need to know what’s in bloom when our hero or heroine takes a casual stroll, and often our own experiences provide the answer.
One of my favorite memories is a walk with my daughter in London’s Green Park, daffodils nodding and the air so fresh and clean. For Anne, it’s escaping the dregs of winter and flying to London with her husband for a sniff of spring. Needless to say, deciding which month our story takes place is key. We want to see what our characters are seeing, know what they’d be wearing and whether or not they need an umbrella!
Weather might dictate our lives in reality, but in fiction, we get to choose! And how cool…or warm, is that! With Undone by the Star, our current work-in-progress, we settled on July. And while weather is only a backdrop to our story, it helps paint the scene.
So when our drop-dead gorgeous film star needs time to think, we take away his driver and let him walk back to his hotel…
Leaving the roar and the congestion of Kensington High Street behind, Marc followed the flowered walkway into Hyde Park. He’d seen six flats that afternoon, and while he was sure the last one would be just perfect, he needed time to think.
Everywhere he looked, Marc saw splashes of pinks, purples and yellows, the air so fresh, it washed away the concerns of the last few days. He could hear children laughing and birds chirping as he walked, he nodded to a pair of excited tourists, who had obviously recognized him, and there, in the distance, was Queen Victoria’s gilded memorial to her beloved Albert.
Destined to spend all eternity on public display.
The very thought gave Marc the shivers. He knew he couldn’t undo the fact that he was a film star, but changes could, and would, be made. Starting today.
With Alexis. From the moment they’d met in the lobby of The Sadler Hotel, the attraction between them had been very, very real. But he’d behaved so badly twice now, he wasn’t sure where he stood in her affections. If at all.
Marc kicked at a stray stone in his path.
And then felt churlish. He was the most fortunate of men. He stopped to watch a grey squirrel take a peanut from a disheveled old man sitting on a bench. Once the first one peanut had disappeared, the squirrel waited in expectation.
“Do you come here often?” asked Marc as he drew nearer.
“Every day.” The man reached into his pocket and set out another peanut.
It was an enjoyable pantomime. After a half-dozen peanuts, the grey squirrel leapt down and scampered into the nearby bushes, only to be replaced by another one.
Marc started to walk away, then stopped and turned back. “Okay if I bring some peanuts next time?” he asked. The man on the bench gave him a shy smile. Marc continued on his way, his step lighter than it had been in a long time. This was what he had been missing, the small exchanges and casual encounters of a normal life. He paused briefly at the Albert Memorial to watch a group of kids playing soccer in the distance, their shouts travelling across the grass towards him as they chased the ball, and each other.
His decision made, Marc pulled out his phone.
He would rent the flat, live like a local, and never let celebrity dictate his life again.
As this is a romance, whether or not the hero and heroine will get together is, shall we say, a foregone conclusion. The weather on the other hand is not. It can be as unpredictable as a lover’s quarrel and as hot and steamy as a summer’s day.
I hope it’s good wherever you are.