I am Penelope Marzec and I am delighted to be here at the Romance Junkies Blog. Thanks so much to all who made it possible. My latest release comes out this month from Crescent Moon Press and I decided to reveal the crazy creative process that went on in my mind as the book came into being.
The process started slowly as I gathered ideas, but eventually the entire tale presented itself—whole and complete—in a rush of inspiration. It was thrilling and the best part about being a writer.
Several events sparked the idea for my novel. The first seed was planted when I visited a nearby historical house and learned about the green sand marl used by farmers in New Jersey before the advent of chemical fertilizers.
Then there’s this whole thing about ghosts. I’m not talking about a shiver going up my spine or chills in a creepy old house. Yes, I do have one very odd photograph which I took inside a building reputed to be haunted by more than one specter. In the picture there appears to be a rather amorphous haze—a haze which I did not see when I snapped the picture. Could that have been a ghost? I was never quite sure, but I do believe there is far more to this world than we can see with our own limited vision.
I was driving down the Garden State Parkway one day in a deluge and I saw the famous New Jersey Parkway Phantom. I didn’t know that’s who it was right away. It was a rather surreal event. There was a man in a trench coat on the side of the road waving his arms in a odd way. He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at the other side of the road. I passed him up, but when I looked in my rearview mirror I did not see him anymore.
Sometime after that, a friend told me her own personal ghost story and I was fascinated—especially by the way her ghost disappeared. I could not resist borrowing her special phantom but I had to make some changes. My friend’s ghost wore a housecoat and that would never do for Abigail, the ghost in The Company You Keep. She wears calico, high button shoes, a shawl, and carries a lantern.
The lantern came about because I saw a tinsmith at work and bought a reproduction tin lantern of the type used during the nineteenth century.
If my youngest daughter had not wanted to take horseback riding lessons, there would not have been any horses in the book either, but because my daughter developed a love of all things equine, I found myself drawn to learn more about horses.
Last of all, I found a magical place. Settings are really a most important ingredient for my novels. For me, the setting is what pulls everything together.
One day, deep in the woods as I ventured off the marked trails, I found Jennifer’s bridge. Jennifer, the heroine of my story, knows the woods like the back of her hand. She makes peach jam and peach liqueur. She’s the Iron Lady of Marlpit and she has kept a terrible secret for years.
Yes, all that came to me when I saw a few boards haphazardly placed as a bridge over a rusty red brook. Everything just tumbled together in my mind. The horses, the lantern, the ghost, and Jennifer.
Oh yes, and Nathan, the billionaire. He never imagined all the difficulties he would run into when he came to Marlpit, New Jersey, and he never dreamed that the Iron Lady of Marlpit could be soft and willing.
I had a great time writing this book! It garnered Five Blue Ribbons in a Romance Junkie review, “THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is an extremely intriguing love story that will keep you wondering what will happen next….Penelope Marzec successfully combines mystery, passion, sensuality and love into this intricate story.”