Pink VII: Ask the Author

Good morning and happy Monday!

Today, Lauren is returning for another round of Ask the Author.  Do you have questions about Alex and Penelope?  Did this book inspire your curiosity about Jack Reid?  Is there something you have always wanted to know about the Indian setting for this installment of the Pink series?

Now is your chance to ask!  Leave your questions in the comments section below, and Lauren will answer them throughout the day.

One lucky commenter will receive a Blood Lily mug, courtesy of the Pink Fairy.  (If you’d like to see the mugs for each of the books we have read so far, they are all available through Zazzle.)

pink vii mugThanks again to Lauren for hanging out with us today.

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44 thoughts on “Pink VII: Ask the Author

  1. It was fascinating to make a departure from Britain and the European Continent in Betrayal of the Blood Lily. I think the setting really set a different tone for this novel vs. the others, where we discover an exotic new world with Penelope. Did you ever consider setting a Pink book in another far flung locale, and if you could have, which one would it be?
    Thanks,
    -Karen

    • Thanks, Karen! I also loved discovering a new world with Penelope. If the Pink series had meandered on longer, I’d planned to set books in Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Wales. (Exotic, right?) I did manage to sneak a brief little Ottoman epilogue into “Lure of the Moonflower” (although I can’t say more about that without giving too much away), and I hope I’ll get to visit those places with a new book or new series some day.

  2. Lauren, I’m piggy-backing on Karen’s question here – I feel like I remember you mentioning you’d had the idea to set a Pink book in Russia. Did you have an idea of whose story that would be?

    • Ashley, I didn’t. Some books are character driven– by pre-existing characters, I mean, demanding stories for themselves– and others are built around historical events I find interesting. In the Russia case, I’d found a historical anecdote that intrigued me, but I hadn’t quite figured out how it slotted in to the Pink universe– which was partly why it never happened.

  3. Hi Lauren! When did you decide that Alex’s family was going to be so important to the rest of the series? I thought it was interesting that we met Alex’s dad first, before we met Alex.

    • Hi, Rebecca! I didn’t know until I started writing them. (That’s usually how my writing life goes– I never know quite what’s going to happen until it’s on the page.) The second I met Colonel Reid, at that party where Penelope meets Alex, I knew that he and Miss Gwen were going to have to have their own story. It was just a given. And, very conveniently, Colonel Reid was already in the process of heading back to England….

      As for the rest of the Reid family, I got to know them over the course of the book and bit by bit they put down their roots in the series. The clincher was when I finally met Alex’s black sheep brother and knew he was the man I’d been planning for Jane.

      I do love when it all unexpectedly clicks together like that….

  4. Echoing Rebecca, did you know that the Moonflower would be Jane’s love interest when you wrote this book? I feel like this booked marked a big turning point- was that planned or just convenient happenstance?

    • I wish I could say it was planning, but it was really convenient happenstance. Or pure felicity. I’d known for a long time that Jane’s hero was going to be a disaffected soldier of fortune type. I could picture him, by a campfire in Portugal. But that was all I knew about him. And then Jack Reid, aka the Moonflower, walked in at the end of “Blood Lily”, and I had a “hey, wait! You?!?!?!” moment. I recognized him immediately. And it all clicked together. So the short answer is that I didn’t know for 99% of the book, just at the very end.

  5. Hi Lauren! I’ve been a pink fan for a while and can’t wait for the next book! I LOVE Alex’s family, and Jack seems like a fascinating “anti-hero”…I can’t wait to see what happens between him and Jane in Pink XII…how did you manage to reconcile Pen’s independent nature with the expectations of a regency lady? I love how she is ready to take on so much, but sometimes wonder with her if it is a need for independence or a bent for self destruction. Thoughts? P.S. Do any of your pink decedents make appearances in your more modern novels, (like Vaughn’s great grandson).

    • I would love to see a Pen and Alex descendent in a standalone novel! I feel like they would raise some interesting children!!

      • With Alex’s cool head and Pen’s spirit! What a combo – there’s an idea for some stand alones – decedents of Pinks!

      • That’s what I’m saying!! 🙂 They don’t have to be pink carnation per say but a whole ongoing series of descendent stories!!

    • Thanks so much, Patricia! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head that with Pen it’s a combination of independence and self-destruction. With different parents, perhaps, her strong nature might have been channeled into more positive ways– but with Pen, her mother’s constant disapproval and narrow expectations and her father’s indifference pushed her into doing always just the opposite of what was expected of her, creating a downward spiral of living down to expectations. I think it’s Henrietta’s marriage, though, that really pushes her over the edge, making her feel so alone that she acts out in an irreparable way.

      I always knew that I wanted Penelope’s book to be set outside of England. (For a very brief moment, I entertained the notion of a high seas adventure novel complete with Barbary pirates.) For Penelope to grow into herself, she needed to be away from the narrow world of the ton, exposed to other influences and ideas. And India, with its increasingly narrow and narrow-minded English community contrasted with a larger world that was entirely foreign to Penelope, seemed like the perfect place for that.

  6. Pingback: Ask the Author Day: BLOOD LILY « Lauren Willig – News and Events

  7. Ooops, slight tangent there– but the link was, that was how I reconciled it. I knew that Penelope didn’t have the patience and cunning to channel her independent nature within society (as some managed to do rather well), so taking her someplace else was crucial.

    • As for descendants…. I have a Dorrington descendant, Nicholas Dorrington, as the modern hero in my second stand alone, THAT SUMMER (coming out in paperback May 19!) and yet another Vaughn descendant, Cece Heatherington-Vaughn, who plays a prominent part in my third stand alone, THE OTHER DAUGHTER (coming out in hardcover on July 21!). Those Vaughns just creep in everywhere….

  8. Are we going to see anything more of George Reid? I know that he worked for the Bagum Sumru (sp?). Perhaps I am trying to goad more pink books out of you (I have already donned my mourning). Next on the purchase list is That Summer!

    • “Lure of the Moonflower” is the last (official) book in the series, so the odds are that that’s that for George– although a book set around the Begum Samru would be fun!

      • (I do feel a bit guilty about George– he’s the only sibling who doesn’t get the spotlight. On the other hand, he’s the best adjusted of the lot of them, so maybe that makes up for it?)

  9. When you wrote Temptation of the Night Jasmine did you already see the writing on the wall for Penelope and Staines? Or did you consider making him a legit love interest for her in the following book, despite their marriage of convenience?

    • I knew from the beginning that Penelope and Freddy were a train wreck waiting to happen. (If there had been such things as trains.) They were designed to bring out the worst in each other. I’ve always loved marriage of convenience plots, so it was an interesting challenge writing a failed marriage of convenience.

      • I also really liked the idea of turning the marriage of convenience trope on its head and having a marriage of convenience that failed utterly. Perhaps because I do love successful marriage of convenience books so much?

  10. I will look forward to the Ottoman epilogue in Moonflower because Turkey is one of my favorite places. If Penelope and Alex ever do have a short story, would it be set in Alex’s district? I’ve always wondered how their time there went and hope it continued to provide Alex and Penelope with enough good challenges for them to be happy and busy, since those things seem very intertwined for them.

    By the way, Lauren, I’m the history professor who was at the author’s lunch you attended in Connecticut last summer and I can report some progress on my book- it’s now under contract but the publishing process is going very slowly and my editor is less than communicative, and the tenure clock is ticking!

    • Congrats on your contract, Abby! Yay!! I’ve heard that academic publishing works like the windmills of the gods– only slower. So hopefully having the contract in hand is enough the keep the tenure committee happy?

    • Sadly, I don’t think there’ll be a short story, since when I ratcheted up my writing schedule, it meant all the little just for fun projects got axed. But I’ve secretly cherished the idea of writing a book about Mrs. Selwick-Alderly in her youth, during her years in India– so if that ever, ever happens, we would probably get a look at some of Penelope and Alex’s history that way.

      • I would love to read that book! I liked the glimpses of her earlier life in India that we see in Blood Lily and no historian can resist a character who sees documents in need of preservation and does something about it.

        Whether a contract is enough to keep the tenure committees happy appears to be entirely open to the interpretation of the person doing the talking so I go on waiting- and reading Pink Carnation books!

  11. Totally random and tangential question, but Mrs. Selwick-Alderly has a picture of her and a friend skiing from when she was younger in one of her photo albums. The friend’s name is Dodo, any chance it’s the Dodo from The Ashford Affair?

  12. So, as much as I loved this book…I have to wonder why you chose the ending you did for Penelope. As my girlfriends and I were reading through these, we jokingly declared each other as the trio of Penelope, Charlotte, and Henrietta since our friendship/personalities mirrored theirs. So, I was a bit unhappy that my favorite character Penelope just vanished into the wilds of India never to be heard from again. It was sorely disappointing. Other characters get fun cameos in the later books but Penelope and Alex have…disappeared. Any reason you wrote her off?

    • It wasn’t so much writing her off as it was that I couldn’t see her having a happily ever after in England. Both Henrietta and Charlotte found places that suited them at home– Charlotte at Girdings and Henrietta in the heart of London society. But Penelope wasn’t really suited to either life in the English countryside or ton life in London. On the other hand, being the commissioner’s lady in a small district will suit her down to the ground. Charlotte did make it out to India with Robert, and I like to think that letters will flow freely back and forth. And, of course, Penelope and Alex will have to go back to England at least once to meet Alex’s new little sister, Plumeria.

  13. Even if the Pink series is really, truly done (sob!) I hope that you’ll do some more books set, Like Blood Lily, in exotic locales.

  14. Drat! I missed it! I had a question pop up during the re-read that maybe another fan can answer. I got confused with the chronology before they all set off for the hunting trip. I thought Penelope and Freddy fought and she went back to their room to the snake. Then early the next morning she heads off with Alex to catch up with Freddy’s slow moving group that is several days ahead. Did I miss some time or did Freddy use a time machine? And if Freddy had left days ago, why would the hired man put a snake in his room?

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