Last time I talked about how as I wrote The Truth About Faking (link) the whole story changed ("The Story That Wasn't"). In the case of ROUGE, however, the story pretty much turned out exactly as I planned it.
I got the idea walking in my neighborhood one fall day. A melancholy little song came on my iPod ("Complainte de la Butte"), and I thought, "What if there was a girl who tried to help another, younger girl, and it all went terribly wrong?"
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I imagined main character Hale saving Teeny from starving, only to discover her "salvation" brought her into a situation worse than hunger. I imagined a carnivalesque "family" Hale turns to for help…
In the first chapter, readers learn the girls' theater-home is a front for prostitution, and Teeny's getting old enough to "earn her keep." Hale's desperate to keep that from happening, so the questions become what will Hale do to make it right? How far will she go to protect this little girl?
Then I started thinking about problems like time. I knew it would have to be set either in the future, post-apocalyptic-style, or in the past.
So I went with the past. Hale's doing her best to con a rich Parisian suitor into proposing to her and taking them both away. Then she meets Beau. Falling in love complicates everything.
Writing ROUGE was the first time I stuck with the plan (for the most part) in one of my books. It's full of theater and New Orleans and romance. It has sexy moments; it has dark moments. I hope you guys love it as much as I do!
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Thanks again, Jessica!
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