Today is the birthday of my Facebook friend, Patti Jones, a lovely lady who has been patient in awaiting Sir Abel Wulfrith’s story. Since THE KINDLING: Book Four won’t release for nearly two more weeks (fingers crossed), I’m unable to give it to her as a birthday present. But what I can give her is what I’ve been promising readers for some time now–the conversation (yes, imagined) that made me postpone the rewrite of my 1994 Bantam Books release, WARRIOR BRIDE, in order to tell Abel’s story. Happy birthday, Patti!
Late February, 2013
You again? Sorry, Abel, but I don’t have time—lots to do before I pick up Junior Too from school.
’Tis a final scene you are writing?
Yep. And since this is the last book in the series, everything has to come together just right to satisfy the readers who have followed the Wulfriths from “The Unveiling” to “The Yielding” and are now awaiting “The Redeeming.”
Don’t start in on me again.
‘Tis your fault, troubadour. You placed me in Helene’s path.
I did. She was important to the plot, just as you are.
But not enough to warrant a book of our own.
I didn’t say that. As I told you before, there are three books in the Age of Faith series. Three, not four.
Then you went to all that trouble to develop my back story—nearly killed me—for naught?
Not for naught! And be happy, won’t you? I could have made you more cardboard than flesh and bone. But, no, I believe secondary characters, especially recurring ones, should come as alive to readers as primary characters.
Most generous, and yet now you abandon us.
How can you sit there quaffing that brown slop and writing the story of Gaenor and her husband who, I will admit, is not nearly as bad as you led me to believe, and all the while Helene and I languish in your imagination?
Of course Christian Lavonne isn’t bad. He’s the hero, after all. But as for calling my latte names, just because it isn’t wine or ale doesn’t make it slop.
That is what it looks to be. What is it?
Coffee which, in my time, is more popular than what you drink. In this case, it’s diluted with milk.
A child’s drink!
Abel, you really need to let me get back to work.
What about Helene? If you find me undeserving of my own book, give her one.
Starring you as her leading man?
There was an attraction between us and, as you know, neither is she—what did you call it?—cardboard. And don’t forget the bond that exists between her son and me.
Don’t worry, Abel, I’ll tie up all the loose ends before I write “The End.”
Loose ends? Is that what Helene and I are to you? Sounds demeaning.
It’s not. Trust me.
Trust you who dangles a woman like her before me, then turns your back on us?
Aargh! I didn’t tell you to fall for her. In fact, not only did I not make her beautiful, but I gave her red hair and light freckling which you do not find attractive.
I believe you need to reacquaint yourself with my character and back story, troubadour. There is far more to me than a man attracted only to outward beauty. I had that once, remember?
I know, I know.
If it will get you off my shoulder—though you’re ruining my surprise—I’ll tell you my plans for you and Helene.
In the epilogue of “The Redeeming,” I’ll mention that the two of you are exploring a relationship.
You’re taking this too personally, Abel. Hey! Don’t think I’m intimidated by a medieval POPO flexing his hand on his sword hilt. In fact, if I don’t want that hand of yours to flex, it won’t.
What is this…POPO?
Person On Paper Only—a fictional character. You.
Not in the minds of your readers. You may not care for me, but I believe they do.
Abel, look, maybe—and I’m only saying maybe—one day I’ll revisit you and Helene, perhaps write your romance as a novella.
That is not the same as a novel?
It’s a short novel—one third, maybe half as long.
What is it about me you do not like, troubadour?
I do like you. You’re perfect hero material.
After “The Redeeming,” I plan to rewrite my medieval novels that were published in the nineties and which I’ve put on hold too many times already. Speaking of which, I need to contact my graphic artist and get her started on a new cover.
I do not know what any of that means, but I do know you are making a grave mistake in denying Helene and me our story.
Abel, it takes a minimum of six months for me to write a full-length novel—
Thus, if you start now, you could give your readers the fourth novel this fall.
Best case scenario, yes, but as I said, I have other commitments. Besides, there has to be considerable conflict between the hero and heroine to carry a whole story, and the conflict between you and Helene is pretty easily resolved. Like I said: Epilogue.
Then do that thing you did for Garr and Annyn, Michael and Beatrix, and Christian and Gaenor. Give us more conflict in those final scenes.
Like kill you off?
Is that a threat?
One without substance. However, I do need to have some of the good guys killed and badly injured to make the final battle believable.
You could injure me. As a warrior, I am accustomed to blood and scars.
That’s certainly a possibility. But I’d still be left with a romance that has little place to go outside of Helene being the one to care for you as you recover from your injuries.
It sounds as if you need to give her more of that back story you believe to be so important.
I…suppose I could.
Of course you can. You are my favorite troubadour, do you not know?
Are you buttering me up, Abel?
Butter…ing? Why would I do that when ‘tis not my desire to anger you but to convince you to give Helene and me our story?
It’s just an expression. It means to charm.
Ah. Just as I prefer wine and ale to your slop, I prefer the word “charm” over an item of food to refer to my ability to gain your cooperation. So we are in agreement?
We are not.
Then would you consider a wager?
Sorry, no dice.
I have some.
Of course you do, you rascal. But no. No wager.
A deal, then.
I need to get back to writing.
All the more reason to hear me out. Here is the deal: I shall remain silent the rest of this day—
Only the rest of today?
Very well. This day and tomorrow.
Only today and tomorrow?
I shall remain silent as you write the final scenes, during which you shall make an effort to provide Helene and me with more conflict.
Aye, and if you are truly serious about satisfying your readers, I trust you will discover there is another story in your series. Mayhap two.
Have you forgotten my brother, Everard? Or do you just not like bald men?
Hey, he’s bald by choice, not because of male pattern baldness.
Do I sense more back story?
Maybe. Or maybe he just doesn’t have time to spend on his hair.
Still, ‘tis something to think upon.
Do we have a deal?
Did you know I, myself, am quite good at storytelling?
You are not! You’re a warrior, not a guy who travels castle to castle earning his living by spinning tales, reciting poetry, and singing. Believe me, that is not part of your back story
Ask Helene’s son, John. Nearly as much as he likes playing at swords, he likes the tales that have accompanied our practice.
You are putting words in my…pen, Abel.
Ah, aye. And if you promise to give Helene and me our due, I shall give you more words and will sit with you while you drink that—I forget what you call it.
Slop. I shall sit with you and direct your quill and inspire you beyond a silly log, even beyond—
You mean epilogue?
That. Even beyond a vellum.
That too. Deal?
You are persistent.
Indeed I am.
I suppose you could be a candidate to be severely injured.
Not too severely.
To a point. And I could even throw in a facial scar to give you a bit more character.
Really? You don’t mind? After all, you’re pretty good looking and accustomed to women finding your appearance pleasing.
As long as Helene doesn’t mind, I am well with that—and providing I can swing a sword again.
I will be able to, will I not?
Sure, though I certainly won’t make it easy on you.
To read an excerpt of THE KINDLING, visit: www.tamaraleigh.com