Changing the Future Blurb
Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever. However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son. They can’t change that past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future?
Changing the Future has had a long history!
Four years ago, while on holiday in the USA, I happened to meet a Harlequin best-selling author who, on hearing that I’d had 3 books published by HQ in the 60s and 70s, encouraged me to start writing romances again.
When I got home, I found the box in which I’d dumped a pile of half-written stories 30+ years earlier when I was a divorced and single parent with two young daughters and a full-time teaching career, and simply didn’t have any time to devote to writing.
One novel was complete but was rejected by HQ in the 70s. At that time they wanted brooding and domineering alpha-men as their heroes so my story of two teachers who meet again (at a school in North West England), a few years after an acrimonious break-up obviously didn’t fit their new formula.
I thought about this story and, as I was still setting my sights on Harlequin, decided to re-locate the story in America. The heroine became a teacher at a college in Virginia but I decided the hero had to have a more upmarket job. He’d previously been a geography teacher; instead, I decided (or maybe he decided?) he was a famous volcano expert. What did I know about volcanoes? Nothing, apart from the fact that they occasionally erupt and send ash clouds into the sky!
I started reading up about volcanoes in general, and specifically those in Hawaii. I studied photos and videos, and read a lot of reports and first-hand accounts of eruptions. At the same time, I was checking my facts about American colleges with a couple of friends.
Six months later, I sent the manuscript to Harlequin, and then had to wait for nine months for them to reject it! By this time, I’d written another novel which had been accepted (by another publisher) and was part way through two more. So the volcano story was put to one side.
I picked it up again last autumn. By this time, I was well aware of its weaknesses, particularly too many flashback scenes which slowed it down in the first few chapters, but I still thought it had possibilities, so I settled down to another re-write. I moved the setting (again!) back to England, abandoned the flashbacks, and added several more scenes to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine. Hawaii was now too far away, so I had to start researching volcanoes in Iceland. I made masses of notes but probably used only about five percent of what I’d found out about volcanic eruptions. However, that other ninety-five percent of research was necessary to ensure my five percent was reasonably accurate!
The final version of Changing the Future is very different from the one I wrote back in the 70s (I think I retained and adapted about three scenes from that original story). It’s different, too, from the re-write I did four year ago, not simply because of the different setting, but also because writing my other novels taught me a lot about tightening my writing style and developing my characters.
P.S. And, just to show that research for novels can come in useful elsewhere, I did win a point for my team in a pub quiz when I knew what a correlation spectrometer measures!
Thank you very much for that excellent post, Paula!
Paula Martin had some early publishing success with short stories and four contemporary romance novels, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching and has had two more novels published, His Leading Lady, and Fragrance of Violets. Another novel is currently awaiting release and she is working on a fifth.
Paula lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland. She’s also interested in musical theatre and tracing her family history.