What Inspired ‘The Honey Trap’? Mary Jayne Baker
Although I only started writing my debut novel The Honey Trap last October, I suppose the embryo of the story goes right back to the early noughties when I was studying English Literature at Durham University. I’d always been attracted to writing contemporary romance in the Mills & Book vein, and one day I decided what the hell: I was just going to do it. So I came up with a heroine, Angel, a feisty red-haired journalist who knew her own mind, and a hero, Sebastian, a dark and mysterious aristocrat with a troubled past. I drafted a plot, wrote about 4000 words worth of scenes – and then I decided the whole thing was dreadful and gave up.
Ten years later, I revisited the characters and plot – and gave up again. It was only last year, when someone gave me the sterling piece of advice that I should stop worrying about the quality of my writing and get on with it, then worry about editing afterwards, that I finally sat down to write what became The Honey Trap.
The characters and plot changed a lot from the original story idea I’d come up with back in my early 20s. From being a well-respected journalist, Angel became someone rather more junior, a newspaper intern just starting out in her career. Sebastian, now more usually known as Seb, changed from being an aristocrat to an acclaimed British film director, and from being dark and tortured to someone rather more fun and sweet. I populated Seb and Angel’s world with a cast of secondary characters – Angel’s love-to-hate boss Steve, Seb’s glamorous actress wife Carole and Angel’s fun, witty and supportive friends Leo and Emily.
Another thing that changed as I wrote was the genre. Although I initially intended the book to be contemporary romance, a lot of humour crept in, with cheeky banter between the characters abounding, and about a third of the way through I could see what I was really writing was romantic comedy, so I went with it.
Although I’m neither a journalist nor a film director, I mined my own interests and experiences pretty shamefully to provide material for the book. In the wake of the recent phone-hacking scandal, which I followed closely, I wanted to focus on Angel’s choices in the morally ambiguous world of the redtop paper she works for and this is one theme of the book. I also loved the idea of the main couple bonding over a shared love of vintage film, which is a passion of mine – the scenes where they watch old films such as The Apartment in Seb’s 1920s cinema, The Hippodrome, were some of my favourites to write. And finally, because he wouldn’t get off my keyboard and I thought it might appease him, I wrote my cat in! Harpo the cat becomes Groucho in The Honey Trap. He’s very proud…
Writing my first novel was an interesting experience. I tried to write 2000 words every day, which is no small commitment while also working full-time as I can only really write in the evenings, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much the plot and characters would take over my life and dreams. I found the experience addictive though – having once started writing, I’m now finding I can’t stop! I have another two completed manuscripts that I’m currently editing, and another first draft almost complete, plus I have recently signed with a literary agent.
The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?
Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?
After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.
But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?
‘The Honey Trap’ is an interesting, insightful expose of the gutter press and the fallout of their actions. Not your usual romantic comedy material but it works. The story explores the current obsession with celebrity status in a humorous way and the well thought out plot holds your interest.
Angel, a journalist intern finds out that ‘making it’ in her chosen career means compromising her moral integrity and possibly losing self respect in the process. Seb, the reclusive anti hero is instantly attractive to Angel and the heat between them is undeniable and often explosive. The sex is more explicit than usual in romantic comedy but as this forms the basis for the story that is a given. There is a good balance of romance and passion between our unlikely couple but the chance for a happy ever after for Angel and Seb is in doubt right to the end.
Angel’s objectionable boss, stereotypical, ‘old school’ editor, Steve easily manipulates her into making questionable choices. His sexist and homophobic behaviour doesn’t make pleasant reading but is essential for the plot’s authenticity and Angel’s out of character behaviour, in agreeing to be the bait in the honey trap.
A different interpretation of a popular theme, making an overall enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.