It’s November 1st, which means there are only 25 days until the release of my Christmas time-travel novella The Gift of Time. I had so much fun writing the story of a modern-day heroine learning to cope with life in a medieval castle.
When I started writing the story, I tried putting myself in my heroine’s place to work out what she would find difficult about castle life. The lack of running water and sewage treatment is an obvious issue, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised my heroine, who has a fear of heights, would have a major problem: stairs. I know what I’m taking about - I suffer from acrophobia myself, and as much as I love visiting castles, going up and down spiral staircases turns me into a trembling wreck.
As soon as I knew Kat, my heroine, would have trouble with stairs, I wrote this scene:
He was halfway up the donjon staircase when he heard the rustle of clothing above him. Then the same sharp-sweet scent he’d smelled on Katherine teased his nostrils. Gritting his teeth, he sprang up the steps until he rounded the curve and saw her feet level with his eyes. Bare feet. Delicate bare feet with shapely toes and a high arch. He lifted his gaze, skimming a leaf-green gown, up past the flare of her hips. Her gown was ruckled awkwardly around her waist, and the girdle that should have sat low on her hips was knotted about her waist, bunching the cloth above it. The lacing down her side sagged instead of pulling the bodice tightly to her body. She looked like a child who’d dressed in her mother’s clothes.
It was impossible to remain angry when faced with such a sight. “In a hurry?” Then he looked at her face, and his breath caught in his throat. “God’s blood, woman, cover your head.” Did she have no shame? Her glossy hair fell in waves to the middle of her back, giving her the look of a woman who had just risen from a lover’s bed. His mouth went dry as images of her sprawled upon his bed seared his mind.
He gripped her arm. “Come back to your chamber before you’re seen.” The last thing he needed was tongues wagging about his liaison with the mysterious Katherine Beaumont. Not when the future of Whitwell depended upon his marriage to Lord Hywel’s daughter.
He tugged her arm, but she resisted. It was only then that he noticed how her hands shook, her neck cords standing out from her neck as taut as bowstrings. One hand gripped the central pillar with clawed fingers as rigid as the stone they clutched.
“I can’t move.” Her voice contained no trace of the defiance that had so riled him earlier.
He looked past her to see if her gown was snagged upon anything, but as far as he could see she was free to move. “Why not?”
Crimson blotches bloomed upon her cheeks. “I’m scared of heights.” Her gaze was fixed on the narrowest curve of the stairs, as it spiraled into nothingness.
“Don’t look down. Look at me.” He positioned himself against the column, blocking her view of the stairs. With agonizing care, she raised her head.
Her lavender-blue gaze speared straight through his chest. It contained no lie, no concealment, just a direct plea for help. It chipped the shield he’d erected around his heart and awoke a deep urge to protect. From herself if necessary.
So does she get down the stairs in one piece? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
The Gift of Time is out on Monday November 26
Pre-order from Amazon: mybook.to/GiftofTime
Hoping to escape her dismal life, young widow Kat Beaumont throws a treasured coin into a lake. But how did a wish send her back in time? Now she's in a snowbound medieval castle complete with vertigo-inducing staircases and smelly drains. While participating in the Christmas festivities, she continues to search for a way home and fights her attraction to the castle's lord, Ralph d'Eyton.
Ralph needs an alliance through marriage to protect his lands and live up to his father's legacy. But Kat, with no influential family, would not make a suitable wife. He resists his fascination with this mysterious and beautiful woman who appeared out of nowhere.
Can Ralph reconcile his dawning love with his need to protect his people, and can Kat let go of her fear of loss and surrender to love?
My writing, research and any other randomness that seems like a good idea at the time.