Inspiration: Romance in the Interstices

Interstice (noun) in·​ter·​stice
plural — interstices
1a: a space that intervenes between things, especially one between closely spaced things
b: a gap or break in something generally continuous
2: a short space of time between events

Have you ever seen the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead? The play (also a movie) is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the point of view of the courtiers Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, minor characters who inhabit the interstices of the action of Hamlet.

I like to think of A Delicate Seduction as the Rosencrantz and Gildenstern of The Harwell Heirs series, except without the existential absurdism.

Percival and Bertram — also known by their titles Norrington and Ravensburgh, respectively — make appearances in Books 1, 2, and 3 of the Harwell Heirs. In those books, we only see glimpses of the plot of their own lives, like in Hamlet where the viewer only sees glimpses of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. A Delicate Seduction then turns the viewpoint, and we see the full plot of Percival and Bertram’s love story.

A Romance Almost Unwritten

A Delicate Seduction almost didn’t get written. Well, at least not in its current state as a novel. In 2016, I had an idea for a novel involving the Marquess of Norrington and the Viscount Ravensburgh. (If you had read Books 1-3, the two were clearly enamored of each other.) Yet, as the son of a duke, Norrington needed to produced an heir. Miss Penelope Hardcastle would be involved in the scheme. This became my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, A Noble Deceit. After drafting that novel, I knew something was wrong.

You see, the Marquess of Norrington, i.e., Percival Wood, had suffered a traumatic experience with his last relationship. That relationship history needed to be addressed. I couldn’t suddenly have Book 4 of my Harwell Heirs series show Norrington (Percival) and Ravensburgh (Bertram) in love and scheming about their future.

While I was writing Book 5, Discovering Her Delight, for NaNoWriMo 2017, I realized I had the series order all wrong. I needed to have something that explored how Percival and Bertram fell in love. Initially I thought this would be a short story. Then it became a novelette…then a novella. Nope. I really needed to write a novel. Percival was a survivor of intimate partner abuse; his story needed to be told properly. And, I needed to honor anyone who had suffered such abuse. I really could not just ignore the character pain and growth that happened before the eventual Happily-Ever-After.

So, A Delicate Seduction was born as a full length novel. It got even longer after a beta reader suggested I should incorporate excerpts from the pirate hunter story Bertram writes prior to and during the course of the action of the novel. These “Interlude” excerpts from The Adventures of Paolo the Pirate Hunter were fun to write. There’s even one with a sensual sword fight.

A New Series Order

So now, no matter what any previous blog post or social media post says, the order of Books 4, 5, and 6 — The Harwell Heirs Legacy Romances — is as follows:

A Romance in the Interstices

What are the interstices of the Harwell Heirs which reveal Percival and Bertram’s story?

A Delicate Seduction takes place at the same time as The Pleasure Device, the summer of 1879. The first three chapters of A Delicate Seduction develop the action hinted at in Chapter Twelve, and later Chapter Sixteen of The Pleasure Device.

Bertram (as the Viscount Ravensburgh) plays a role in the epilogue of Disobedience By Design, while Percival (as the Marquess of Norrington) is mentioned. This scene — a wedding scene — is hinted at towards the end of A Delicate Seduction.

And, in Where Destiny Plays, at Helena’s birthday celebration, Bertram and Percival relate anecdotes about their travels abroad. These anecdotes were fully developed in A Delicate Seduction.

In fact, I had to gather up all the references to Norrington and Ravensburgh in all three books and construct a timeline of what they were doing and when they were doing it. Book 6, Their Noble Deceit, will have some overlap with Where Destiny Plays.

Theme songs

Of course I have inspirational theme songs for A Delicate Seduction!

For Percival, I kept thinking about the lyric from Brave by Sara Bareilles, “Sometimes a shadow wins”.

The lyrics continue, “Maybe one of these days you can let the light in”, which is definitely a theme for this novel. However, I don’t want to emphasize the theme of the shadow. Percival is strong. What’s stronger than being brave?

Being titanium.

Sia’s soaring voice singing “You shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am titanium” evokes Percival’s inner strength to continue living life after an abusive past.

Bertram’s theme song is a little more difficult to pin down. He finds himself in love with a damaged soul. Or is it Bertram who is the damaged soul? While he’s had relationships in the past (hinted at in A Delicate Seduction), he’s never been in love before.

Dreams by The Cranberries fits Bertram’s situation perfectly. “I know I felt like this before / But now I’m feeling it even more / Because it came from you / Then I open up and see / The person falling here is me / A different way to be…” One of the central themes of the novel is Bertram’s impatient desire. Dolores O’Riordan’s gorgeous soprano voice reflects this with the lyric “I want more, impossible to ignore”.

Will Bertram be able to overcome his impatience? Will Percival be able to open his heart to a man once again? You’ll have to read A Delicate Seduction to find out.