I've just realised something. For the last six months I've been in my writer's cave, working on my latest novel (Euphoria, to be published on February 1st 2018) so haven't taken much notice of popular television programmes, including Holby City. For those in the States who don't know, this is a very long-running medical drama which goes out every Tuesday night, rather like ER, without roller-skating medics.
One of the main characters in Euphoria is Kurt Lomax, a Professor of Genealogy who runs the Pharmacure Research Facility, where the book is based. He's a difficult man, with OCD tendencies and no idea how to relate to his family. His marriage is failing, and he's still suffering from the effects of a traumatic childhood. He doesn't know how to show affection or love, but despite all that, he is capable of looking after the people in his employ and making sure they are treated fairly. Because of his extreme dietary needs (he's apparently coeliac and vegan) he's extremely lean.
Holby fans - does this remind you of anyone? (And current readers, please don't say "every other MC you've written" because yeah, I have a type. I know....)
He's dark-haired, with angular features and green eyes. And he has an excellent taste in suits. In fact, people never see him in anything else. At over six feet in height, his presence darkens the laboratory every time he is in residence. Most people are terrified of him.
Holby fans - How about now?
Here's a clue....Of course, from my writer's cave, I knew nothing of this. I tend not to watch long-running television shows or soaps anyway (traumatised by my mother's obsession with Crossroads...) So I was somewhat shocked to see Kurt Lomax staring back at me in glorious HD a couple of weeks' back. I had two instant reactions.
1. HOLY SHIT!!! (fanning myself.) It's pretty rare to see the man you've been crafting, writ large so you can see every facial tic,
2. Shit, people are going to think I stole him. They're going to think I've written fanfic! Oh God..... Which I haven't. Hand on heart. It's my muse shape-shifting again, testing my creativity. Sometimes he's Christopher Walken (circa True Romance), sometimes he's William Fichtner (circa Prison Break.) My heroes have never been hard-bodied, hairless pretty boys. I've had those in my S.A. Smythe books, sure, because they suited that kind of erotic premise, but no.
The men I write have to be conceivably real, with flaws, not conventionally handsome (okay, so Richard Mason (Closer Than Blood) was hot, to be honest.) But MY idea of handsome, good-looking, whatever, is just not the same as other peoples.' A friend said she saw Ryan Gosling as Richard. Great. I love that! Doesn't do it for me. I see him more as a hybrid of Christopher Walken as Gabriel in The Prophecy and Bryan Ferry, but I'm not going to impose that image on others. As a reader, you see what you want to see.
So when you read Euphoria, you might see Kurt as Gabriel Byrne or Aidan Turner or anyone else. But this is what I obviously see, as I've just discovered.....
Classically-trained actor Guy Henry as Henrik Hanssen in Holby City. He's even a CEO, for Heaven's sake, and I hadn't noticed him before? #alwaysthelasttoknow. So I make no apology for this, even though the geeks amongst you will recognise him as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Rogue One, and Pius Thicknesse in Harry Potter. (He's unrecognisable in both.)
This is who I've been working with for months, and I hadn't realised. They say never meet your characters in the flesh. Well, I haven't had the chance to meet Guy in the flesh. I really wish I could, but if I did, I'd probably get arrested for trying to lick him.
But assuming I didn't, how on earth would I be able to explain the tentacles?
"Well, you fall in love with an alien and bear their child, basically, but not in the normal way. And tentacles are involved. Twelve of them." Pause. "But it's okay. You don't die."
In the meantime, I hope Guy keeps gracing our screen as Henrik, who is getting more intense and agonised by the week, providing an hour of bliss every Tuesday. All he needs now is a good love affair with a non-binary alien, inner peace and the chance to experience childbirth.
And that's where I come in.
Euphoria is out on 1st February 2018.
Far in the future, Vardam’s planet has been destroyed, leaving the
non-binary life form drifting through space. By chance, they arrive on Earth, and find a human race all but wiped out by a man-made super-bug.
Saddened by the pointless destruction, and fascinated by human beings' past achievements, Vardam is determined not to let the race destroy itself. At great personal risk, they step back through time and space to Kurt Lomax’s laboratory, where the drug that begins the chain reaction of destruction is still at the research stage.
Vardam has no idea how to deal with humans in 2025. Amongst them there is Tom, out of his depth as the interpreter employed to communicate with them, and the Head Scientist, Kurt Lomax, who has a profound effect on the interstellar traveller.
Kurt's marriage is on the rocks and his relationship with his teenage daughter is at an all-tim low. He is under extreme pressure to produce profitable results, and the last thing he needs is an alien arriving to tell him his pet project will bring about Armageddon.
In the Bunker, deep underground where Kurt and his team have their laboratory, they have almost forgotten what it means to be human. It takes Vardam and Tom’s arrival for love to blossom, before a misunderstanding threatens to destroy Kurt and ruin Vardam’s plans for a peaceful alliance between the Var people and the human race.