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9 Fun Facts about A Rulebook for Restless Rogues

Updated: Jun 12, 2023


The second book in the Lucky Lovers of London Series, A Rulebook for Restless Rogues comes out in exactly one month! (You can preorder a signed copy here through June 28) I'm gearing up by sharing some fun facts about the production of the book.


Have you ever heard of the dreaded "Second Book Syndrome" in authors? That the second book you publish is the most miserable to write? Well, A Rulebook for Restless Rogues got to skip that stage, because I wrote the first couple of drafts before signing any contracts. The drafts were messy, full of false starts and discarded ideas. But I had time to get things settled pretty well before my publisher saw it and edits began in earnest, so it all went pretty smoothly.


We can talk about my Third Book Syndrome later. For now, let's gush about how cool it was to expand this world beyond the first book and get to know Noah Clarke and David Forester a little better.


1) I never planned to include flashbacks


A Rulebook for Restless Rogues is a friends-to-lovers story, and Noah and David have been friends (just friends, of course!) since boarding school. That said, I always intended to make the story linear and set in the present-day. As a writer starting out, you're always warned against weighing a manuscript down with flashbacks and prologues, after all. But, try as I might, I just couldn't manage to draft the thing without showing the moment that David and Noah first became friends. It was hard to encapsulate the dramatic beginning of their friendship, and how meaningful it was to both of them, without bringing readers along with me to that moment.


Then in edits, four flashback chapters were added throughout the manuscript. It was a surprising idea, but it made sense: the story opens when they are on the very cusp of shattering that thin wall between friendship and love, so much of the present-day story takes place over the span of a few very heightened days. The flashbacks added a lot of richness to the relationship, and more context that was really important. It's really hard to imagine the story without them now, but this was originally a linear tale, and quite a different one at that...


2) The ending was changed in real-time


I'm not going to spoil the ending here, but let's just say that David was supposed to make a very different decision at a certain point that would have made for an entirely different story. I wrote everything up until that point assuming he would do as he was told, with plans for the rest of the book based on it. But as I wrote it, I could not make him do the thing. It was too much to ask of a character I'd already put through enough. He needed to make the gentler choice. Needed a gentler life, a gentler story. So I let him do what he needed to do, and dealt with the editorial fallout later. It was one of the most magical and pure writing moments I have ever experienced, so while I'm sort of sad I couldn't use the rest of that material, it was for the best.



3) I edited it in Amish country


Anyone who lets me talk too long will eventually learn that I'm very inspired by regular visits to Amish country, which isn't too far from where I live but feels like a completely different world. These involve weekends spent at my favorite little bed and breakfast, holed up in an adorable room when I'm working, eating wonderful food and exploring when I'm not, and discussing creativity and writing with the exceptionally kind and personable staff whom I somehow always forget to share my pen name with...



3) There are some modern easter eggs


I don't care if it's historical fiction, it is homophobic to leave out references to The Princess Diaries and The Wizard of Oz if the situation calls for them, and I will die on that hill.

image from thejudyroom.com

4) It will keep you company as you wait ten more days for the Barbie Movie


This fun fact isn't really going anywhere. I'm just excited for the Barbie Movie like every other queer millennial. They're both pink, I guess.



5) Noah was created so I didn't have to learn whist


I really wanted to keep my drafting pace moving in The Gentleman's Book of Vices. I didn't want to have to learn the details of whist -- a complicated gambling game that was popular during the 19th century -- for the sake of a single card-table scene where the point of view character wasn't even playing. Enter Noah Clarke, aka Miss Penelope, who saved me from having to stop my progress and learn a whole new game just so I could pepper in some convincing dialogue in a single scene. I didn't really expect to keep that in revisions, but his habit of inventing crazy rules and new games was a really fun workaround that added some whimsy to Vices, and gave me a unique starting point when it came time to develop his character enough to carry a story of his own.


And in that story, you'll finally learn why Noah started cheating at cards in the first place...



6) David was a cardboard cutout


David, on the other hand, was basically cardboard in the early drafts of Vices. He didn't even have a first name until I started drafting Rogues; he was just a generic nosy bartender who was pathetically in love with Noah. His character was built from scratch during a time in my life when I was exploring some very important things about myself. This timing brought him from cardboard cutout to one of the most vulnerable and emotionally genuine characters I have ever created. I'm not sure he's the most universally likable character, but he is an incredibly honest one. I adore him, and think that many readers will too.


And he's still pathetically in love with Noah, in case you were wondering. Some things never change.



7) I listened to a lot of Brittney Spears while writing it


"Work Bitch" encapsulates Noah's relationship with his job as a Savile Row tailor and fashion designer, and I listened to it to get into his head. His attitude toward work and status is very different from mine, so I was glad to find this way in. And "Baby One More Time," "Toxic," and "Sometimes" felt right when thinking about David's way in the world, trying so hard to earn love, no matter the cost.


Plus, I mean, this is a love story about a drag queen and gay bar manager in their early thirties. They'd love Brittney if they were, you know, real and modern. They'd probably also go see the Barbie Movie with me.


8) The Rogues used to be Reckless


That's right. The working title was A Rulebook for Reckless Rogues. Nobody knows quite what happened on the backend, but somewhere between submitting the manuscript to my publisher and receiving the cover concepts we got Restless instead. No conscious decision was made to change it. I'm guessing autocorrect had something to do with it. In any case, David and Noah are both decidedly Reckless and Restless, and everyone (myself included) thought the new title was a little more interesting, so we kept it!



9) I had to cut a favorite scene


The flip side of adding all those flashbacks meant some other things had to go. I always keep a "cuts file" on every manuscript, and this one clocked in at over 20k worth of scenes written and discarded by the end (for perspective, the finished book is about 90k). While most of these were related to the false starts and never belonged in the book in the first place, there is one scene between Noah and his serious-minded, spinster sister Emily that I really enjoyed writing, and that truly was cut for wordcount reasons. It made for some great comedy during a darker section of the book, and even had a couple of my favorite lines in it. But I had to either cut this scene or a fun Charlie-and-Miles cameo.


I think you'll agree that we made the right choice, but I'm planning to share the cut scene with Emily in my newsletter later in the summer. If you're interested in that sort of thing, make sure to sign up! It also serves as a bit of a preview to Lucky Lovers of London book three, because something tells me you're going to be seeing Emily again very soon...


That's it! I am so excited to finally be putting this book out into the world. It's near and dear to my heart. Thank you so much to all the early readers who have shown love for it already -- it means the world. And for those of you waiting for release day, I can't wait to hear what you think!


...And is anyone else excited for the Barbie Movie?

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2 Comments


poppie
Jan 19

About to start this book now. I love the idea of editing in Amish country. I wonder how they would react if they knew the topic. Or did they know?

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mackenzie.spencer1031
Jun 22, 2023

Hello! I JUST finished The Gentleman's Book of Vices and I cannot wait for this book to come out!! Noah was such an interesting character and I'm so excited that there is a whole book about them?? Yay! :)

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