Inspiration can be a strange and slippery thing. Sometimes the very idea that first inspires a writer to tackle a particular story can actually wind up on the “cutting room floor,” even though it was the original genesis of a book. But it sometimes happens that, once you’re in the thick of penning the book, the original inspiration just doesn’t work or fit the story anymore.
I recently had that experience when I was writing DANGEROUS SEDUCTION, my newest release from St. Martin’s Press. Though the novel is a historical romance, it’s not set in a ballroom or castle. Instead, much of the action revolves around a Cornish copper mine and small village. Simon Addison-Shawe is a founder of and operative for Nemesis, Unlimited, a secret organization that rights wrongs for those who cannot get justice for themselves. In the case of the copper mine, conditions are brutal, and the management is corrupt, so Simon is there to see what can be done to improve the lot of the workers–including fiery Alyce Carr, who is fighting for the rights of her people.
When I started plotting and researching DANGEROUS SEDUCTION, I knew nothing about copper (and metal) mines or the process of mining. Doing research is one of the things I really enjoy about writing historical romance (I’m a little weird), and in the course of my research, I learned of this really cool way miners used to get from the surface down into the mine itself, and how they’d get back up to the surface.
This device is called a man-engine. It’s kind of like a moving ladder. Here’s how it works:
“The man engine worked using a wooden pump rod used to pump water out of Cornish mines which moved slowly up and down in the shaft. There were platforms and handles on the side of the shaft with similar platforms and handles on the moving rod. To go up the shaft, the miner would step onto the platform on the rod and ride up to the next platform. Here he would step onto a platform onto the shaft. He would repeat this until he got to the top.” – From the Geevor Tin Mine Museum
I usually have action and adventure in my books, and DANGEROUS SEDUCTION is no exception. And when I first started plotting this story, I imagined an exciting chase that involved the man-engine. I’m sure you can picture it, too.
But a funny thing happened. As I continued to work on the story, and as I envisioned what Simon’s role was going to be, it slowly became clear that the man-engine chase, while fun, wasn’t going to fit the narrative or the characters. I could fight to keep that inspirational piece in, but it would actually harm the story more than help. So I had to bid farewell to the man-engine. In fact, it’s not even seen in the book at all, since Alyce works above the surface as a bal-maiden (a woman or girl who breaks up chunks of rock to separate out the ore), and Simon’s undercover identity is as a machinist–who would never use the man-engine.
I was sorry to let it go, but I realized the book would be better off without it. And now the man-engine chase lives on only in my memory.
So here’s my question for you: can you think of a scene in a book that you wished had been in there? Did you miss it? Or did the narrative flow just as well without that scene. Leave a comment, and you could win a copy of DANGEROUS SEDUCTION (US and Canada only).
Nemesis, Unlimited Novel #2
Available Now from St. Martin’s Press
Alyce Carr has no time for the strange man in her little Cornwall village, no matter how breathtakingly handsome he is. Life in Trewyn doesn’t allow for much fun—the managers of the copper mine barely provide the miners and their families with enough food. Outsiders are suspect and flirts are unimaginable, but Simon Sharpe is as keen as his name…and Alyce can’t ignore him for long.
As the founder of Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe is well accustomed to disguise and deceit. Yet he’s not prepared for Alyce’s dogged defense of her people and the injustices the copper mine has dealt them. With Alyce’s help he can change the fate of an entire town, and convincing her to join him is only part of the thrill. Together, they ignite a desire in each other much too powerful to deny. But at what cost?
Fiction Vixen review coming soon.
About the Author
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her gritty Victorian romance series, NEMESIS, UNLIMITED, launched this year. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.
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