Sunday, 11 December 2011

An important paragraph - The Lady's Slipper


I thought I would post a paragraph featuring Ella Appleby, the housemaid in The Lady's Slipper. Although she is not the main character she is the cause of much of the strife in the novel, and the person I have received most mail about. Although most of the feedback has been that she is a 'nasty piece of work' (to quote one letter) I take this to be a good omen for she has become the lead character in the next book, The Gilded Lily, and at least she is creating some reaction!

As a character she is brazen and manipulative and not very likeable, so in The Gilded Lily I get the chance to show what incident in her past made her that way, and to give her space for some sort of redemption or atonement. One of the difficulties in writing her was that in The Lady's Slipper she is the engine of the story and so her motivations were of necessity hidden from the reader. One of the reasons I think she works in her role as antagonist is because she appears to have no moral compass. This made her a challenge to write a whole book about, but one I enjoyed tackling. She had to grow both in depth and in humanity if The Gilded Lily was to succeed. In the second book we see much more of her relationship with Sadie, her younger sister. This allowed me to examine how Ella had constructed her family memories to suit herself and that these were at odds with how her life really was. Sadie enables Ella to see herself a lot more clearly and thus begin to change into a different person. The Gilded Lily will be published by Pan Macmillan in September 2012.

The paragraph I have chosen is the one where things have begun to go wrong for Ella, and the one where I suddenly knew I had to write another book to finish her story......


Still clutching the bolster to her chest, as if holding it would somehow hold her together, Ella moved to the window. Outside there was a glow on the horizon. Dawn. She felt nothing. It surprised her. No sorrow for his passing. But she knew there would be a hue and cry as soon as they knew he was dead, and that there would be no place for her when his brother arrived, except as the butt of his boot.
She must get away from here. She started for the door, but then turned back. She would need some things to sell. In a panic she lunged for the silver candlesticks on the dressing table, but in the dark she knocked one over and it clattered to the ground.The noise of it startled her and she realized she was trembling.
‘Get a grip, girl,’ she said to herself. ‘Think. Just think.’ It was as if her thoughts were tangled like brambles; she could not unravel them. She plucked the one thought that made sense. She had to go somewhere far away, where they could never catch up with her. The devil was on her heels, searching for her soul, and he already had hold of her skirts.
‘Oh, Jesus,’ she groaned. ‘Sadie.’ Her heart heaved.
She could not leave her sister behind.


The Lady's Slipper - Available on Kindle and in Paperback

'Top Pick!' RT Book Reviews
'Women's Fiction at its best' History and Women
'Brilliant saga' Romance Reviews today
'Rich and haunting' Reading the Past
'Utterly captivating' Karen Maitland, author of The Owl Killers
'Riveting narrative' For the Love of Books




10 comments:

sonia said...

I can't wait to read this! She sounds like great fun to read about.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Great section - really looking forward to The Gilded Lily!

Frances Garrood said...

A really tantalising exerpt, Dee!

Tim Stretton said...

I found Ella an interesting--and not wholly unsympathetic--character in The Lady's Slipper, so I'm pleased to hear she is on centre stage next time.

Ellie said...

I still think your cover is one of the loveliest in the MNW stable. That blue . . . Looking forward to the next one.

Eliza Graham said...

Ellie being me, Eliza. Seems I've reverted again.

Len Tyler said...

Really enjoyed re-visiting this section of the book. I look forward to meeting Ella again ...

Deborah Swift said...

Thank you for your lovely comments everyone.

Ann Weisgarber said...

This passage shows why "The Lady's Slipper" is such a success. The phrases -- "tangled like brambles" and "plucked the thought" -- remind readers of plants and gardens but in an unpleasant way. That suits Sadie's character.

Dee, congratulations on the upcoming "The Gilded Lily." It's coming out in the States too, isn't it?

Alis said...

This has so whetted my apetite for The Gilded Lily. When's publication date?