Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
As you can probably tell, my brain is a multi-book muddle right now, so this Teaser Tuesday is a collection of upcoming this and that.
The Ashford Affair is out in stores (after debuting at #35 on the New York Times bestseller list!).
Within the next few weeks, I’ll be embarking on a blog tour for Ashford, so if there’s any blog you particularly want me to visit, just let me know! I’ll also be doing one more live event, with the always fabulous Deanna Raybourn, at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York on June 4.
Huge congrats to Deanna, whose 1920s Kenya book, A Spear of Summer Grass, hit the shelves today!
Tomorrow is the first of May, which also means we’re down to just three months before the next Pink Carnation novel, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, comes out.
For personal reasons, I won’t be touring at all for Purple Plumeria (there’s a very new small person who’s going to be keeping me at home in August) but there will be signed copies available via The Poisoned Pen bookstore and possibly some Skype events. I’m still working out the details, but I’ll keep you posted as I sort it all out. Since I won’t be able to sign in person, there also will be– and this is the bit I’m really excited about– bookplates with Miss Gwen’s coat of arms on them which I will mail out to anyone who wants one for her copy of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. More on that in July!
Finally, I have three advance copies of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria to give away between now and August…. Any contest suggestions?
Monday, April 29th, 2013
I have just learned that there’s a name for the types of books I’ve been writing, the ones that go back and forth between two time periods: they’re called “time slip” novels. (Which you would think has something to do with time travel, but doesn’t.)
If you like time slip novels, you’ll probably like….
— Kate Morton’s four novels, The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper, all of which fluctuate between past and present;
— Rachel Hore’s A Place of Secrets, which goes back and forth between the present and the 18th century;
— Lucinda Riley’s The Orchid House, which spans the present and World War II;
— Susanna Kearsley’s Season of Storms, in which the life of a long-dead actress and her modern namesake collide, as well as her beloved first novel, Mariana, in which the seventeenth century and the present are entangled;
— Anya Seton’s Green Darkness, which goes back and forth between the sixteenth century and the 1960s;
— Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay, which goes back and forth between the twelfth century and the present;
— Barbara Taylor Bradford’s blockbuster, A Woman of Substance, which goes back and forth between the (then) present and the eponymous woman of substance’s meteoric rise from Edwardian chamber maid to department store magnate;
— and The Ashford Affair, which hops back and forth between our modern heroine, in 1999, and the tumultuous life of her grandmother, from a childhood in an Edwardian great house through World War I and the Jazz Age.
What are your favorite time slip novels?
Sunday, April 28th, 2013
The winner of a copy of A Spear of Summer Grass is…
Zoey! (Of Comment #52.)
Congrats, Zoey! If you email me with your information, I’ll make sure that book heads your way!
Huge thanks to Deanna for visiting the website!
Saturday, April 27th, 2013
If you’re still looking for a Mother’s Day gift, there’s always The Ashford Affair!
If you email me with the details, I’ll send you a signed and personalized “Happy Mother’s Day” bookplate for your mother’s (or grandmother’s) gift.
Given all the mother/daughter relationships in The Ashford Affair, it does seem rather appropriate….
Friday, April 26th, 2013
Just as I was in a reading slump, my friend Vicki came to my rescue with a bag full of books. I’ve just started reading my way through them, beginning with the romances:
— Jo Goodman, Let Me Be The One.
Jo Goodman writes thoughtful, interesting historical romances with well-rounded characters and Let Me Be The One is no exception. It’s the first of a quartet, featuring four best friends who have formed a “Compass Club” (each is nicknamed after a point of the compass). I’d expected to be turned off by the club concept, but the intricacies of the story more than made up for the naming system.
— Eve Silver, Dark Desires.
Rather that prostitute herself, a down on her luck Victorian woman becomes an anatomist’s assistant. But is he acquiring his corpses in less than savory ways? A foggy London gothic romance novel of the “is he good? is he evil? is he Jack the Ripper?” variety.
— Carla Kelly, Marrying The Captain.
I’m making up for years of not having read Carla Kelly. Marrying The Captain features another pair of incredibly sensible, likable people: in this case, a viscount’s illegitimate daughter and a naval captain. You can imagine them getting on well with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.
I’ll be getting to the historical fiction and mystery novels in the care package next week….
What have you been reading this week?
Side note: If you’ve read The Ashford Affair, and have thoughts to share, I would be very grateful if you would consider posting a review. (One of the metrics by which authors are judged these days is by number of reviews, particularly Amazon reviews. It’s silly, but there it is.) And now back to our regularly scheduled reading round-up….
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
I have a special treat here today for Thursday Give Away: the wonderful Deanna Raybourn was generous enough to take the time to pop over here to chat about her books– and donate a copy of her upcoming release, A Spear of Summer Grass!
Like another book you might have heard a bit about recently, A Spear of Summer Grass is set in Kenya in the 1920s….
Without further ado, Deanna!
–What drew you to 1920s Kenya?
It’s a time and place I’ve always been enthralled by. In between writing books, I have certain pet subjects—about thirty of them!—that I go back to time and time again, and colonial Kenya is one of those subjects. When my editor told me I had carte blanche to write about whatever I wanted, I immediately zeroed in on that time and that place because it was the perfect excuse to geek out over one of my favorite subjects because I had to do it for work. What better justification is there than that? I pulled all the books about Africa in the 1920s from my TBR pile, grabbed an armful of old favorites off my shelves, and ordered a few dozen more that I hadn’t gotten my hands on yet. By the time I was finished, I had amassed a collection of about sixty books and I devoured them. I love the juxtaposition of the different types of people who gathered there. Establishing a colony is a difficult thing; it calls for people who are daring and courageous and perhaps a little reckless. If you aren’t resourceful and clever and dauntless, you won’t survive, so colonials tend to be extremely colorful people with tremendous stories and larger-than-life personalities. And in British East Africa, there was this magical mixture of aristocrats and farmers and fallen women and bureaucrats and daredevils that was just too delicious not to write about.
— After all those years of Lady Julia, was it odd writing about someone else?
Not entirely—I have written another stand alone, The Dead Travel Fast. But that stand alone was also Victorian, so the real difference came in changing a Victorian heroine for a twentieth century flapper with some serious baggage! Delilah has a lot of attitude, all of it bad, but with good reason. She’s been through some devastating experiences, and like a lot of people emerging from the Great War, she’s got scars. In one scene she confides to a friend, “’I’m dancing on broken glass. I’m Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, Kit. A frothy, expensive, mice-eaten confection. I’m the Sphinx’s nose, the fallen Colossus. I’m a beautiful ruin, and it’s time that’s done the deed.” But in spite of her wounds, Delilah puts on her red lipstick and her dancing shoes and walks with her head up. She’s determined to show her best face, and there’s something courageous about her that makes me feel protective. She’s not easy to like, but when you dig below the surface, there’s something fine underneath.
— Will we see Delilah Drummond again in City of Jasmine?
No, Delilah’s story is finished with A Spear of Summer Grass. In City of Jasmine, I have a new heroine—an English aviatrix named Evangeline Stark who heads to Damascus in 1923 to find the husband she buried five years before—a husband who has somehow turned up very much alive.
— What time period do you most want to set a book in?
I would dearly love to write a French Revolution book—I have the plot completely outlined and I know the main characters, but it’s going to take a long time to assemble all the research and it isn’t time to write that book yet. It’s roughed out to cover about fifteen years, so it will be my magnum opus! It may well be something I work on between contracted novels since I don’t have the faintest idea how long it will take to write. I’ve always liked the idea of having a project to putter with between other books, and this would be perfect for that.
— What’s next for you?
I’m writing the next Julia Grey holiday novella—this one is set at Midsummer and will be published this fall. And I’m also developing the proposal for my next novel which I’m hugely excited about. It’s in the very early stages yet, and I can’t talk until the proposal is done, but it’s the novel I’ll be writing through the autumn of this year, and I expect it will be something quite new for me.
To learn more about A Spear of Summer Grass and the Lady Julia books and novellas, visit Deanna on her website. (I particularly recommend her blog, which is always great fun.)
If you’re in the New York area, you can see us do our song and dance routine together on June 4 at the Mysterious Bookshop (6:00, 58 Warren Street) where Deanna will be talking about A Spear of Summer Grass and I’ll be talking about The Ashford Affair— and whatever else pops into our heads on the spur of the moment, which is the way it usually goes.
And now on to the important bit…. To win a copy of A Spear of Summer Grass, just leave a comment in the Comments section below. The winner will be announced on Sunday.
Thanks so much, Deanna, for coming to visit! A Spear of Summer Grass makes its appearance in bookstores on Tuesday, April 30th.
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
It’s that time again: time to pick a flower for the title of the next Pink book.
Sometimes, a flower presents itself naturally from the narrative. (For example, The Masque of the Black Tulip). Other times, the endeavor becomes somewhat more symbolic.
Pink XI definitely falls on the symbolic side. There is a plant involved called, variously, the manzanilla, the manchineel, or the death apple, but everyone over at my publisher agreed that The Dance of the Death Apple sounded a little too macabre, even for a book set in late October. And there was some concern that calling it Miss Sally Fitzhugh’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Stoats might cause it to wind up in the “Pets” section of the bookstore.
Help! Do you have any suggestions for a flower/title for Sally Fitzhugh’s book?
Here’s a brief, thumbnail sketch of the plot:
It’s October of 1806: the Little Season is in full swing, “The Convent of Orsino” (by a Lady) is the smash hit of the season, and Sally Fitzhugh is fed up. It’s not easy being the younger sister of a man known popularly as “Turnip”. Sally has had it with the men on offer and the rampant vampire craze sparked by “The Convent of Orsino”. Can’t anyone talk about anything but vampires?
People are beginning to speculate that the vampire in “The Convent of Orsino” was based on the mysterious Duke of Belliston, a noted recluse who has recently returned to his abandoned mansion at the heart of Belliston Square. What red-blooded Fitzhugh could resist a challenge like that? At a ball at Lord Vaughn’s house in Belliston Square, Sally ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious duke. He’s certainly playing his role… but is he really what everyone claims? Sally doesn’t believe in vampires. Not even when a woman is found dead in Belliston Square the next morning, with suspicious marks on her neck….
Any and all suggestions much appreciated….
Also, stay tuned for a teaser chapter from Pink XI in the back of the upcoming Pink book, Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Exciting news! The Ashford Affair appears to have come out earlier than originally planned in the UK– in fact, it’s available now!
You can find The Ashford Affair for sale at Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Amazon.co.uk, or in a UK Kindle edition.
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
In last week’s Weekly Reading Round-Up, Ashley and Joanne had a great suggestion: books about books. (Not like we’re a little book obsessed over here or anything.)
So, if you like books about books, you’ll probably like….
— A.S. Byatt’s Possession, in which a letter stuck in a book starts a scholar off on a quest through poetry and the past;
— Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas, in which skullduggery and swashbuckling abound when a book detective is brought in to authenticate a fragment of Dumas’s original manuscript of The Three Musketeers;
— Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, in which Boston’s literary elite must track down a killer whose crimes echo scenes from Dante’s Inferno;
— Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, in which a book called up in the Bodleian launches an American scholar– and witch– into a world filled with arcane creatures and danger;
— Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, in which a Harvard grad student’s search for the mysterious shadow book of Deliverance Dane takes her on a journey into the Salem Witch trials and her own family’s past;
— Barbara Michaels’ Houses of Stone, in which a manuscript by an unknown nineteenth century woman writer sends a scholar hunting through an old Virginia mansion for clues;
— Caroline Llewellyn’s Life Blood, in which a Canadian children’s book illustrator sets out to discover just why certain parties were so eager to see all the copies of her grandmother’s mystery novel destroyed.
Although it doesn’t entirely fit the category, I would also list Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey as a book about books, since it is Catherine Morland’s fascination with gothic novels that drives the plot.
What are your favorite books about books?