Aug 4, 2014

Duets: double trouble or twice the fun?

by Michelle Douglas

Gentle reader, I know you’ve heard I have a duet out during July and August as I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops for months now. :-)

July: Her Irresistible Protector
August: The Rebel and the Heiress

The thing is, though, I never set out to write a duet. I sent a proposal to my editor for Her Irresistible Protector with an the off-the-cuff comment of, “It’d be fun to write Rick’s story next.” Rick being a secondary character in the story. Well, now…apparently this was the best idea I’d ever had and could I write it in a month? Uh, no.

So I thought I’d share some of the behind-the-scenes titbits that led to the creation of my duet.

As mentioned, I couldn’t meet the deadline for Her Irresistible Protector and then write the second book in a month. I mean I wasn’t even sure what Rick’s story was yet…I just wanted him to have one. So we jiggled my schedule a bit and I wrote a different book first -- Road Trip With the Eligible Bachelor if you wanted to know -- and then I dove into the duet.

In the first version of Her Irresistible Protector I had the climactic scene at the end of the novel occurring in Chapter 8. My editor asked me to rearrange the last 3 chapters so the story ended with that climactic scene instead. It was a lot of work, but in hindsight I’m grateful for the advice. I think it works much better.

Tash, the heroine of Book 1. is really angry at the beginning of the book. I was worried she might be too angry and alienate the reader. So I toned it down. The revision suggestion that made my heart sing was when my editor asked me to ramp that anger up. So I did. :)

The Rebel and the Heiress challenged me to stretch myself. You see there’s a family mystery in the shape of a treasure hunt that needs to be solved. Initially I was intimidated. How could I create halfway decent clues—believable clues and ooh-what’s-going-to-happen-next clues that would keep readers on the edge of their seats? I’m not a mystery writer. Reciting, “I am a goddess” over and over, I sat down one afternoon and created said clues. From then on the book wrote itself. It was a gift of a book. The revisions were ludicrously light. I loved writing that book.

And some fun facts:

* I originally wrote Her Irresistible Protector as a novella in some down time when I was between books. I was playing with the novella form. Unsuccessfully as it happens as these characters needed a full-length book. :-)

* I always have a theme song for my books. For Her Irresistible Protector it’s the Crowded House song “Don’t Dream it’s Over.” For The Rebel and the Heiress it’s Martika’s “Toy Soldiers.” But in this instance I also had a theme song for the Duet itself, which is a celebration of Tash and Rick’s friendship. Click here if you'd like to listen to it. This is my favourite line: "Cuz you still have my heartache and I still have your sweater." Don't you just love that?

* The Rebel and the Heiress has my favourite cover of all my books. I think it’s not only the most gorgeous cover I’ve ever received, but the most gorgeous cover ever. Full stop. But then I’m probably biased.

* I didn’t create the tag line for the duet but I love it: The Wild Ones—what will it take to tame these rebels?

* Also, The Rebel and the Heiress should come with a cupcake warning. You will want to eat cupcakes while reading it. I promise.

What about you, do you love duets?  Do you, like me, think they’re twice the fun?


  1. Love duets. Sometimes you just want to see what happens to the other character in a book. I love trilogies for the same reason! After that it takes a lot of time to read longer miniseries. I really like to read all the books that go together at one time so I'm not fond of series that go on and on with no visible end.

    1. I'm the same, Kaelee. I won't start a duet or trilogy until I have all the books so I can read them one after the other. I'm really grateful I didn't discover Sookie Stackhouse until last year when all of the books had already been released. :-)

  2. Hi Michelle

    I love duets and I loved both of these stories right from the start of Her Irresisitble Protecter I felt that Rick needed his own story and what a great one it was and as for those cup cakes mouth watering :)

    Have Fun

    1. Yay, Helen, another lover of duets! And an even bigger Yay!!! that you loved both of the stories. Readers like you make all the handwork of writing worthwhile. :-)

  3. MIchelle, I love the story of how these stories came about - and I almost sprouted grey hairs on your behalf when i read about you being asked if you could write Rick's story in a month! Yikes!

    Anyway, these linked books sound fabulous! I adore the cover on The Rebel and The Heiress, too... there's something radiant about it! I'd better get off to add to my TBR pile!

    1. Oh, yes, you really must add The Rebel and the Heiress to you TBR pile, Sharon. ;-)

      Seriously, though, the book in a month was just too crazy. I have written that quickly before, but it wasn't something I could guarantee (and I won't ever promise something I can't guarantee). So it was actually good to write my Road Trip book first to let the duet ideas percolate for a while.

  4. I enjoy writing duets, Michelle. It's like getting twice the bang for my words. some secondary characters just ask for their story to be written. But to only have a month to write the second one is hard work. Looking forward to reading these stories.

    1. Sue, I love it when secondary characters come to life like that. It'd be interesting too, to actually decide to write a duet and then come up with the characters and to see if that were tougher or not.

      As for writing a book in a month. It can be done…as long as one doesn't have a day job, children, a demanding spouse, elderly parents, doing f/time study and the book is almost plotted out and the author remains healthy. Just a short list there. ;-)

  5. Michelle, thanks for giving us a sneak peek inside the creation of these books!

    I love connected books, though I'm not fond of a series that goes on forever - I always end up losing interest. Two, three or four is perfect. :)

    1. I always find sneak peeks a bit of fun, Rach. :-)

      I'm a bit like you too and prefer a series to have only a few books (unless they're the Sookie Stackhouse books in which case I could barely get enough). What I hate, though, is a book that ends on a cliffhanger and I have to wait until the next one to find out what happens. That's so not fair.

  6. I love duets, trilogies and series. I just love connected characters and the chance to catch up with previous characters in later books. :)

    Marcy Shuler

    1. I love seeing what the hero and heroine of a previous book are up to in other linked books too, Marcy. It creates a lovely sense of community. :-) It always makes me wish I lived nearby.

  7. I love connected books whether they be duets, trilogies or ongoing series. However the caveat on ongoing series, is that will only love them so long as the author recognises that the series has reached a point that they should not force the story any further.

    Something tells me that even if your editor hadn't requested Rick and Nell's story, those two characters would have forced you to write their story - commissioned or not.
    You weren't unsuccessful at novella in writing Her Irresistible Protector - the characters just had other plans for you. I'm sure given the right characters that you will have successful novellas.

    I love the Wild Ones tagline.

    It's good to have the cupcake warning for The Rebel and the Heiress. Speaking of cupcakes, what's the best way to share the results once I make my Tiramisu Cupcake recipe - probably won't be until the end of next week. I'm thinking the Lovecats Facebook page is best, but not sure.

    I find it fun hearing the story behind the story from authors. I'm trying to recall which Aussie author has a section on her page where you can read the inspirations etc behind the writing of each book.

    1. Ah, good to see a devotee for all things that are series, Lyn! I do agree that one of the tricks an author has to master is knowing when the series has reached its end. I guess that can be a bit of a bittersweet moment for both writer and reader.

      As far as novellas go…it'd be lovely to master the form, but I do have a tendency to be a long-term commitment kinda gal, and by long-term I mean long length. But never say never. Who knows what characters will feature in my future. ;-)

      Ooh, as for the trialling of the cupcake recipe -- why don't you email me with the results and I'll share it on my post next month (which will be the 10th Sept). There can't be too much talk about cupcakes .;-) You know what -- I'll find a fancy cupcake recipe and trial it too. (You can email me at michelle (at) michelle - douglas . com )