Today I am so pleased to welcome Joanna Chambers back to Joyfully Jay. Joanna has come to talk to us about her new release, Unnatural, a story set in the Enlightenment world. She has also brought along…. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
The Origin of Unnatural
It’s funny how some stories get started.
Unnatural is a spin-off of my Enlightenment (David and Murdo) trilogy. The MCs of Unnatural are Captain Iain Sinclair and James Hart, and their story began with Iain.
In truth, Iain had a humble start. He first appeared in Beguiled (book 2 of the trilogy) and initially he was no more than ‘human furniture’. His job was simply to be the guy standing next to Murdo in a particular scene, so that David could look at Murdo and see him murmuring in someone’s ear. But right from the beginning, Iain began asserting himself. He refused to be unexceptional. He had a glossy moustache and blue, twinkling eyes and a very white smile. He was a soldier who wore a scarlet uniform. No sooner had I described him, than I found myself looking up uniform websites, selecting – quite unnecessarily– his rank, file and serial number. I became a little obsessed by the shape and colour of his shako.
The more details I added to Beguiled about Iain, the more he intrigued me, and the more page time he got. He was charming and devil may care but there was something dark in him too. He was, I knew, more than he seemed.
After finishing the final David and Murdo book, I wasn’t quite ready to put them aside. Quite a few readers mentioned to me that they would like to read something in Murdo’s POV, and I found myself (following the nomination of Provoked for the DABWAHA tournament) committing myself to writing a short. I decided to set that story in the two year gap between books 1 and 2 and to use it to show why Murdo decided to return to Scotland in book 2. That story was published as Seasons Pass (available free here).
I could’ve written that story any number of ways, but I focused on a particular comment Murdo makes to David in the final book about something he witnessed in the past—I decided to depict that scene and to make it pivotal to his decision to return to Scotland. And then, when I was writing it, who should crop up again but Captain Iain Sinclair? I didn’t plan for him to be there, but suddenly he was. And once he was there, I had to give him a role, didn’t I?
So very serendipitous.
I found myself writing a brief confrontation between Iain and another man – James. At that point, I didn’t know their story. Knew nothing about James at all, had no idea what old wounds Iain carried. I wrote the brief scene between them – through Murdo’s eyes – as a sort of puzzle to myself, to solve later.
It was only some time later that I really began to turn my mind to who James was, how he and Iain had met, what their history was. Why they said the things they did to each other in Seasons Pass. I tinkered with several different outlines before I found the one that fit. One in which they were childhood friends. One in which Iain, for all his ready smiles, transpired to be a man driven by the heavy burden of a long-held guilt and familial duty. One in which James – a scientist – liberated Iain from those chains with determined reason.
That whole set-up fit—fit perfectly actually—with everything that had gone before in the Enlightenment series. And so it’s ended up that Unnatural isn’t just some ‘spin-off’ book to me, it’s something much more. A sort of love letter, to science and reason.
Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.
Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.
James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.
In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
Joanna has brought a copy of Unnatural to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, December 6th at 11:59 pm EST.
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