The Hard Bargain: Story and Process

by | July 23, 2019 |

My latest release, The Hard Bargain, is now available on your preferred e-book platforms. I love the cover. Both crisp and dreamy.

It is part of my Love and the City trilogy.

The Hard Bargain: The Story

The Hard Bargain a modern-day marriage of convenience story.

Marriage of convenience stories are a version of the medieval love potion trope. It’s the one where you fall in love with the first person you see after drinking the potion. In the modern version, instead of a love potion, a condition is set. The first person to come along who can fulfill that condition becomes the love interest.

In The Hard Bargain the hero has to be married by a certain date in order to retain his inheritance. Because he otherwise has no interest in marriage, he makes a bargain with the first woman he sees to play his fiancée, an actress he meets while visiting his best friend who is a playwright. They make a deal …

… and, in the end, they really do fall in love.

The Hard Bargain: My Process

I began writing The Hard Bargain last year while sitting in the lobby of the Lisbon Marriott in Lisbon, Portugal, pictured here:

I spent a lot of time in the yellow chair with the blue pillow in the lower left. From that angle I could keep my eye on the front door. Unfortunately, the week before, my luggage had been stolen in Angola. So I was in the lobby waiting for Fed Ex deliveries from my son in the States. He wasn’t sending me much, but it was essential.

I have already recounted my sad story from Angola. And I have also written about the stupidity (near futility) of trying to get anything through Portuguese customs. In the six days I was in Lisbon, I did go sight-seeing one day. Otherwise I was on duty in the lobby hoping for the Fed Ex guy to show up.

The Hard Bargain: My Entertainment

I didn’t mind hanging out in the lobby. It was very lively, amazingly so. And I wasn’t in much of a touristy mood after the misadventure in Angola anyway. So, what to do?

I’m always happy reading. However, after a few days I figured writing a new story would be more entertaining. I had just read two modern marriage of convenience stories in a row, and so an idea for one came to me.

I usually keep a writing log, typically just scribbles on the first page of the manuscript. From my heading I see I started the story on July 5. My datebook tells me I left Lisbon on July 7. So it looks like I wrote Chapter One and maybe a part of Chapter Two in the lobby.

The Hard Bargain

The Hard Bargain: The Story Continues

From Lisbon I flew to Bucharest. I finished the story five weeks later in August, while I was still in Romania.

The Hard Bargain

I conceived of the story as a three-act play, with Acts One and Three set in New York City and Act Two in the British Virgin Islands (BVI on my notes). The book cover captures this dichotomy.

In other words, the story has nothing to do with Portugal. However, I did make my heroine, Carla Pereira, who was born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, the daughter of a Portuguese immigrant.

I visited the BVI about 10 years ago, and I wrote the Act Two settings of The Hard Bargain from memory. It usually takes me a while after either visiting a place or living there to use it as a setting.

For instance, I bought a condo in Orlando, Florida in 2006 and sold it last year. Only now that I have no reason to go there am I going to use it in my writing. Orlando is the setting for the second book in my Buy Me Love Shapeshifter Series, which I’m starting next month.

Who knows when I’ll use Lisbon as backdrop.

Or Mongolia.

In 2014 I spent six weeks in Ulan Bator at Mongolian Language School. Mostly what I remember about Ulan Bator is that it has a ton of Korean restaurants.

Here’s an example. The Cyrillic letters transliterate to: Solongos Restoran.

Now here’s the cool thing: the Mongolian word for Korean is solongos ‘rainbow.’ My teacher told me it’s because Koreans have such colorful traditional dress.

Oops, I digress. Back to my current story.

The Hard Bargain: The Story

Marriage of convenience stories are easier to motivate in a historical novel – probably because marriages of convenience actually existed in previous ages. However, today, not so much. But then the implausibility of the plot device is part of the challenge. It’s one thing to convince the reader that the accidental hero and heroine belong together. It’s another to be able to credibly normalize a far-fetched plot.

Have I done it?

The Hard Bargain is available now on your preferred e-book platform!

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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