THE STOLEN SUMMER… aka THAT SUMMER in Germany!
March 26th, 2015

My Pre-Raphaelite novel, That Summer, comes out in Germany tomorrow! (Early birthday present for me?)

Over there, they call it Der gestohlene Sommer, “The Stolen Summer”– which I rather wish we’d thought of for the American edition.

That Summer Germany

You can find Der gestohlene Sommer for sale in German in hardcover and e-book from Rowohlt, Amazon.de, and, of course, your local bookseller in Germany or Austria.

 

Teaser Tuesday: A Tea Shop and an Excerpt
March 24th, 2015

We have Starbucks. In the 1920s, they had Fuller’s.

Fuller’s might not have been quite as ubiquitous as Starbucks (when I was living in London several years ago, there was a cartoon in The Spectator in which a pedestrian seeking directions was advised to pass the Starbucks, turn left at the Starbucks, and it would be right past the Starbucks), but it signified the same regular reliability. There was the same walnut cake, the same white tea cups and saucers with “Fuller’s” stamped in red, the same waitresses in their black uniforms and white pinnies. They were the epitome of respectability, and just the sort of place I needed for my heroine’s first, fraught tete a tete with the mysterious Mr. Simon Montfort.

You can imagine how thrilled I was, just about this time last year, when I stumbled on a period picture of the exact Oxford Fuller’s I was using in The Other Daughter. (For any Oxfordians out there, if you’ve been to the Burger King on Cornmarket, that’s the same building that once housed the Fuller’s.)

24_25_fullers_cropped The Other Daughter

And here, for your amusement, is the scene from Chapter Four of The Other Daughter in which Mr. Montfort inveigles Rachel into joining him there….

“Hullo.” Mr. Montfort clambered down the stairs. “Miss . . . Woodley, is it?”

Rachel resolutely resumed her progress. “Mr. Montfort.”

She didn’t look at him, but Mr. Montfort was looking at her, cataloging her features with a thoroughness that amounted to rudeness. “So you’re Ardmore’s daughter.”

Her father had another daughter, an official daughter, a daughter with fashionably marcelled blond hair and gowns that shimmered in the flash of the camera.

No, not her father. The man who had fathered her. Her real father, the man who had held her, had played with her, had soothed her childish fears, was dead, dead twenty-three years ago.

“No,” said Rachel woodenly. “Lady Olivia Standish is the Earl of Ardmore’s daughter.”

“His other daughter, then.” Mr. Montfort reached the door to the quad ahead of her, holding it open with a flourish. “His unacknowledged daughter.”

“Why sugarcoat it?” retorted Rachel, stung into response. “Why not just say illegitimate and have done?”

“Because I’m not done.” Sauntering beside her, his hands in his pockets, Mr. Montfort subjected her to a long, thorough scrutiny. “You don’t look like him—”

“Thank you!” said Rachel furiously.

“Except about the eyes. Those are Standish eyes. You’d best not go gazing into anyone’s or they’ll spot you right off. Unless, of course,” he added casually, “that’s what you want.”

Rachel’s shoulders were painfully stiff beneath her good wool jacket. The mist was rapidly turning to mizzle, stinging her eyes and damping the shoulders of her suit. “What makes you think I want anything to do with him?”

Mr. Montfort regarded her with something like pity. “You are bursting for revenge. The most casual observer could see it.”

The worst of it was that it was true. “I didn’t invite you to observe.”

“Of course not,” said Mr. Montfort imperturbably. “If I waited to be invited, I would never go anywhere at all. I’ve been asked to give you a cup of tea.”

“Consider your duty discharged.” Rachel raised a hand to Suggs, who was enjoying his afternoon smoke by the door of the lodge and eyeing a party of undergraduates in commoner’s gowns in a rather forbidding fashion. “Good day, Mr. Suggs.”

“Miss Rachel.” The porter nodded respectfully to Mr. Montfort, saying, “Good to see your face back here, sir.”

“Likewise, Suggs, likewise.” Montfort adjusted his stride to Rachel’s, hands in his pockets, shoulders back, face lifted to the slate-gray sky. “Let me guess. You intend to go storming off to Ardles and challenge the earl with the fact of your existence. There will be a tearful scene—his, not yours—after which he will repent and declare you his joy, his treasure, and his sole heiress.”

Rachel turned her heel on an uneven piece of paving. “That’s nonsense.”

“Yes, it is. Arrant nonsense. More likely, the butler won’t let you past the door.”

“There’s no need to be cruel.” Resolutely, Rachel turned up the collar of her jacket, wishing she had had the forethought to wear a mackintosh.

The mizzle had made up its mind to be rain, turning to a hard drizzle that dripped down her cheeks like tears and made her hair stick in wet half curls against her ears. She had, she realized, left her umbrella in Cousin David’s rooms, but nothing could induce her to go back and retrieve it, even without Mr. Montfort hovering over her like an ill wish.

“It’s not cruel, it’s honest.” Mr. Montfort produced his umbrella. “You appear to be in want of one of these.”

“Such gallantry,” said Rachel sarcastically. “There’s a puddle. Would you like to drape yourself over it?”

Mr. Montfort obligingly held the umbrella closer, stepping next to her so that they were both sheltered beneath its brim. “Not even for your dainty foot. I rather like this suit. And this isn’t pure chivalry. I owe your cousin a debt.”

Both Mr. Montfort and Cousin David could go directly to a hot place populated with pitchforks. “Find some other way to discharge it. There must be dragon to be slain somewhere.”

“I’m fresh out of dragons and phoenix feathers.” Mr. Montfort placed a hand beneath her elbow. “I refuse to argue with you in the middle of St. Giles. Come have a cup of tea.”

“Then don’t argue with me at all.” Rachel shook off his hand, speeding her step on the rain-slick flagstones. “I don’t want tea.”

“Would you rather have gin?”

“No!”

“Tea it is, then,” said Mr. Montfort conversationally, “and here is a Fuller’s conveniently to hand. They will, as I understand, purvey brown liquid in a pot.”

Rachel swung to face him. “You mean you’re to keep me from storming off to bother—” She’d nearly said my father. “The Earl of Ardmore.”

Mr. Montfort’s eyes met hers. His were black, true black, so dark that there was no distinction between pupil and iris. “I don’t give a damn about the comfort and convenience of the Earl of Ardmore. But I did promise your cousin I’d make sure you didn’t walk in front of a train.”

The rain was seeping down through Rachel’s collar. Inside, the Fuller’s looked bright and inviting, the windows steaming with warmth.

And even the company of Mr. Montfort was preferable to being left alone with her own thoughts.

“Oh, all right,” Rachel said disagreeably. “It’s too much bother to fight with you.”

“Many people have said the same.” With a mocking half bow, Mr. Montfort gestured for her to precede him through the door of Fuller’s.

The Other Daughter hits the shelves on July 21.

You can find it for pre-order at Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, Powell’s, and wherever else books are sold; in e-form for Kindle or Nook; or on audio CD, read by Nicola Barber. (It will also be available for audio download, but I don’t have the links for that just yet.)

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
March 20th, 2015

As I await the revision notes for Pink XII, I’ve been finishing up my Laura Resnick-a-thon, with her fifth and sixth Esther Diamond novels (they remind me of a paranormal Vicky Bliss): Polterheist and The Misfortune Cookie.

Once I’ve got that out of my system– and the Pink revisions done– I have a truly tantalizing stack of new books waiting for me, including:

— an ARC of the first book in Deanna Raybourn’s new Veronica Speedwell series, A Curious Beginning (gloat, gloat);

— M.J. Rose’s The Witch of Painted Sorrows (hello, Belle Epoque Paris!);

— Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen (mid-19th century India!);

— and C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel (self-explanatory).

There’s also a big pile of non-fiction books, but more on those later.

What have you been reading this week?

 

Teaser Tuesday: My Mary Stewart Tribute Book
March 17th, 2015

Now that The Lure of the Moonflower, aka Pink XII, is safely in the hands of my editor, I can finally get back to talking about my next book out: The Other Daughter, which appears July 21.

The Other DaughterMy agent likes to call The Other Daughter “1920s Revenge“. I think of it as my Mary Stewart tribute book.

I’ve been trying and trying to unpick just why The Other Daughter is Mary Stewart to me. There’s no exotic location (just London and Oxford); it’s set a good thirty years earlier than most of the Stewart books; and, although I initially began writing it in the first person, a la Stewart, it shifted quickly to third person and stayed that way.

Nine Coaches WaitingThere are a few obvious points. In homage to one of my favorite books of all time, Nine Coaches Waiting, I made my heroine, Rachel, a nursery governess employed in France (although Rachel’s employers aren’t homicidal, which does make a change). And the story is told only in Rachel’s viewpoint, the first time I’ve ever written a single viewpoint story.

In the end, though, what made me look to Mary Stewart while writing this book is that Mary Stewart specializes in ordinary, sensible human beings placed in extraordinary situations. Her heroines are all just so down to earth. Intrigue and mayhem may follow them around, but they face it all with calm good sense and a great deal of pluck– and that was exactly what I was trying to do with The Other Daughter: take an ordinary person and throw her into a bizarre turn of events. How often, after all, do you discover that your supposedly dead (and unimportant) father is really alive– and an earl? And that everything you knew about your life was, in fact, a lie?

Have you read Mary Stewart? Which is your favorite?

Stay tuned next week for an excerpt from The Other Daughter!

 

Books, Books, Books
March 16th, 2015

The Lure of the Moonflower, aka Pink XII, is now in the hands of my editor! It was a bittersweet moment, typing the last words of the last ever Pink book this past Friday:

photo 1 (3)

There are still revisions to be done, and copyedits, and all the other bits and pieces– but there’s a book.

By strange coincidence (do my publishers have uncanny timing or what?), the proofs of my next stand alone novel, The Other Daughter, popped up on my doorstep just half an hour after I sent The Lure of the Moonflower off to my other editor.

photo 2 (3)

Because these things always go in threes, guess what also showed up in my inbox at the end of last week? A mock-up of the cover for The Forgotten Room, the novel that Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and I co-wrote together. I can’t show you that quite yet, since they’re still tinkering with the details– but it’s gorgeous.

When will you see these on shelves?

— July 21: The Other Daughter
— August 4: The Lure of the Moonflower
— January, 2016: The Forgotten Room

As to what comes next…. As soon as I’m done with the proofs for The Other Daughter and the revisions for Pink XII and The Forgotten Room, I’ll be starting work on my fourth stand alone novel. Stay tuned for more about that in the fall!

 

It’s Pinkorama Time!
March 11th, 2015

It’s the most sugary time of the year…. Can’t you just smell the marshmallow? Yes, you guessed right: it’s time for the Fifth Annual Pinkorama!

Depeeption of the Emerald Ring 7 Julie & Casey 5

(That’s really short for Pink Carnation Peep Diorama, but if I had to write that out each time, these would become very long posts.)

And, since this is the Tenth Anniversary of Pink Carnation, it means we’ve had half as many Pinkorama years as we’ve had Pink ones. I’d forgotten that we’d been Pinkorama-ing quite that long!

The rules are simple: using those sugary, marshmallowy goodies (Peeps), recreate your favorite scene from the Pink Carnation novels. Any of the Pink books, novellas, or bonus chapters are up for grabs. Even though it’s not technically Pink, I’m including The Ashford Affair among the eligible works, just in case you feel like going Edwardian Peep, 1920s Peep, or Kenya Peep and That Summer, for Victorian Peep and Pre-Raphaelite Peep (or Dorrington Descendant Peep). Two L and A Night at Northanger are also fair game.

Once your Peep creation is complete, take a picture (or pictures) of your Pinkorama and email them to me at willig@post.harvard.edu with “Pinkorama” in the subject line. I’ll post all the Pinkoramas here on the website and open it up to general voting.

The deadline for the Pinkorama is Monday, April 6. I’ll post the pictures and open it up to voting here on the site on Wednesday, April 8th.

As for the prize…. I would love to offer an ARC of The Lure of the Moonflower, but since I’m a bit late with the manuscript, we’re also late with the ARCs. So, instead, the prize will be an ARC of The Other Daughter, my next stand alone novel, which comes out July 21.

If you’re seeking Peep inspiration, check out the Pinkorama Gallery!

Let the sugary fun begin!

 

Pinkorama!
March 10th, 2015

In the midst of Pink XII madness, I’d entirely forgotten that it was Pinkorama time! A quick, unofficial poll: given my extreme tardiness, is anyone still interested in making a Pinkorama (Pink Carnation Peep Diorama) this year? If so, I’ll post the official rules and contest whatnot tomorrow!

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
March 6th, 2015

Hi, all! So sorry to be around here so little recently. I’ve been in the final throes of Pink XII, The Lure of the Moonflower (deadline is March 15– wish me luck!).

When I haven’t been plugging away at Jack’s and Jane’s story, I’ve been dipping into more of Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond novels, supernatural mysteries with more than a touch of madcap humor. This week’s? Book II, Doppelgangster, featuring gangster dopplegangers, and Book IV, Vamparazzi, in which the heroine, an actress, has been cast in a stage adaptation of Polidori’s The Vampyre (highly recommended for any fans of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla or vampire spoofs in general).

What have you been reading this week?

 

Teaser Tuesday: the Baths at Caldas da Rainha
March 3rd, 2015

It’s always very satisfying when geography works in your favor. Guess what happened to be directly on Jack and Jane’s route in The Lure of the Moonflower, just when I (I mean, they) needed it?

A historic hot spring.

Here is one of the baths as it would have been in the eighteenth century:

The_interior_of_the_thermal_baths,_Caldas_de_la_Rainha,_Port_Wellcome_V0012308

And as it is now:

Caldas da Reina bath

Pretty neat, no?

 

Pink XII Reader’s Guide
March 2nd, 2015

Hi, all! As I finish up the final book in the Pink series, The Lure of the Moonflower, the time has come for me to start thinking about the Reader’s Guide. Most of the time, the Reader’s Guide takes the form of a Q&A. In the past, I’ve been questioned by my characters; my characters have been questioned by me and by each other; and, the most fun, I’ve answered your questions.

What would you like to see in the Pink XII Reader’s Guide?

Do you have questions you’d like to see answered? Or characters you’d like to see talking to each other?