This is the first book where I started with a blank page, where I had no characters nor story nor opening situation brewing away in my brain. I started with nothing but a question: what on earth am I going to write about this time? I started a list of the obvious suspects--secret baby, marriage of convenience, one-night pregnancy--but nothing excited me until I added sister swap to the list.
The inspiration harks back to The Parent Trap (the Hayley Mills original) and follows through numerous stories. My favourite romance built on this premise is Susan Napier's The Sister Swap. My good friend Trish Morey wrote a fabulous duo with substitute sisters, The Boss's Christmas Baby and The Shiekh's Convenient Virgin. As a child I fantasised about being a twin; I suspect because I had twin neighbours who were so close.
For my stories, I decided against identical twins. I didn't want the dichotomy of good-girl/bad-girl either. I wanted a plausible, empathetic excuse for the role switch, and as I developed the storyline I realised that the swap would be backstory. My story would be the mess of complications arising from mistaken identity.
Toss in a one-night stand between strangers, an unplanned pregnancy, family interference and loyalty, and I had the basis of my story...or I should say, stories. Because my next book will be the continuation, the second sister's story.
The planning process happened to coincide with a trip to England...an unanticipated trip, the result of a win in a prize draw. Yes, those ones you see advertised are won by random people. In my case a trip to London for 2, flights, and 5 nights' accommodation, which proved perfect for scoping out locations for Cristo's Belgravia townhouse and his country estate. Perfect for wandering along Bond Street and in and out of galleries; for imagining the settings and the scenes for this book.
Isabelle's job, as a temp. housekeeper to the visiting wealthy, evolved from my previous book. At Your Service, an elite concierge service based in Melbourne, first appeared in Tycoon's One-Night Revenge. When Miriam Horton took over management during that book, I knew the services would expand. Providing temp. domestic staff seemed like a perfect offshoot, tailor-made for Isabelle's employment.
With a magnate and a maid, I could not pass up the opportunity of including a Cinderella touch...although Isabelle's shoes-and-shopping makeover is reluctant. She prefers to treat her English sojourn as make-believe and Cristo's interest in her as a novelty whim. She is far too practical to believe in the magical prospect of happy-ever-after, but luckily I (and Cristo) had other ideas.