Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Once Upon Stilettos Reread: Chapters Three and Four

It's re-read commentary time again (mostly because original thought is escaping me). Today I'll cover chapters three and four of Once Upon Stilettos.

I have to say that re-reading this book has become a total nostalgia trip. I'm remembering the process of writing it and all the stuff that had been living in my head before I wrote it. In a weird way, this book was kind of like my own fanfic for my own series. I'd written the first book but didn't want to invest time in writing a second until I knew it would sell, but I was still making up stories in my head in that world. Selling the book and a sequel gave me the chance to write those stories down. The whole book didn't come from that, but there were a lot of scenes that had their origins in daydreaming about these characters.

So, chapter three really gets into the plot about the mole within the company, which allowed me to play with all the corporate life tropes. One of my early descriptions of the series was "Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter and goes to work with Dilbert." I didn't get to do quite as much of that as I wanted in the first book, so this plot let me go crazy with all the stuff I remembered from my corporate life (and I was doing freelance work at the time I was writing it, so I was still embedded in corporate America). There was the office grapevine more powerful than the CIA, where everyone knew everyone's business. I slipped in the reference to Merlin reading Who Moved My Cheese? because my original concept of the character, before I decided he was Merlin, was a wizard who'd been out of commission for a long time and who was getting re-oriented by reading modern business books. I didn't go quite as far with that as I originally planned because Merlin turned out to be too sensible, but my plan had been for the boss to go from management fad to management fad, depending on which book he'd just read. That was based on my corporate experience, where it seemed like we had one company retreat a year in which they presented a whole new plan to make us like our jobs more and do our jobs better based on yet another management fad.

Then there was the introduction of the frog boss. That was a nod to the cover art. I fell so in love with the businessman frog on the cover of the first book that I wrote him into the second book. I had a draft of the cover for the first book while I was writing the second one, so I was inspired to write him in as a character.

Chapter four was my sneaky way of working in some quasi-romantic scenes between Katie and Owen when they weren't actually romantically involved. I'm a big fan of the slow-build romance, and having Katie be dating someone else allowed me to develop a strong friendship between her and Owen. I think that also worked with his character, where he was too shy to ask her on a real date, but he could manage "hey, wanna grab dinner?" on the way home from work. And then readers got to see lots of the two of them together and bonding. I did have a specific diner in mind. It's near Union Square, and I ate a meal there when I was researching the book.

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