Zoe Archer Talks About The Man-Engine That Got Away + Giveaway

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.

man engine

Source: http://www.geevor.com/

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).

9781250015600_p0_v1_s260x420DANGEROUS SEDUCTION
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?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | Book Depository

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,Zoe-stompers-crop 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.

Read an Excerpt

Website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr


  1. Justine says

    I would think that an action scene would add to rather than detract from the storyline, but I’d need to read it myself to know.

  2. Amy R says

    As a reader I find most books leave me satisfied but there are a few that leave things open and I never feel like I get my questions answered. I like epilogues it helps me as a reader have closure or with a series build up to the next book.

  3. infinitieh says

    That man-engine does look really cool. Too bad it couldn’t work in the book, but isn’t that what extras on the author’s site (not unlike deleted scenes on a DVD) are for? So we readers can find out more about the characters, setting, or background.

  4. says

    One thing I like about Nalini Singh’s newletters is that she included these little “deleted scenes” in them. We get to see small slice-of-life events that nicely round out the book they belong in, but aren’t necessarily needed to support the story.

  5. Christine L. says

    I don’t recall reading any finished work where anything seemed to be missing or would have been much improved by the reinsertion of a deleted scene. That isn’t to say that I don’t read or watch scenes deleted from works I’ve read or watched. They can be fun, as is the case with the man-engine as described here.

  6. Jess1 says

    I remember wanting scenes in the Lord of the Rings book in Valinor. What a fascinating photo of the miners. What an especially hard life that they had back then and mostly still do.

  7. Janie McGaugh says

    I’m sure I’ve read the occasional book where I’ve felt that something was missing from the story, and I’ve definitely read some where I wanted questions answered. No particular book comes to mind at the moment, though, and most of what I read flows pretty well.

  8. Krysten M says

    In most books I could probably think of scenes I wish would happen, but they read just fine without :) However, there will always be a few books where there definitely should have been something but wasn’t. When that happens I feel like I dropped my book, and when I picked it back up I accidentally skipped some pages…

  9. Jen B. says

    My crazy mind is always adding scenes to books. Usually I find they just aren’t needed. Once in a while, though, I snarl when an author skips over something that I want answered or described. For instance, they ex-boyfriend is trying to cause problems with a couple. It holds the potential for great tension. But, he just disappears after the couple talks to each other about the tension. Um, did you do a conference call with him while you were working it out? Did the discussion travel through the ether to him? No, the author just decided the couple was tight again so the ex was no longer an issue. (Yes, I just read a book with this failure and it made me really annoyed.)

  10. Barbara Elness says

    There have been times when I’ve read a story when I wished a scene had been expanded upon, but most of the time I don’t miss anything, I love the story the way it is.

  11. Donna D says

    I really can’t think of any book that would have been better to have had any scene I could think of in it. [ WOW! that's a bit of a convoluted sentence - hope it made sense. ]
    I don’t have the imagination it would take to add any scene to any book, Maybe there have been times I’d wished a scene would’ve been a been longer, maybe a bit more explained – but I can’t think of any. Most of what I’ve read have flowed along just fine.

  12. Maureen says

    Most of the time if I feel something is missing it is with the ending. Some stories take so much time to show the conflict and then it takes til the last pages to resolve and I don’t get to see the hero and heroine together in less stressful times.

  13. Shelley D says

    Most of the time I miss it if it interferes with the continuity of the book . When there really needed to be a scene to explain how the character changed their mind about something or someone or if they are suddenly doing something new but the old action was not really resolved. I do tend to like epilogues and am sometimes disappointed when there is not one but I think that is just because if I really love the characters I do not want to let them go.

  14. Liz says

    I recently read A Matter of Time by Mary Calmes and there were a lot of things that happened off the page (including a pretty significant wedding!). There was a build up and then instead of actually experiencing the event with the characters we were just told about it in a couple sentences — it was definitely a let down!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.