April 10, 2017
Thank you very much for hosting me on the blog today and giving me a chance to talk a little about Leap of Faith, my latest friends-to-lovers action/suspense story.
As stories go, writing this one held a lot of surprises for me. For one, it ended up being set in a coastal town in the US, while I usually make up fantasy worlds or write stories set much closer to my home in England. The writing muse gave me the story long before I had the actual setting, so by the time I made it to the end I needed to pull the marina, hospital, warehouse district, and Marius’s home in the hills together into one location.
Since I had a shopping list for the place I needed, there was only one thing for it: research.
Put three writers in a room together and soon they’ll be discussing the chances of getting arrested the moment someone gets hold of their search history. Not that we’re looking at anything dodgy, you understand. We’re just researching how to blow up yachts, the best way to stab someone to incapacitate rather than kill, how to hack a High Street bank or impersonate Elvis Presley. Totally normal stuff if you make stuff up for a living.
Research isn’t all about arcane or illegal knowledge, of course. In the last few years I’ve been reading restaurant menus and train timetables, Army training manuals and cookery books. I’ve looked up the best way to re-upholster a chair, how to make venison pie and clam chowder, and tried to find out what kind of cars the police would drive in Connecticut. And I’ve spent hours with Google Earth open on my desktop studying the Connecticut coastline.
Since I’ve never visited Connecticut, Lissand, the home of FireWorks Security, ended up being wholly fictitious. I didn’t want to set it somewhere real and then stumble over little things that neither Google Earth nor guidebooks can tell me. Things like brand-new one-way streets, condemned buildings, or shops that went out of business. And, of course, I needed to make sure I had all my story ingredients in one place, logically arranged to fit the story.
I had a great deal of fun working all that out.
The next surprise that Leap of Faith had for me was what happened to the story itself. You see, when it comes to books I’m a bit of a serial monogamist.
There are plenty of serials out there all set in the same universe, where each book follows a different couple. I do read and enjoy those, but my favorites to read (and write) are series that follow one couple through significant parts of their relationship. That may have something to do with me having stuck it out for over a quarter of a century or maybe I’m simply too stubborn to quit. I really don’t know.
For me, there’s more to romance than meeting, falling in love, and deciding to give it a go. That part with the trouble breathing, the fluttering heart and sweaty palms is exciting. But I think true romance really starts with the daily nitty-gritty, with the million and four annoyances and irritations we all face every year, with learning to pull together and make it work. Stories and series that stick with one couple beyond that first flush of attraction have a good chance to feed that craving for me, whether I’m reading or writing.
So imagine my surprise when I was in the middle of writing Leap of Faith, a standalone story as far as I was concerned, and I found myself falling for one of the secondary characters in a pretty serious way.
At that point I already knew that there was more to Kieran’s story than I wanted to explore in Leap of Faith. Realizing that Kieran’s story is closely linked to that of the dishy surgeon didn’t require any great stretch. I let the writing muse play with the idea and before I knew it, Dr. Marius Leven had a book of his own, complete with love interest. That’s not how I usually roll, but it’s exciting all the same.
And it drives Joel up the wall.
Here I got my third surprise. I knew both Kieran and Joel quite well before I started writing. Kieran, the intense, stubborn one, prone to overthink and brood, still coming to terms with losing his partner and his career and finding the courage to start over. Joel, quick, decisive and easygoing by comparison, with a short fuse for bullshit and a need to watch over Kieran. I knew their past, their likes and fears, and I knew how their relationship would bloom. Then Marius Leven arrived on the scene and the story started to change.
Kieran and Marius have a connection from the moment they meet. True, Kieran draws a knife on the doctor, but Marius has faced worse. And when someone needs help, he’s right there, knife or no. Being a doctor, he sees through Kieran’s masks and he has no compunction to push boundaries, be they personal or professional. Kieran responds to that approach, not realizing the effect their easy interaction has on Joel.
I’ve always seen Leap of Faith as Kieran’s story, Kieran’s journey. I saw Joel as Kieran’s strength, that missing piece that, once in place, gives Kieran the courage to deal with his past. I hadn’t expected to have a catalyst like Marius in the mix. His presence changes the interaction between Joel and Kieran and – in the sequel that’s still a work in progress – will change Joel to a point where he and Kieran have to fight if they want to hang on to the relationship they’re building.
Did I say earlier that I preferred series where we get to follow a single couple through several books over series where each book tells a different love story? I could be changing my mind in this instance, but I wonder how everybody else feels about this. Which kind of series do you like best and why? Please leave me a note in the comments.
Check out Leap of Faith today!
Close friends and partners at FireWorks Security, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have each other’s backs, make a formidable team, and carefully ignore their volatile chemistry.
When Kieran struggles with the aftermath of an assignment gone wrong, Joel is there to help. When Joel is caught in an explosion, Kieran jumps into a burning marina to rescue the man who means so much to him. But they never discuss what’s closest to their hearts, not prepared to risk their friendship for the mere possibility of something more.
Faced with bombs, assassins, and old ghosts, Joel and Kieran must find out why they’re targets, who is coming after them, and—most of all—how each would feel if he lost the other. Should they continue as best friends, or is it time to take a leap of faith?
About Jackie Keswick:
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places: