So, Ms Myers, tell us how you came to write “The Scarlet Brocade”?
Well I believe it’s common knowledge that I prefer to write naked. It’s incredibly freeing and puts me in touch with my... muse.
Sadly, people are very closed-minded and prudish these days, much more so than in the 70s, and it caused me to be evicted from any number of cafes, as well as the public library. Which did make it difficult with Scarlet as I couldn’t get much writing done at home either. Darling Rupert is retired now you see, and the sight of me naked sent him into such paroxysms of lust that it was impossible for me not to tend to the poor boy. My editor told me to ignore him; she may be able to ignore a man sulking about the house with a gigantic erection and a pout, but I most certainly can’t. At first I thought it was excellent research for the intimate scenes in Scarlet, of which you’ll be aware there are scores, but I said to myself, Fenella, the time has come to put pen to paper rather than pen… you get my drift. You’d think I’d be able to sort him out in the mornings and write in the afternoons, but my Rupert is very energetic for a man in his late 60s.
So there I was, with characters and scenes swirling wildly through my brain, but with a concupiscent husband at home, and a trespass order from most of town. I write all my manuscripts longhand, and I did try sneaking in a few sentences while Rupert and I were assuaging his lust, but it was just too hard. So to speak. Oh, I could get the sentences down alright, but it was awfully difficult to decipher them later. That was, in fact, my inspiration for the scene where Charlotte writes her terribly moving letter to Mr Reynolds while on the stagecoach to London, explaining why their love can never be, but he can’t make out what it says and pursues her anyway. As you’ll recall, that turned out very well for both of them.
Anyway, given that I write longhand, with no need for power sockets, I finally struck upon the perfect solution. You may be aware that there’s a nudist beach not more than 10 miles from here. Do you know it? No? Oh, you really must visit it sometime. I’ll confess that sand can be uncomfortable, but a quick dip in the sea washes it out of all the intimate places, which is a rather pleasant sensation. You’ll recall the scene where Mrs Banting and her stable boy end up at the seaside? Quite direct inspiration I had for that scene. Lifeguard rather than stable boy of course. Don’t mention it to Rupert will you? He’s open-minded but of a somewhat jealous disposition.
So that is, in essence, how I wrote Scarlet. Nude, on the beach, in longhand in my notebook. I did have a couple of unfortunate sunburn incidents, when I was particularly absorbed in a scene and lost track of the time, but once the peeling was over I was able to sit down again. I engaged a lovely young typist to transcribe the longhand into the word processor - I can’t stand the things, but a typed manuscript is a necessity these days, apparently. She did rather excite Rupert, despite being clothed, but as I was free to occupy him it wasn’t a problem.
I’ve just started writing my new novel, The Salt on his Lips, but as it’s winter I’ve been having renewed trouble with finding a suitable location. Too cold on the beach of course, and the drop in temperature has not cooled Rupert’s ardour in the slightest. However, I believe the trespass orders expire very soon…