This week has seen the release of Margaret James’s long-awaited new novel – Girl in Red Velvet. The book is set in the sixties and miles away from the Yorkshire moors, but today on the Choc Lit blog, Margaret is talking about its similarities to one of her favourite works of fiction – Wuthering Heights!
This month, I’m delighted to have a new novel published by Choc Lit and to be able to tell you how I came to write it.
I’ve always loved Wuthering Heights, which was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager, and which remained a favourite throughout my twenties, thirties, forties and beyond.
As I have grown older, I have come to admire the novel and its creator even more than I did when I was young, impressionable and often drawn to attractive bad boys like the dangerous and terrifying but (to a starry-eyed teenager, anyway) irresistible Heathcliff.
How did a motherless girl living in a remote village in 19th century Yorkshire come to understand the power of such a horrible man? Who did she meet that inspired the wayward but charismatic Catherine Earnshaw? Did Emily Brontë know a real Edgar Linton, a man who was fatally drawn to the volatile Catherine while knowing all along that she was completely wrong for him? It’s taken me nearly fifty years, but at last I’ve got round to writing my own take on this difficult situation in my fan fiction tribute to one of my favourite classic novelists.
The three main characters in Girl in Red Velvet are just as flawed as those in Wuthering Heights. But nobody lives on the Yorkshire moors. Nobody is as wicked as Heathcliff, as difficult to love as Catherine or as saintly as Edgar Linton. I have given the stories of all three of my central characters – Lily Denham, Harry Gale and Max Farley – what I hope is a resolution that’s satisfying for the reader and also for them.
But, at the same time, I’ve tried to keep it real. I’m not Lily, but she says and does things I and many other women have said and done. She makes mistakes, she takes wrong turnings and she chooses unwisely. When things go wrong for Lily, it’s often because she consciously made a bad decision and then found she had to live with it. But she also tries to do the right thing, even though this is often hard.
As for Max and Harry – unlike Heathcliff and Edgar Linton, who are implacable enemies, Max and Harry are best friends. Then Lily comes between them. It soon looks as if it’s going to be impossible for any of them to find their personal happy-ever-afters. But I’ve tried to suggest a few possibilities. I hope I leave everyone in the places they want and deserve to be – and the reader with a smile on her face!