Once the idea for the series took shape, I had to set aside Beside Two Rivers and begin book 1 Before the Scarlet Dawn.
Book 1 ~ At the beginning I had questions.
Who is Eliza Bloome?
Where did she grow up?
Who were her parents?
What does she look like?
What are her beliefs?
What does she want?
Eliza began to take form deeply in my imagination. I saw a young woman with raven hair, clear skin, and violet eyes whose heart is longing to be loved for the person she is, not for her beauty. She is a bit naive when it comes to the ways of the world.
She is the daughter of a vicar and lives with him at a small vicarage in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, England until his death. Her mother died when she was a baby.
Eliza loves God and wants to do the right thing. She believes with all her heart that He is guiding her to the man she longs for. What she wants most is to be loved unconditionally, and to be accepted for her mind and soul, to find a husband who treats her as his equal.
To get this all down on paper, I jotted down these attributes in my notebook for Before the Scarlet Dawn. In writing the story, the best technique for me is writing the scenes out by hand first in the notebook. Each novel has its own. Writing freehand, for some reason I cannot explain, causes the words to flow out of me. It is raw, unedited prose. Perhaps it has to do with the right side of the brain, the creative side. All I know is this technique is what helps me start and finish a novel.
The story begins its evolution with Eliza sitting at her father's beside late at night. A knock on the door echoes up the staircase. The servant of a local gentleman must speak to Reverend Bloome in private. And what he has to tell, launches the story.
Sounds a bit crazy, but I pictured Eliza telling me 'write my story'. She became to me a person who once lived, breathed, and walked this earth. If I could not achieve that, my readers will not connect to her.
So in the evolution of book 1 in the series, I began with characterization. Eliza, being the main character, comes on stage in chapter one awaiting the inevitable. She then moves on and readers begin to meet the people in her life. Her devoted servant, Fiona Goodall. A suitor whose sees winning her as a challenge named Langbourne. And then the man Eliza loves above all others - Hayward Morgan---proud, wealthy, and in search of a stalwart wife. The major players are in place, and the question arises. Will Hayward love Eliza unconditionally? Will he see her as his equal, and be devoted to her no matter how much the storms of life rage against them?
As a reader, what intrigues you the most about a series?
As a writer, what kinds of things intimidate you about writing a series?