Only one week left until The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores!
The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, aka Pink XI, is Sally’s story. It is, however, not the story I originally intended to tell. I’d known I’d wanted to write a book about Sally, but there were two things I had decided about that book: 1) it would be a Christmas book (because if Turnip had a Christmas book, Sally had to have one, too); and 2) the hero was going to be a cousin of Lord Vaughn’s. Because, really, how amusing would it be to have Lord Vaughn forced to share holidays with Sally? For the rest of his life.
As you can imagine, Lord Vaughn didn’t like this plan.
Surprisingly, neither did Sally. Yes, Turnip had had a Christmas book… but that meant Sally wanted something entirely different. Something better. Christmas had been so done. (Do you ever get the feeling I impute a little too much agency to my characters?)
And then there was that whole Lord Vaughn relative thing…. In my original plan, Sally was, for somewhat tortuous reasons, going to be staying at a Vaughn family estate, during which time she would meet the enigmatic Vaughn cousin, who, of course, was going to be a smuggler, because it’s always rather fun to get to write about smugglers, especially if they’re of the devil may care Rhett Butler sort.
Apparently, Sally has strong feelings about smuggling. She’s really a rather law-abiding soul when it comes down to it. She wasn’t impressed; she was deeply scornful. And she really didn’t want to be related, in any way, shape or form, to Lord Vaughn.
So, by that mysterious alchemy by which ideas transform into books, the Christmas book became a Halloween one, and the hero, rather than being a smuggler, became a reclusive duke (who was not, I hasten to add, any relation to Lord Vaughn). The book does open at a party thrown by the Vaughns, who just happen to live in Belliston Square, which is dominated by the gloomy mansion of the elusive Duke of Belliston, but that’s about the extent of the overlap between the original plan and the eventual book.
Just to add some perspective on this process, way back when, when I started thinking about Turnip’s book, it was going to be set in… June. And involve a spy ring working out of a tailoring establishment (only Turnip’s in depth knowledge of men’s fashion could crack the code!).
Sometimes, it really all does feel like a sort of magic that it eventually comes out the way it does!
To learn more about The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and read that scene at the Vaughn ball, just click here– or buy the book next Tuesday!