Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Many of you have asked me what has become of Jane Wooliston since The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. We catch a glimpse of her in the Christmas novella, Ivy & Intrigue, informing Amy that she might be taking a trainee from the Selwick spy school, Laura Grey, over to France. Other than that, Jane has been– well, elusive.
Here’s the scoop.
Sunday, September 14th, 2008
And we have updates!
New to the website are:
— Outtakes from Crimson Rose
— a Who’s Who of the major Pink Carnation character so far (which you can also link to from their Family Tree entries)
— and a new Contest, for cover flats of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose and advance copies of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
As a brief sample, here is my favorite outtake from Crimson Rose. In fact, these are the first paragraphs I wrote when I began working on Crimson. Since both Mary and Vaughn tend to command the public eye, I originally intended to begin each chapter with letter and newspaper excerpts talking about their doings. This excerpt below consists of two letters from Miss Lucy Ponsonby which were originally meant to head up Chapter One, one about Mary, the other to Mary:
“…of all things the most wonderful! I nearly Burst with Laughter when I heard the news. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t had it from Percy, who saw them together—Letty and Lord Pinchingdale, that is—with his own two eyes! It’s a pity Letty caught him (such a freckled little thing!), but I can much better stomach her as Lady Pinchingdale than our Miss Mary…. If you were Mary, wouldn’t you simply Expire of Shame? Balked at the altar by her sister! Perhaps now she won’t be so high in the instep….”
— From Miss Lucy Ponsonby to Miss Myrtia Debenham, 2 July, 1803
“My dearest Mary, I want you to know that all my best wishes are with you in this Most Trying time. I think it absolutely appalling the way Letty behaved, and I cannot understand Lord Pinchingdale at all. He always seemed so devoted. But then Men are such Fickle Creatures, unlike the True Friendship to be found between women. With all the fond and outraged outpourings of my Deepest Heart, I remain your most loving, most loyal LUCY.”
— From Miss Lucy Ponsonby to Miss Mary Alsworthy, 3 July, 1803
Hope you enjoy!
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
As part of an attempt to avoid dealing with several cranky camels in Book VI, I was rooting around in my Book V files looking for the deleted scene where Charlotte waxes nostalgic about her childhood parrot (as you can imagine, the parrot and the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale did not enjoy a harmonious relationship). Naturally, I didn’t find the parrot scene, but I did come upon another deleted snippet from The Temptation of the Night Jasmine that caught my fancy.
Often, in early chapters, I’ll catch my characters engaging in long passages of self-analysis, more fit for a psychoanalyst’s couch than for moving the plot forward. (This, of course, occurs right after they engage in gratuitous antics with unnecessary small animals.) These passages are really more for my benefit than the other characters’, so they tend to get deleted pretty quickly. Nonetheless, these bouts of introspection can be informative, and I was particularly struck by the following (deleted) exchange between Charlotte and Robert:
“You, cousin, are an Original.”
Charlotte looked tolerantly at him, as though he had just said something very silly. “Penelope is an Original. I’m simply a… sort of dilettante bluestocking.”
“A dilettante bluestocking?”
“I’m only a bluestocking when it suits me,” she explained. “I find it very hard to be serious for long periods of time; I like romantic novels; and I can’t find it in myself to eschew the comforts of pretty clothes or comfortable surroundings for a cause or an ideal.”
It’s not great dialogue, but it definitely says something about Charlotte….
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Despite the fact that he has no flowery title to call his own, Lord Vaughn has proved one of the most elusive of my heroes– at least in the looks department.
Ironically, I’ve probably described him in more detail than any of my other heroes (when you’ve hung around for three books, you tend to get more than your fair share of physical descriptions), so we know that he’s of average height but seems taller, that his build is wiry, that his hair is dark and suspiciously frosted with silver (to match his black and silver clothes), that his lips are thin and quick to quirk, and that he has deep shadows beneath his eyes. And so on and so on.
Despite all these individual details, many have commented to me that they have trouble picturing Vaughn. You’re not alone. While I was writing Crimson Rose, the image I had in mind was Sean Bean as Lovelace in the BBC adaptation of Clarissa— although, as I was quick to point out to anyone who asked, Vaughn doesn’t actually look all that much like Bean. I know, I know. It doesn’t make much sense. What I had in mind was more a similarity of soul, as it were (although, since Vaughn would object to that term, let’s call it a similarity of motivation, instead). Bean’s Lovelace is a practiced rake, the sort who views seduction as a sport, somewhat akin to shooting grouse. The more wary the quarry, the greater the challenge. But, um, yes, Lovelace was blond and Vaughn most certainly isn’t.
As I was writing, other comparisons that came to mind were Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (he has the long, thin features down and something of Vaughn’s air of herculean self-control), the guy who plays Lynley in the dramatizations of the Elizabeth George novels (aspects of his appearance are right, but the character is all wrong), and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler (without the little mustache), but none really hit the spot.
I think this inability to pin Vaughn down visually says something deeper about Vaughn as a character. First, Vaughn is a creature of deception for whom every appearance is a performance, every item of clothing a costume (I have serious doubts as to the veracity of that silver in his hair). He creates a shifting show in which the object– for Vaughn, at least– is to prevent us from pinning down anything concrete about him. Second, and in direct contrast to Mary, Vaughn has always operated entirely on strength of character rather than looks. To be frank, his looks aren’t much to write home about. It’s the personality that animates them that makes him so entirely riveting. In that, he has more than a little bit in common with Charles II, who was famously ugly and yet still gets my vote for Monarch With Whom I Would Most Like to Have Drinks.
Even so, it would still be rather nice to have a concrete physical image of Vaughn. Please help me out here! As you can tell, my cinematic lexicon is limited. When you read about Vaughn, who do you picture?
Monday, May 12th, 2008
Earlier today, I wandered over to Julia Quinn’s website to take a peek at the excerpt of her new book, The Lost Duke of Wyndham. There is, as you may have guessed, a crusty dowager involved, one who, the narrator very quickly informs us, does not have a heart of gold.
This line caught my attention because I’d had a very similar revelation about the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, reigning crusty dowager of the Pink books, while I was working on Pink V. Despite the dowager’s slighting comments about her granddaughter, Charlotte, in previous books, I had gone into Pink V fully expecting to discover that beneath the dowager’s demoniacal exterior lurked hidden springs of grandmotherly affection. After all, everyone knows that crusty dowagers in novels always have hearts of gold. It’s practically written in the warranty.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some gold lurking beneath the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale’s tough carapace. To her credit, the dowager uncritically adores Charlotte’s scapegrace friend Penelope. In Book V, when Penelope gets herself into a spot of bother, it’s the dowager who comes stampeding to the rescue, bullying everyone into place on Penelope’s behalf. But the dowager duchess knows what she likes and she knows what she doesn’t like, and she just plain doesn’t like Charlotte.
Part of it is family history. Every time the dowager looks at Charlotte, the girl is a galling reminder of the marriage the dowager failed to prevent, a marriage between her only son and a mealy-mouthed little vicar’s daughter. The dowager is still gnashing her teeth over that one. It wasn’t just that she had a grand match planned for him (although that rankles, too)—it was that her only child dared to defy her. And was happy having done so. That she can never forgive. It doesn’t help that Charlotte looks like her mother’s people, small and fair.
Even so, had Charlotte been more like Penelope, the duchess would probably have taken her to her rather thorny bosom and enthusiastically coached her as a successor. But Charlotte is the dowager’s opposite in every possible way. Where the dowager is an old-fashioned dynast, Charlotte is a sentimentalist. The dowager reads Machiavelli; Charlotte reads Evelina. Having spent her life fighting, clawing, scheming for the advancement of the House of Dovedale, the dowager looks at Charlotte and sees the expiration of all her plots and plans, all wasted on a little chit who couldn’t say boo to a goose. The dowager takes Charlotte’s reserve for weakness, entirely missing the fact that Charlotte is, without making a ruckus about it, just as stubborn as her grandmother.
And perhaps, just perhaps, part of the problem is that the duchess is a born manager—and Charlotte won’t let herself be managed. Sometimes, hiding in a book can be a more effective (and irritating) means of rebellion than shouting back. In her own quiet way, Charlotte gives as good as she gets.
Perhaps we can say that the Dowager has a heart of… brass?