When will your next book come out?

If everything goes as planned, this should be a three book year!

My third stand alone novel, The Other Daughter, is due to hit the shelves on June 2, 2015. This is also my very first single time period story. It's 1927 and Rachel Woodley returns home from her job as a nursery governess in France upon the death of her mother. Clearing out her mother's things, she discovers a mysterious clipping of a man who looks just like her dead father. Who is, in fact, her father. The only problem? He's alive. And an earl. He also has another family, a legitimate family. With her entire identity shattered, Rachel goes undercover among the glittering society of the Bright Young Things, determined to find out why her father left them-- and to make him face up to the past he left behind. You can find the official blurb, an excerpt, reviews, and more information here.

On August 4, 2015, it's time to wrap up the Pink Carnation series with the twelfth and final book: The Lure of the Moonflower. It's November of 1807 and the Pink Carnation, aka Miss Jane Wooliston, has been sent to Portugal, on the trail of a missing-- and mad-- queen. In order to find Queen Maria before the French do, the Pink Carnation has to team up with an unlikely ally: the double agent known as the Moonflower. (Although his father just calls him Jack-- Jack Reid.)  Can the two make it through treacherous, French troop-infested territory to save the Queen? It's a wrench saying goodbye to the Pink books after more than a decade, but I hope you'll be as excited about Jane's book as I am.

Last but not least, I have a special bonus book coming out in January 2016. (Okay, I know, that's technically next year. But I've decided it counts as this year. Janus does look both ways, after all.) I've teamed up with close friends and wonderful writers, Karen White and Beatriz Williams, to write The Forgotten Room, a novel that goes back and forth between 1893, 1920, and 1945, as we unravel the tangled story of three women, all of whom live, at different times, in the same townhouse in New York, and the mysterious past that binds them all together. More on that soon!

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What are you working on now?

I managed to get a little behind this year, so I'm mostly playing catch-up. Right now (autumn 2014), I'm working on revisions on The Other Daughter, my third stand alone novel (coming to you on June 2, 2015!). I'm also finishing up my section of The Forgotten Room, the book I'm co-writing with Karen White and Beatriz Williams (on bookshelves January 2016). Once that's done, it's back to work on Pink XII, The Lure of the Moonflower, which should, cross fingers, knock on wood, and send me good writing vibes, be in your hands this August, 2015

Once all of those books are done, I'll be turning my attention to my fourth stand alone novel, coming your way in summer 2016. I'll have more information about that fourth stand alone this spring, as soon as The Other Daughter, Pink XII, and The Forgotten Room are all safely in the hands of my editors.

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Is The Ashford Affair part of a series?

The Ashford Affair is separate and entire unto itself. I did sneak a descendant of one of my Pink Carnation characters, Lord Vaughn, into the book (how could any descendant of Vaughn and Mary resist partying in the Happy Valley?), but other than that, it’s completely unconnected to any of my other books. 

My next book for St. Martin’s Press, That Summer, which revolves around the early days of the Preraphaelite movement in 1840s London (see above), is also a stand alone. As with Ashford, however, I couldn't resist putting in a Pink connection: the modern hero of the book, Nicholas Dorrington, is a direct descendant of Miles and Henrietta.

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Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Check out my new Writing Wednesday feature on the News page. Every Wednesday, I talk about some area of the writing life, from character development through the publication process. You can skim through the Writing Wednesday archives by clicking here.

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In what order should the books be read?
For both the short and the long answer to that question, check out the new Book Order page.

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Do you plan to continue giving characters and couples appearances in future books?
It would be hard to keep them out of it. I would never bring old characters in purely for the sake of giving them a cameo, since that does a disservice to the current story, but my fictional world is a very interwoven one. Rather like real life, where you’re constantly running across people you know, my characters tend to bump into one another a fair amount, so it’s a good bet that you’ll see old characters in new books.   

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Do you have any plans to write anything other than Pink Carnation in the near future?
Confession: I’m very superstitious. I don’t like talking about future projects for fear that I might jinx them. I’ve also noticed that the more I talk about an idea, the less likely I am to turn it into prose. So I’ll just say, broadly, yes. My literary tastes are pretty varied, so there are a whole range of books I want to write, from a young adult series, to an English Civil War-set epic, to a light romp of a mystery novel. Stay tuned….

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You mentioned you were possibly thinking about doing short stories to catch up with previous characters. Are you still planning on doing that?
As many as time permits! Right now, you can find Amy and Richard’s Christmas novella (Ivy & Intrigue), Henrietta and Miles’s first Valentine’s Day together (Bunny & Biscuits), and a Turnip wedding night bonus chapter (Away in a Manger) all up on the Diversions page in the Free Reads section. I’m hoping to eventually get to the rest of the Pink couples, with Geoff and Letty the next up.

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When are we going to find out what Jane has been up to?
The series veered away from Jane a bit in Night Jasmine and Blood Lily, but don’t worry. It veers back with The Orchid Affair and The Garden Intrigue, as we find ourselves in the midst of the workings of Jane’s league in Paris. Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, follows Jane and Miss Gwen back to England as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of Jane’s sister from her Bath boarding school.

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Will Jane and/or Miss Gwen get a book of their own?
I am thrilled to announce that The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, which came out from NAL in August 2013, features Miss Gwen. As for Jane, if everything goes to plan, we should see Jane’s book in the summer of 2015. (Pink XII, for those of you who are keeping track.)

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What area of the law did you focus on and work in? How has your work in the legal profession influenced your historical writing?
During my very brief legal career, I worked as a litigator. It was Big Firm litigation, which meant that I was dealing largely with corporations rather than individuals, and found myself learning a lot more about abstruse accounting principles than I would have otherwise liked. As to the second half of that question, I really don’t have a pat answer. I do think that there are interesting similarities in the way one constructs a brief and the way one constructs a story: both are productions meant to persuade. Both rely on the mustering of examples and the creation of a certain type of atmosphere. Aside from that, I’m not sure. Although the hero of The Orchid Affair is a lawyer! 

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What books and articles are you using to research your books?
You can find the background material for each book, as well as some basic references, on the Bibliography page.

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What are your favorite historical movies/costume dramas?
My favorite go-to costume dramas include the Anthony Andrews Scarlet Pimpernel, the Ciaran Hinds Persuasion, the BBC production of Clarissa (Vaughn owes a lot to Sean Bean as Lovelace), the Sharpe series (do you sense a Sean Bean theme?), and Horatio Hornblower. I’m also a big fan of Dangerous Beauty, although I prefer the English title, The Honest Courtesan.  Then, of course, there are the classics of swash and buckle: Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, and Zorro.

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Will Richard and Miles ever reconcile?
Many of you have expressed concern about the state of Richard and Miles’ relationship. Poor Richard. He didn’t have an easy time dealing with his best friend’s defection. Used to being the center of both Henrietta’s and Miles’ attention, it was a nasty shock to him when his adoring little sister and longtime best friend decided they were more interested in each other than him. I do believe that Richard will relent over time—he and Miles were friends for too long to remain entirely estranged—but it may take a while.

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How many Pink Carnation books do you intend to write?
I finally have an answer to that question!  Pink XII (Jane’s story) will be the final book in the series. 

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Do you outline your books in advance?
I outline constantly—and I save the old outlines, so I can laugh hollowly over them two months later, when they no longer bear any resemblance to what I’ve actually written. I’m always impressed by those people who can outline a book in advance and stick to it. Frequently, the bits on my original outlines I’m most pleased with are the bits that prove most unworkable in practice, and find their way into the dustbin.

Despite their lack of utility as an actual blueprint, I do find outlines quite useful for organizing my thoughts, and working through plot kinks. In general, I tend to have a fairly detailed outline for whatever the next five chapters may be, and then a sketchier outline for anything that comes after that. It helps me keep track of the overall story and pacing, while still maintaining the flexibility to adjust to unexpected plot twists.

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Will Eloise and Colin finally get together in the next book?
Like all good chick lit heroes and heroines, Colin and Eloise must undergo a suitably prolonged period of suffering before they are allowed to reach the promised land of romantic bliss. Since they only get about six chapters of their own per book, they haven’t suffered nearly enough yet. However, I have been threatened with violence by several of my friends if Eloise and Colin aren’t at least allowed a smooch sometime soon. Let’s just say, things are going to get interesting for Eloise and Colin. A possible kiss… a few rivals… who knows?

Well, I do, but I’m not telling. If I did, Eloise might find out, and there’s no telling what she would do.

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How much of the modern story is autobiographical?
Hmm, a handsome Englishman, a cache of never-before-seen papers…. If only. I did loan Eloise my basement flat in Bayswater, as well as a rather bizarre party featuring models and glo-sticks, but the rest is pure imagination. And, no, no boyfriend of mine ever smooched another woman in the cloakroom of the Faculty Club, nor did I go abroad because I was thwarted in love. (Believe it or not, I’ve actually been asked that several times since the book came out—including by an old family friend!). It’s called fiction for a reason.

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Where do you get your ideas?
Every now and again, the Good Plot Fairy will wave her magic wand over my head. When I fail to pay attention, the Good Plot Fairy will then bash me over the head several times until I sit up, stick a bookmark in whatever novel I’ve been reading, and take notice. At least, that’s what happened with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. “What if…” a little voice whispered in my ear (most of my bouts of demented pacing and muttering to myself usually start with those fatal words, “what if”). “What if you paired a know-it-all English spy with a stubborn royalist heroine?” And once the idea appeared, it wouldn’t go away. That darned spy kept dashing back and forth through my head (sometimes swinging on a rope, just for variety), until I finally had to do something about him.

But that initial, comet-blazing-across-the-sky, Big Idea is only the beginning. Each book is composed of a mosaic of thousands of little ideas, ideas that invariably come to me at two in the morning when my alarm is set for seven. Ideas like, “What if Amy sees Georges Marston standing outside the house in a black cloak?” In fact, the bigger the initial idea, the more problems it causes, and the more mini-ideas it takes to sort everything out. For example, for the book I’m working on right now, the Big Idea, the idea that clunked me over the head—repeatedly—and wouldn’t leave me alone for nights on end, was “What if my hero were to accidentally elope with the wrong woman?” This seemed like a great idea. Until I started working on it. At which point I had to start answering questions like, “How in the hell do two sensible individuals get themselves into that sort of situation?” and “What was I drinking—er, thinking?”

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Who are your favorite authors?
It’s always impossible to answer that without leaving scads of people out, since my favorite authors list stretches to an alarming length. But I do have a shelf of books that has traveled with me from my childhood room… to college… to various apartments in Cambridge… and even England. The Security Shelf basics are L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, M.M. Kaye’s Trade Wind, Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven, Paradise Lost, a complete Shakespeare, the collected poems of John Donne (featuring a rather cocky courtier glowering from the cover), ditto Yeats, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Stoppard’s Arcadia, C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, and revolving selections by Nancy Mitford, Elizabeth Peters, Judith Merkle Riley, and Julia Quinn. Other favorites (which didn’t make it onto the Security Shelf, but are beloved nonetheless) include Karleen Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly, Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander, and anything by Georgette Heyer. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My dream in life is to someday have an apartment with enough bookshelves to house all my books, without involving large piles in front of my couch and next to my bed and under my kitchen table….

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I’m just starting my historical novel—do you have any research tips?
Lots and lots! I gave a talk on the subject at a conference last spring, and one of these days I really will get around to posting my workshop outline on the website. In the meantime, here are a few research strategies that have worked for me.

Start with biographies. Biographies often contain wonderful details about physical culture (clothing, food, architecture) that more straightforward political histories lack. They give you an excellent sense of what the time period was like as it was actually lived—and they also usually have excellent footnotes you can pounce on to locate other scholarly works and primary sources. For example, for my research on Napoleon’s court, I originally started with Theo Aronson’s The Golden Bees, Andre Castelot’s Napoleon, and Evangeline Bruce’s Napoleon and Josephine, and then tracked down the contemporary memoirs they had used as sources.

Don’t neglect museums. Some museums have wonderful collections of furniture and other everyday objects, and many (like my personal favorite, the V&A in London), have posted substantial numbers of images on-line. Not quite as good as getting to go in person, but still a wonderful source of ideas for furnishing your heroine’s boudoir. I’m also a big fan of glossy coffee-table books about antiques with lots of pictures and diagrams—and, fortunately, there always seem to be lots of those available, for a fraction of their proper price, at used books stores.

And then there are writers’ groups. I’m a member of the Beau Monde, the Regency chapter of Romance Writers of America. The sheer amount of esoteric information possessed by the members of the group could fill several libraries and quite a few history departments.

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