I remember one Sunday afternoon a very long time ago, sitting in front of the TV, curled up in an armchair, and watching one of my mum’s favourite films. That film was Random Harvest, the story of a couple who find each other in difficult circumstances and fall in love.
Smithy has no memory of who he was before they first meet. The couple marry, but are divided when he goes to London and has an accident that causes him to regain his memory of his previous life. Eventually, Smithy becomes a politician and his wife gets a job as his secretary, hoping her Smithy will remember her, which of course, because this is a romance, in the final scenes he does.
I loved that film, and so was born my love of the amnesia trope. The idea that true love conquers all, and you never forget how your heart feels, even if your head can’t fill in the details. There are other films that depend on lost memories, The Bourne Identity, Dead Again and Memento to name a few. And many episodes in TV shows use the same trope. Even my favourite, Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood, has two years he can’t remember, taken from him by the Time Agency, creating the reason he stopped working for them. This gave many a writer a huge fanfic gap to fill with all sorts of ideas. Another favourite of mine, The Doctor, also willingly gave up his memories by placing them in a watch in the episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood, then he fell in love. Later, we learn the Master had done the same.
But there’s nothing like using this trope in a romance. Two people finding each other once more, against the odds, among the millions of people in the world. It is the stuff of dreams and fantasises.
When I wrote Not Every Time, I was inspired by yet another film which deals with lost memories, It’s a Wonderful Life, also a film introduced to me by my mother, and the first film I bought her when we got a video player. In the film, George Bailey declares he wishes he hadn’t been born, so a novice angel named Clarence, gives him his wish and the whole town forgets George ever existed. At the end of the film, Clarence gets his wings when the little girl rings the bell on the Christmas tree. Watching it for the umpteenth time, an idea was born. What if the angel didn’t want the wings? What if the angel wanted to be human having found love down on Earth? So came the title, Not Every Time.
This was going to be a standalone Christmas story, but my muse decided otherwise. I’d hinted at Raz being an angel, but I asked myself the question – what if the angels wanted Raz back and took away all his lover’s memories. Could Raz find Jack again? Would love triumph? And most of all would Jack and Raz get their happy ever after? A Bell Rings takes place nine months later as Jack and his old flatmates from university all meet up for the first time in many years.
I wrote half the story in one day and the rest over the next week. I’d never written a paranormal story before so this was new for me. However, there is a certain angel, also nicknamed Clarence, who I am crazy about. An angel named Castiel, from the TV show, Supernatural. I researched angels and angel lore. How could I get these two back together again and how could I persuade the angels to leave Raziel, the Keeper of Secrets, down on earth? If you know Supernatural, you also know Castiel has experienced being human and maybe fallen in love, depending on your point of view.
So, there you have it, memories, angels, and a love of certain films and TV gave me the idea for Not Every Time and A Bell Rings. As a writer you never know what will inspire a story, a snippet of conversation, a photograph, a line from a film, something from your past, or an event in the news. Where do you get your ideas from?
Sometimes you only need to believe.
Raziel Slade and Jack Hastings have been best friends since Raz saved Jack’s life twelve years ago. Only Jack doesn’t remember Raz at all and he certainly doesn’t remember falling in love with him. Now that Jack has moved in with his university housemates, explicit dreams begin of a blue-eyed male stranger. Needing a new flatmate after his best friend moves out, Jack is introduced to Raziel Slade who has extraordinary blue eyes. Jack has no idea how to cope with his attraction to the man.
Raziel Slade has a secret—he used to be an angel. He fell in love with Jack Hastings and happily became human, but the angels aren’t prepared to let him go, so they steal him back. All Raz wants to do is return to his lover any way he can.
When a film brings back Jack’s memories, will he feel the same as he did when he finds out what Raz gave up for him? And are the angels finally ready to let Raziel, the Keeper of Secrets, go?
Publisher’s Note: This book is a sequel to Not Every Time.
Originally from South Wales, Alexa Milne has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions.
Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing.
She is currently owned by a mad cat and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.