Romancing the Pages and Purple Orchids

Orange County RWA, my home chapter, released an anthology of seventeen stories this week - including one by me, Purple Orchids.

Purple Orchids is short (Only about 3k words?), and it's about one of the secondary characters in Sweet Surrender, Daphne White.

Daphne has been an interesting character for me to write. She started out as a foil for the heroine of Sweet Surrender, Caroline Small: as naive as Caro was cynical, as innocent as Caro was jaded, spoiled and socially secure where Caro clings to the far edges of respectability.

I didn't think very highly of Daphne, at first. Her negative qualities are more obvious than her positive ones: she's oblivious, self-centered, and thoughtless. She's a little flighty and takes stupid risks for dumb reasons.

I didn't think she'd get her own story - I had no interest in spending so much time in her scatterbrained, fluffy POV. But the more I wrote Daphne, the more I understood her as a character. And that character? Way less fluffy than she'd started out -- and way more interesting than I'd expected.

Daphne was always the kind of girl who'd befriend Caro. Daphne could queen around with the in crowd, but instead she adopts a misfit? Hmm. That's interesting.

And Daphne was always a gifted painter. My academic background is in art history so I was careful to think about how to make Daphne a noteworthy painter without having her make innovations that were still decades in the future. For me, she works in the tradition of J.M.W. Turner, with a turn toward the mythological that positions her as a precursor to symbolism.

But Daphne's painting isn't all native talent and rearview-mirror innovations. She also wakes up before dawn every morning so she can paint en plein air when the light is best. So she's got a little more grit than you might assume, given that she's a blonde-haired, blue-eyed babe.

Daphne's gotten away with a fair bit of troublemaking without ever experiencing much in the way of consequences, and that's had an impact on her character...not for the better, alas. But she's smarter than people give her credit for, loyal, with a lot of emotional integrity, and she's bold. She believes in her own talent, which is real, and she loves being alive. She gets joy from little things. She's kind.

Actually, I've come to realize, Daphne is awesome.

So Purple Orchids is a little slice of Daphne's life. I think when the rights on the anthology expire I'm going to expand the story into a novella -- a erotic novella that ends unhappily, maybe. Daphne needs a bit of tragedy to season her, but I can see an HEA in her future.

You can see my visual inspiration for Daphne and other characters in Sweet Surrender on the Pinterest board I've made for the novel, here.

And you can buy the anthology Romancing the Pages at Amazon.