A regurgitated novel that was originally meant for the Mills & Boon market.

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When I get an idea I don’t automatically head to my computer. I’ll play with it in my head and if it sticks around, gets bigger or I develop a character out of it, I’ll write a couple of chapters and see if it gains momentum.


With my latest release, The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am was originally for the Mills and Boon market. I wrote it years ago (somewhere in the darks ages of 1990s), but today’s Misanthrope you wouldn’t recognise from yesterday’s. Back then it was called Please Don’t Fall in Love, only 55,000 words and my leading lady, Valerie, was roll-over-and-smile type of woman who’d do anything for her man. 

When it was rejected, I stuck it in my drawer and forgot about it. Then, years later in a house move I discovered it and felt I could do something with it. Instead of a roll-over-and-smile woman Valerie became as hard as nails and suffered no fools… unfortunately she became wrapped up with her inner demons and allowed the ‘fools’ to run her life but with surprising consequences. 



The male lead isn’t cold and ‘aloof’ as most Mills and Boon characters were back then, but cheeky and flirty. Because Valerie is such a dark character I needed that balance of fun, fun, fun!

My leading man, Lex Kendal, is rich and successful (I kept that from M and B) but he stopped being a caricature character and more of a blokey bloke: he got things wrong with women, including his daughter. He tried to be romantic with Valerie and ‘woo’ her but kept getting it so wrong.

Then, I injected my third character: Ellen. Even though she’s one of the minor characters she is the book’s glue. She introduces Valerie and Lex and she sorts them out when the relationship goes pear shape. She’s the one who also discovers something mystical about Valerie and Lex’s ‘destined to meet’ relationship.

I also added an epilogue and a prologue. They say that readers, agents and publishes don’t like these, but I’ve done something different with mine that I’ve not seen done before and I’m a little proud of it (self congratulates). 


The opening epilogue is Valerie as a child and the closing prologue carries up where it left off and completely wraps up the book with a little twist.

I could say this book took thirty years to write, but I won’t. You wouldn’t recognise the old M and B book to this one, so from the moment I pulled the old MS from the drawer in the house move I say it took two years of rewrites and editing using Cornerstones and Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau for editing and advisory services.

I labelled it ‘dark chick lit’ but it’s been slow to build its audience in that genre, so now I’ve labelled it as ‘dark contemporary romance’ and slowly but surely it’s moving.




Chick lit has a dark side:

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am

Valerie Anthrope doesn’t believe in happy-ever-afters and has no time for relationships. Her heart is as hard as her acrylic nails. She runs a small back-street brokerage, happy with her own company and financial reports.


But she has a secret. She doesn’t admit it to anyone–even herself. She’s depressed. And her lack of sleep and too many caffeine pills are beginning to have an effect. She has dreams that don’t make sense, but know they hold the key to her illness.


Ellen Semple is a middle-aged busy body who thinks a ‘nice cup of tea’ is the cure to all ills.


Lex Kendal is sexy and rich, and thinks he can have any woman he wants–and he wants Valerie.


Would a one-night stand matter? After all, Valerie isn’t into relationships. Could she remain disinterested enough, and keep her secret away from the ever-prying Ellen?



What happens when a moody and bad-tempered ‘chick lit’ character is interviewed.

Character Interview
Valerie Anthrope from the novel The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch
therefore I am
Welcome, Valerie. How are you
today?
I’m here aren’t I? *Looks at watch* Can we get on with it. I haven’t
all day.
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Er, sure. Tell us about
yourself? Where were you born/grew up? Your background?
I’m twenty-six and I was born in North Finchley in London. I grew up
there too. I lived with my parents and brother until—
Until?
Until things started to go wrong. Oh, I suppose I should tell you. They
say it’s therapeutic talking about ones problems, don’t they? I was eight years
old, and Mum had always been neurotic, guess that’s where I get it from, and
when I was eight she had a baby. All was fine until we went to that funfair and
I met a witch *embarrassed cough*. Oh, I know she wasn’t a witch now, but tell that to an eight year old
kid.
Go on.
The witch told me that everyone I loved would die. I’d have forgotten
about it in time, I suppose, only that night Sean, my brother, died. My mum, as
I’d said, was already over-anxious and became obsessed with my heath after his
death. Dad had withdrawn, so I felt I was on my own. Imagine having your health
analysed all the time and vitamin tables wrapped up so they looked like sweet,
and then not being about to discuss it with anyone. That’s what it was like. But,
anyway, she committed suicide when I was sixteen, so—

What!
You heard right. With hindsight, we should have seen it coming and got
her help, but that’s hindsight for you. Anyway, a week later my dad died. He
had a heart attack. Apparently, he had a bad heart, only I didn’t know that at
the time. He’d already had a heart attack when I younger.
So, you were on your own at
seventeen? What about other relatives?
There was only my nan. She sold her house and came to live with me, but
she was old and died a year later. I was a well-off eighteen year old! *Hollow
laugh*. But I’d have returned all the money to have my parents and brother
back.
What did you do? How’d you cope?
I inherited my dad’s love for numbers and took an accountancy course at
college. He was a maths teacher, but I didn’t fancy teaching kids. *Shudders*.
In the end, I went into finance and ended up with my own brokerage with Sunny
Oak. Then I met a man, Matt, and fell in love.

Oh good! A happy ending!

No, I dumped him. He became too clingy. Truth of the matter is, I began
waking in the night for no reason. I was dreaming horrible things that woke me up,
yet I couldn’t remember what they were about, only that they terrified me. I
felt they were connected to Matt, somehow. I felt . . . doom. That’s the only
way I can describe it. So I dumped him.
Because of a nightmare?
Laughing at me? I knew you would. People think I’m crazy, and I probably
am. He had an accident on his motorbike, you see, and I’m convinced he survived because I finished with him.
Don’t you see? Everyone I love will die. The witch was right. That’s why I hold
myself so aloof from everyone. I can’t get too close. It’s too dangerous.
But that’s crazy! *Receiving
a dirty look* OK, let’s change the
subject. How is your brokerage doing?
Have you heard of Ladwick? It’s an up and coming retail store, and the
owner, Lex Kendal, has bought insurance off me. So, business is doing well,
thank you. He’s a bit of a playboy, always in the papers with some ditzy blonde
on his arm. Needs bringing down a peg or two if you ask me.
No romantic involvement?
No way!
He’s tried though?
He’s a flirt. The biggest flirt I’ve ever met, and I haven’t been
without the odd fling, so I know what I’m talking about. I just don’t get too
close. Keep everyone at arm’s length has become my motto. I think it was a
shock to his ego that I didn’t fall at his feet. Wish he’d take no for an
answer, though. He’s over-confident, arrogant, spoilt and, dammit, sexy!
You can read my full story in The
Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am
and my fall back into the real world. The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch I am
is cheaper than the energy pills I used to pop to keep me from sleeping and having nightmares.
Thanks for reading,

Valerie Anthrope

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am
chick lit with BITE!
Buy now!
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‘I thought you were the type of man who could handle a one-night stand.’

Valerie Anthrope’s life is finally on track. She has a thriving business, money is no problem, and men, well, she’s a modern, cut-throat business woman and romantic entanglement isn’t for her, so she can take them or leave them.



Or so she tells herself, and anyone else who’ll listen.



But that’s the problem. There’s no one else who will listen. Those who get too close never live to tell the tale–literally.



Cursed or just unlucky?



Lex Kendal doesn’t care. He’s a rich playboy and can have any women he wants–and does. Until he meets Valerie, but then Valerie’s carefully rehearsed mask slips and reveals the dark side of chick lit.


Extract:

I looked at him in what I hoped was a suggestive
tilt to my head. ‘You and I both know what that really means. So let’s cut the
bullshit, OK?’ I was a modern woman. I was in control, and I fancied the pants
off Lex Kendal. I’d have sounded pretty forceful except my words became a
little tangled, and his roguish grin widened.
‘Just how many Fuzzy Navels did you have, Miss
Anthrope?’ Before I knew it, he’d climbed out of the car and was at my side,
opening my door. He held out his hand to me. ‘You have a deal, Miss Anthrope,’
he said. His breathing had become deep. ‘You fancy me, I fancy you. Let’s get
the ball rolling, shall we? No crap.’
I stepped out of the car. I think now I was
certain of what I wanted – sex. I was in control. That was, after all, the
essence of me. We almost fell into my hallway, our hands roaming over each
other’s bodies.
‘You’re drunk.’ He broke away just enough to rest
his forehead against mine. ‘I brought you home so I could make love to you. But
I can’t take advantage of a drunken woman.’
‘I’m not drunk,’ I said, our lips centimetres
from each other. ‘Maybe tipsy, but not drunk.’ I pressed my body against his.
As long as I was in control, I felt safe. ‘We’re adults, Lex, and we both know
what the other wants.’
I felt powerful as his body began to tremble. I
flicked my tongue towards his mouth, and moved my hands down towards the buckle
on his belt. ‘Neither of us wants a relationship,’ I said. ‘Ours will be our
own private agreement.’
We struggled to the bedroom, then we were kissing
again. His hands under my dress; on my thighs; bum. His thumbs hooked over my
knickers and he began to ease them down, while his mouth nuzzled my neck.
We were adults; this was the right thing to do.
It felt like the right thing to do.
The bed squeaked beneath our weight.
Oh, God… too many Fuzzy Navels…


Welcome to the dark side of chick lit…

Being a misanthropist is Valerie Anthrope’s defence.

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She is a cut-throat business woman and happy being alone. She answers to no-one. She has no time for romantic trivialities, and definitely no time for Ellen who nominates herself as her fairy godmother.

But what of Ellen’s playboy nephew? The one who Ellen coerces into buying insurance from Valerie’s brokerage? The one who is full of himself and smitten with Valerie’s cool demeanour. His cocky know-it-all manner, posse of female admirers and playboy reputation are more than enough to put Valerie off – or is it enough to keep her interested? After all, being in a relationship with a playboy means there’s no burden of commitment.

Or is there?

The Fall of the Misanthrope is available for Kindle NOW
Chapter One 
The Fall of the Misanthrope
I bitch, therefore I am



There was that woman again.

I saw her out of the corner of my eye. She was
sitting on the wooden bench looking up at the church and then occasionally in
my direction. I crouched at the graveside, pushing stems of daisies and carnations
through the wire holes in the top of the vase.

Crikey, it was cold. I stood up and pulled my
gloves back on before stepping back to admire my handiwork. The flowers looked
pretty. There was a plaque – but only my brother was buried there, my parents’
ashes had been scattered over the top.
I picked up the paper the flowers had been
wrapped in and mashed it in my hands. I could still feel the curious stare of
the woman, whom I did my best to ignore. The bins were by the bench. I headed
over, keeping my head low.
‘Hello,’ she said.
I nodded, dropped the litter and turned away. I
pulled up the collar on my coat, not only to block out this stranger’s
inquisitive eyes but because the air was stinging my cheeks. I wondered how she
could sit for so long without freezing up.
‘I’m Ellen,’ she said. Good manners made me turn
back.
‘I’m Valerie, good day.’ Oh, how very English and
polite, I thought, as I walked away.
‘November’s turned cold, hasn’t it?’ she said
standing and falling into step beside me. ‘Do you think we’ll have snow?’
I walked faster, but the woman kept pace with me.
‘We’ve been lucky with the weather so far, but I
think it can be safely said that winter has arrived,’ she said. ‘Are you a
winter person, Valerie?’
Not only had she invaded my space, she was asking
anal questions too. She didn’t bother to wait for an answer, which was good,
seeing as I wasn’t going to supply one but prattled on with another:
‘Who’re you visiting?’ She nodded over to my
brother’s grave.
‘Family.’
‘Close family?’
With the gates in sight, I afforded her a brief
glance. ‘Not any more.’
Her smile waned a little, but I strode forward,
hoping to be first through the gates. But it didn’t happen like that and we
ended up locked together between black iron.
She burst into peals of laughter before stepping
back and allowing me to exit first. I gave her a no-nonsense smile, and stepped
through the gates towards my car. The car park was almost empty, so I couldn’t
understand why a bright red Mini was parked so close to my Vectra.
I heard Ellen giggling behind me, and I had a
horrible feeling the Mini was hers. I bleeped my car open, but there was no way
I could get access unless it was from the passenger side.
I turned to Ellen. She grinned at me, aimed the
keys and bleeped her car. ‘Brilliant things, aren’t they?’ she said.
‘What?’
She jiggled her keys. ‘These bleepy things.’
I placed my bag on the bonnet of my Vectra, and
pointed at her car. ‘You’ve an entire car park at your disposal, and you chose
to park not only next to me, but right on top so I can’t get in!’
She stared at me, but much to my chagrin, her
smile only got wider. She winked, then circled to the driver’s side of her car
where she slid behind the wheel. ‘Take care of that blood pressure of yours,’
she said and closed the door.
She drove away leaving me staring after her in
shock.
‘Cheeky bitch,’ I said. I climbed into my car and
drove towards work.
There was a holdup at the traffic lights, which I
couldn’t understand because the lights were green. Impatiently, I stabbed at my
horn with the heel of my hand, and a car in front of the car I was behind shot
off just as the lights changed to red. I noticed it was the Mini from the
graveyard. ‘Typical,’ I muttered.
I thought back to the first time I’d seen her. It
was summer time, and she was on that same bench and I was tending to the grave.
She’d smiled but hadn’t attempted to speak. Come to think of it, I’d seen her
before then too, and I remembered her because she was wearing a bright green
raincoat with a huge sunflower on the back. At first glance I thought it had
been a target board.
The lights changed and I eased my car forward. Obviously
she had lost family too, I thought. I’ll change my visits from the middle of
every month to the end. That way I’d not encounter her again.
~
I stepped inside the foyer of my office and, ignoring the lift, I
climbed the stairs. It wasn’t that I wanted the exercise, I just didn’t like
lifts. I didn’t like most things to be honest: animals, people, modern music,
Keith Lemon to name a few. I liked numbers and data. They were my forte; safe
and solid numbers.
The office block was only three storeys. The
first floor was all taken by one firm, and besides saying ‘hello’ we never
spoke at all. I shared the top floor with an accountancy firm. I rented the
largest office, which had a connecting door to a smaller one. The smaller
office was mine, and it overlooked Sallington Park; the other room was for my
staff.
Inside I heard the steady drone of office banter
between them – all two of them. I ran a financial advisory brokerage for Sunny
Oak. I pushed open the door.
‘Mr McFindley has called to cancel tonight’s
appointment,’ Tim informed me before I was barely over the threshold, ‘and I’ve
chased Tracey Sadark for her previous insurance details. She’s promised to
phone them through later this afternoon. I’ve three new appointments booked for
tonight and it’s only eleven o’clock! Oh, and I’ve ordered new stationery from
HQ, but there’s going to be a delay on stamps for the new logo.’ He jumped up
to give me his list and then proceeded over to the bubbling percolator and
poured me a coffee. He was Tim the Tireless. At five foot nothing and
approaching retirement age Tim would never walk if he could run.
‘And did you call Darren Yardley like I asked?’ I
asked.
‘Of course. He’s going to fax over his details.’ He
grinned and handed me a cup of steaming coffee that resembled tar – just as I
liked it. ‘I’ve arranged an interview for your new assistant at three tomorrow
afternoon.’ He whipped out his notebook. ‘I’ve her details –’
‘No, no, I‘ll check later,’ I said. I was keen to
get into the sanctuary of my office. My eyes fell on a pile of customer files
still sitting on top of the filing cabinet. ‘Paul?’ I said, pointing. ‘Why
hasn’t the filing been done?’
‘There isn’t any filing, Miss Anthrope,’ he said.
He insisted on calling me by my surname at all times. He’d only recently learned
to stop standing when I entered a room, so small mercies. I noticed that he was
busy sorting coloured paperclips into little piles of blue, red and pink, on
his desk.
‘What’s that then?’ I said, still pointing at the
filing.
He peered at me through his owl-framed glasses,
and then at the files. ‘Are they for filing?’
‘Yes, Paul,’ I said. ‘They were there yesterday
and probably before the weekend, too. Do it immediately, this inefficiently of
yours is getting ridiculous!’
Paul dived on a coloured paperclip and held it up
to the light as if admiring a diamond. ‘An orange paperclip,’ he said. ‘Now
these are unusual.’
Tim zoomed over to Paul’s desk proclaiming, ‘I’ve
a purple. Can’t get more unusual than that!’
Feeling a headache coming on I left them for my
office. Inside, I placed my coffee on my desk, and unbuttoned my coat but
didn’t take it off. I was still cold from the graveyard visit.
I touched the radiator. It was lukewarm. Rubbing
my hands together, I stared out of the window while trying to encourage warmth
from the radiator below. I’d meant to bring in my little heater from home but
forgot – must remember for tomorrow. I didn’t want the cold to put off my
interviewee. I hadn’t much success with staff; Tim and Paul were seemingly the
only ones I could hang on to.
Tim was my sales representative; he was good at
selling, or rather, talking. I think people signed on the dotted line just to
be rid of him. Paul, a general assistant, wanted to work fewer hours and I
thought hiring someone to job-share alongside him would be a good idea, with
the added benefit that he or she could be a sort of PA for me. I wanted to
concentrate on sales and presentations and leave the general running of the
office to someone else.
I vowed to try and be nice in the interview. It
wouldn’t be easy.