The Cinderella Deal’s Evil Twin
So The Cinderella Deal is out now, reissued from its 1995 (?) publication. And now that it’s readily available, I should probably explain why it’s so much like Strange Bedpersons. You didn’t notice that? Yeah, you did, you’re just being nice. Here’s what happened.
The first year I started writing, I wrote three novels: Keeping Kate, The Cinderella Deal, and Bet Me. They were all Very Bad, but I loved them and didn’t know enough to know they were Very Bad. So I kept sending them out and getting them back with form rejection letters Xeroxed crooked on the paper because they were in such a rush to get them out of the offices. Then through one of those miracles, Keeping Kate ended up on the desk of a book doctor at Harlequin, Sherie Posesorski, and she said, “If you will do what I tell you to, you can fix this and we will publish it.” And I did and they did and that was Manhunting. (Yes, I hate that title.) Then I wrote Getting Rid of Bradley, and that went well. And then I sent her The Cinderella Deal and Bet Me, both still Very Bad unbeknownst to me. And she rejected them. This is publishing, folks.
So I was getting another proposal together for her, but I still believed in TCD and Bet Me, so as a courtesy, I called her and said, “I’m sending these to Bantam Loveswept. I understand you don’t want them, no hard feelings, but I’d like to keep trying.” And she said, “You can’t, you have an option clause with us.” And I said, “You rejected them, the option clause is voided.” And there was a long silence and then she said, “Let me call you back.”
While we’re waiting for her to call back, you should know that The Cinderella Deal was about a woman named Daisy who was an artist and had father issues.
About an hour later, she called back and said, “We’re buying The Cinderella Deal.” Hooray! “We just have a few changes we need you to make.” Sure, no problem. “Her name can’t be Daisy, she can’t be an artist, and she can’t have father issues.” Long silence on my end. Finally I said, “Why are you buying the book if you don’t like any of it?” And because she always told me the truth, one of the many things I loved about Sherie, she said, “Because we don’t want to lose your option clause. Write anything you want, just don’t write that.”
Okay, I was young and stupid, so instead of starting a new book–say something called Whatever MaeBelle Wants, another great title HQ screwed up–I tried to rewrite The Cinderella Deal and ended up with something that wasn’t at all what I wanted because what I wanted was The damn Cinderella Deal. Still, Harlequin liked it, and they let me keep my new title, Strange Bedpersons, and they sent the check, so I chalked it up to experience and moved on.
Two years later, HQ and I parted company because of a contract dispute and my brand new agent, Meg Ruley the Fabulous, said, “Okay, we’re going to take you single title, do you have any manuscripts we can sell to keep the wolf from the door while you’re working on Frog Point Wallow? (That one got changed to Tell Me Lies. Thank god.) I said, “Well, The Cinderella Deal,” which I had been working on off and on for awhile because I still loved that story and because I’d had to cut a good 85% of it to please the HQ editors, and I wanted that 85% back. So Meg called Beth de Guzman at Bantam and said, “Have I got a book for you, baby,” and sent her TCD and Beth said, “Absolutely,” and gave me a two-book wolf-repelling Loveswept contract, and I looked at the last rewrite of TCD and thought, “Hmmm.”
Loveswept, for those of you old enough to remember, was Bantam’s category line. When I sold to them, it was on its last legs which meant we all knew that nobody was going to read my Bantam books. Given that, I figured this was my chance to go outside my comfort zone. The criticism my books most often got was that they were a little cold. So I thought, Okay, we’re going for the heart on this one, I will no longer fear melodrama, for this one book, I will embrace it. And I did. And to this day, there are people who swear that TCD is their favorite Crusie, I think just because of that. It gets pretty schmaltzy in there, folks. Unlike Strange Bedpersons. Loveswept published it and sold 97% of the copies they printed and I still owe them half the advance, that’s how few copies went out there. Which is probably good because the cover was awful. Even worse than than the new one. But I digress. [Before I forget, the other Loveswept book was a hotel caper because I wanted to see how fast I could move a story. Turns out, pretty fast. Trust Me On This, reissued by Bantam this November, I believe.)
So here’s why TCD and SB are twins: They started from the same embryo. I deliberately took Strange Bedpersons away from the key components of The Cinderella Deal because I was told to, and because of that I was even more detached than usual in that book. Then I picked up the same starting draft because the book Strange Bedpersons ended up becoming was nothing like the book I wanted The CInderella Deal to be, and I wrote toward warmth and emotion and melodrama.
Keep in mind that when I was doing this, all of my HQ books went out of print in a month, and Loveswept had rack space in about three stores, so the chances of anybody reading both books was pretty slim. And I really wanted to do The Cinderella Deal my way.
Then of course, Things Changed, and HQ has been an absolute champ about keeping my backlist in print, and now here’s a bright shiny new edition of The Cinderella Deal from Bantam, so a lot of people are going to be saying what Kira said in the comments to the last post: “You know, those books are a lot alike.”
Yep. Twins. Fraternal twins but twins nonetheless.
You got me.