Pink IV: Ask the Author

Crimson Rose British cover

It’s that time again!

Since we’re wrapping up our month of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, Lauren has agreed to return for another round of Ask the Author.  She’ll be popping by throughout the day to answer whatever questions you have about Mary, Vaughn, or anything else Pink IV.  Lauren, as always, thank you so much for visiting with us.

We’ll pick up with our rereading on January 1 with The Mischief of the Mistletoe.  If you’re confused about the reading order, take a look at this previous post to find out what’s up.

29 thoughts on “Pink IV: Ask the Author

  1. Lauren,
    My question has to do with the way you construct your books, especially this one. How do you tie in all of your literary references and quotes? Do they come to you as you write the story, or during revisions? I am always amazed at your literary knowledge and the way these quotes and character references from other works fit so easily into your novels. I quess they were even more apparent during the Crimson Rose reread, which set me to wondering.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and thanks!

    • That is a great question!! I can’t wait to hear the answer to this question! Vaughn and Mary as so literary and so quick witted!! I can imagine that would be difficult to keep straight, especially through revisions.

    • Betty, yes! I especially noticed that during the re-read of this book, also! I particularly noticed it with the selections at the beginning of each chapter. Thanks for asking this!

      • That’s so sweet of you all! I suppose you could call it the wages of a misspent education: I was a Renaissance Studies major in college, which means that I can quote large chunks of Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry which take up a lot of room in my brain that’s meant to be dealing with things like whether I remembered to move the laundry to the dryer. Which is why I have soggy laundry and my characters tend to misquote Shakespeare….

      • That’s the silly reply. A more serious one, I suppose, would be that I’ve always been struck, reading authors like Wodehouse, Waugh, Mary Stewart, and M.M. Kaye, by how much the Greek and Latin classics and the Elizabethans are part of an interwoven English literary tradition that would have been very much part of the heritage of my characters. It’s part of how they relate to the framework of their world, particularly a world without television and other distractions. You could call it a literary lingua franca, a shorthand for expressing ideas and feelings.

        Being different sorts of people, different characters relate to different authors and bits of the literary tradition. The metaphysical poets seemed made for Vaughn’s twisty mind. The prevalence of poetry in “Crimson Rose” is also symptomatic of Vaughn’s inability to express his own emotions. He likes to hide behind other peoples’ words: they provide a screen for him. It’s when he’s forced to abandon quotation and speak for himself that we know he’s being genuine– and it’s when he’s quoting up a storm that we know he’s anxious.

      • Oh, the revisions bit! I tend to revise very little with the Pink books. What you see is what was in the first draft, pretty much, with some tweaks here and there. (It’s been a different story with the stand alones, which have required a lot more gut renovation.) The quotations and so on were all there in the first draft, although there were times I had to go double-check later on and make sure I’d quoted correctly.

      • Thanks so much, Lauren. I am truly amazed at the knowledge and ability to recall “chunks” of poetry from your wonderful education. I just retired in June after teaching 5th graders reading and writing for 23 years. Over the years I have seen the requirements for memorization of poetry and other important documents gradually diminish, until it is almost nil at this time. The thought has become, “Why require students to memorize information that they can look up on the computer.” This has saddened me, and I believe it is one of the downfalls in education today. I can still recite some poems as well as sections of Shakespeare, especially in “Julius Caesar”, and parts of important historical documents from my education. However, I would venture that my knowledge would only be about 1% of what you have memorized.

        The importance of memorization was brought home to me in recent years as my father was struggling with dementia. He passed away 3 years ago a month before his 91st birthday, and in the last few years of his life recitation of poetry and songs was his one link to the real world. It was one of the few ways left to communicate with him and see his eyes light up. I could start a song or say something like, “Daddy, let me hear Marc Antony’s speech,” and he would spout it out. Dad was unable to use a phone, control a TV remote, and definitely not able to use a computer, but somewhere in his brain was information he had memorized in high school and college. You are blessed to have had such a wonderful education, Lauren, and I thank you for sharing it with your readers. I could very easily have lived in the time period you write about without television and other “distractions”.

  2. Did you know while writing Pink II & Pink III that Jamie was the Black Tulip? Or did you come up with the character while writing Pink IV?

    • Since these books have been a rather make it up as you go enterprise, I will admit that I had no idea during “Black Tulip”. I really believed that the Black Tulip was… well, to avoid spoilers for people who might not have read it, that the Black Tulip was a certain lady with stilettos in her hair. By the time I started writing “Emerald Ring”, I realized that there was a larger, more complex story arc there. I can’t remember exactly when I figured out just who the Black Tulip was and why he was doing what he was doing, but it was probably mid-way through “Emerald Ring”.

  3. Hi Lauren!
    First of all, I started crying in the hair salon when I was reading my kindle right around chapter 23, I think. I was sitting there, with tinfoil in my hair and tears running down my face, as I was rereading a book. I already knew exactly what was going to happen, and the way you wrote Vaughn and Mary still moved me. In all sincerity, thank you. (I was in a corner and probably not too much of a spectacle, not that I really cared 🙂 )

    I have a question about your fabulous audio books. How much input do you have as an author over who the reader will be? Yours are very enjoyable, including this one.

    About Mary. I don’t know how to frame my question, but how far back did you know she was going to end up being her own kind of glorious? I remember reading Emerald Ring and not liking her. That was a problem for me going into Crimson Rose, but you knew that would be for readers. Was that part of the plan when you were writing Emerald Ring or did it evolve? Was it scary to try to make her the heroine for us or was it fun to peel back the layers and show us the rest of the story? I never felt manipulated.

    Thank you for doing this with us and Happy New Year!

    • Oh, Paige, thank you! That warms the cockles of my heart. I’m so pleased. (Especially since I went all teary over a book that I’d already read, too, the other day.)

      On the audio books, way back before Pink I came out, Penguin sent me a few demo tapes of the reader they’d chosen– Kate Reading– and asked if I approved. I listened and said, yes! great! I am still so grateful to them for finding Kate Reading for the Pink books. She’s done a superlative job and IS those characters for so many people. After that first “yes”, things just meandered along until Pink V, when Penguin wound up booking another reader because Kate Reading was unavailable. There was much unhappiness. Since then, I always make sure, with each new Pink book, to put in a request for Kate Reading with my editor, who then passes the message along to the audio folks.

    • Now the Mary question…. The short answer is, I didn’t. Mary was a throw away, a foil, a stock character. (As, for that matter, was Turnip. And Miles. Those throw away stock characters seem to wind up being my favorite people in the end!) The fourth book in the series was going to be Charlotte’s. I’d planned it that way and I’d even started researching Charlotte’s book. But, as I was writing “Emerald Ring”, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mary and how she must feel and what it must all look like from her point of view. And then there was Lord Vaughn. I’d toyed with the idea of pairing Lord Vaughn with Jane, with Penelope, even with Charlotte. None of them worked. But Mary did. I’d already sent a proposal along to my publisher for Charlotte’s book as Book IV, but after Mary and Vaughn gave me a few weeks of sleepless nights (and this was my 3L year of law school; I needed all the sleep I could get), I called my editor and said, “Hey, about that next book…. I know this sounds crazy, but what do you think of my writing a book about Mary instead of Charlotte?” And my editor, bless her, said, “If that’s what you want to do, do it”, or words to that effect.

      There were many times, the following year, as I was writing that book when I wondered if I were utterly crazy. (Especially when the “the next book is about MARY? Seriously?” emails began pouring in.) But, in the end, I’m so glad that Mary and Vaughn muscled their way in.

      Part of the challenge with Mary– as with Turnip, in a very different way– was not to fall into the trap of trying to make her heroic. I wanted her to be true to who and what she was, not secretly full of sweetness and light– but I wanted us to see the world from her point of view, and, because of that, respect her if not like her. It was made easier by the fact that Mary has such a strong “voice”. That helped drive the story along and saved me from trying to soften her edges.

  4. When my mom and I were talking about Pink III, she mentioned that “kidnap the wrong bride” is a plot line she has read from a few different authors and one she really enjoys.

    With that in mind, Lauren, is “husband/wife back from the dead” a plot thread from any of your favorite books? Would you recommend any (other than Pink IV, of course!)?

    • Oddly, I’m drawing a complete blank! I definitely considered “kidnap the wrong bride” a theme and was very conscious of writing as part of a tradition (hello, “Devil’s Cub”!) when I wrote “Emerald Ring”. But when it came to Lord Vaughn’s wife… that was just something I happened to know about him as an individual. Unlike other plot twists, which sneak up on me, this was something I knew about Lord Vaughn from the beginning, way back in “Black Tulip”. It was part of his back story, and why he plays such a cat and mouse game with Henrietta.

      But I have no idea where I got the idea from.

      I know I must have read spouse back from the dead books. There was a Mary Balogh spouse back from the dead book I vaguely remember reading back in grad school (and the heroine’s name might have been Lauren?), but I’m having trouble thinking of others. There’s a reverse spouse back from the dead story in one of the Anne of Green Gables books (it turns out the man wasn’t her husband after all), and, of course, “The Return of Martin Guerre”, which I read in grad school, but other than that…. Huh. If I think of anything, I’ll pop back in and let you know!

      • Oh, wait! Judith McNaught’s “Something Wonderful”! There’s a husband back from the dead plot for you… but it’s more of a subplot than a full on plot plot.

        I’ll keep thinking…. Anyone else have any ideas? Bueller?

      • The Mary Balogh book you are referring to is ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE in which Neville is about to marry his cousin (Lauren) when his wife, Lily (whom he saw killed) returns – an excellent book!

  5. I noticed at the end when Eloise is talking to Collin that she mentions a possible Pink Carnation escapade in Russia. Then it was also mentioned in “Ivy and Intrigue”. Was that a plot that you were considering that never developed? I’ve always been fascinated with Russian history so I would love a book in Russia.

    • Yes, it was! There’s a wonderful account of a gently bred young woman who goes into the Russian cavalry disguised as a man circa 1807. The timing was too perfect not to co-opt for my Pink books. But what with one thing and another, I never did manage to get around to my Russian book. Around “Blood Lily”, it became clear to me that I couldn’t just take the books wherever I found interesting, but that the series was developing a story arc of its own that needed to be followed. That was both exciting (it’s always fascinating seeing something you thought was amorphous take definite shape) and limiting.

      • Me, too! I’m not ruling out the possibility of going back and writing some “further adventures of…” some day, out of series order. I still want to write my Russia book, and Kat and Tommy’s book (which was going to be set in Wales), and, oh, a few others.

      • Yay, Kat and Tommy!! That makes my heart happy that you planned that, even though you haven’t had the opportunity to write it … yet (I’m holding out for the yet).

  6. It’s been quite a few years since I read Crimson Rose, so I don’t think I can ask an articulate question, though I’ve very much enjoyed reading the ones posted here. I just wanted to chime in to say that Mary and Lord Vaughn are my favorite Pink couple. I guess the sharp edges are what do it for me, since I also like Penelope a great deal!

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