Pink VIII: Ask the Author

It may be a dreary Thursday (not sure how the weather is where you are, but it’s pretty ominous-looking outside my window), but I’m going to focus on The Orchid Affair and keep visualizing a spring day in the French countryside!

Today, Lauren is returning for another round of Ask the Author.  What questions do you have about Miss Laura Grey, Andre Jouen, and the rest of the Pink VIII crew?  Post your questions in the comments section, and Lauren will pop by later this afternoon to answer them.

As always, the Pink Fairy has a gift for a lucky commenter today.  The prize is a Pink VIII mug designed by Miss Eliza.  Et voilà:

pink viii mug

Want to see the mugs for all the books we’ve read so far?  They are all available on Zazzle.

Go forth and ask your questions, good readers!  And happy last-day-of Pink VIII to one and all.

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25 thoughts on “Pink VIII: Ask the Author

  1. Pingback: Ask the Author Day: ORCHID AFFAIR « Lauren Willig – News and Events

  2. Hi Lauren!

    The descriptions and actions of Miss Grey in “Tulip” paint a different picture than the one we get of Laura in “Orchid”. Did you always have the plan of giving Laura her own book? If not, what was it about the Miss Grey character that compelled you to delve deeper into her history? Also, will we see any other spy school graduates in “Moonflower” or find out what happens to them?

    • When I wrote “Black Tulip”, I did have in the back of my head the vague notion that the spy school graduates might come in handy– but, I confess, I really thought I was going to write a book about the Tholmondelay brothers, not Miss Grey.

      Some books are outside in (I have an idea and find the character to fit) and some books are inside out (I have a character and build a plot around him or her). “Orchid Affair” was the latter. When I turned in the manuscript of “Night Jasmine” in the spring of 2008, I celebrated with an evening of vegetation, quiche, and tv. I happened to flip past the movie version of Susan Issac’s “Shining Through”. I’d read the book years before… but something about seeing Liam Neeson as the Nazi employer of the undercover governess heroine made me really stop and think. What if he weren’t a Nazi? What if it were set in some other time period where being on the opposite side wasn’t as awful. And then I realized, wait, I write in that other time period. Why not a Frenchman, a former Revolutionary. One can understand why men espoused the revolution; it’s not as offputting as, well, Nazis.

      And then I remembered that I had my governess, Miss Grey. And the idea for “Orchid” was born….

      • I love Shining Through!!!! It was one of the movies that made me want to read the book – it is a book that gets me in a vicious cycle…book/movie/book/movie…Now that you mention it, I can see the similarities!

  3. Oh, I wish I could think of a question! I’ll just say I loved the story, I think it’s my favorite. I really like the characters, the twisting plot, and the sense of real movement as they travel through the story. And I LOVE what Eloise discovers about the history… as some who often ends up researching parts of the past that are less documented, I really appreciate the idea that the entire story doesn’t make it into “the books”

  4. Was it hard to transition from writing about the original Pink cast of characters to newer characters?

    PS> In my imagination, where this series continues forever, Gabrielle Jaouen definitely gets a book.

    • There were times when I wondered if I was doing something very foolish by moving the series to an unknown hero and heroine, if people would feel like it wasn’t closely enough connected or view it as an interruption in our regularly scheduled program. But from a writing point of view, it was very refreshing and freeing to move away from the main cast and get to know new characters, both from very different backgrounds than the rest of the Pink gang.

  5. Is there a possiblity of a book about the Jaouen family in America? I could see one as a stand alone, either historical for the time period in New Orleans, or a look back from descendants a al Ashford Affair. I’m of a mind with Heather – the brief character sketch provided in Eloise’s part about Gabrielle is just too good to pass up. However, I also would love to hear more about Andre and Laura.

    I loved this book, even more the second time around. From a literary stand point, I love all of your descriptions, both of characters and setting, as well as to create mood – that dripping rain and the gray, gray world along with the rusty black coats. Thanks for another wonderful historical/mystery/spy book. And thanks for taking this time with your fans, as I know you are extremely busy.

    • That did pop up in the back of my head as I was writing the description of Gabrielle’s life in that Eloise chapter! (I had old Alexandra Ripley novels in mind.) Perhaps one of these days… but I’d have to do a lot of research to get up to speed on New Orleans!

  6. Hi Lauren!

    I loved the transition of Laura from the “grey lady” to the vibrant woman that she turned out to be…in your author’s brain what was it that made her “grey” at the beginning of the book? I felt that it was her having to hide her true self and never really getting to be Laura. Did her being overshadowed by her famous parents also cause her to be so drab? What do you think was the real awakening of Laura?

    • Thank you, Patricia! It’s to hard to remember what I was thinking back then, but I think it was a combination of the self-effacement required in being a governess, the drab (literally gray) wardrobe that comes with the position, and the contrast between her early life and her later life in service. For me, envisioning Laura, it was her life post her parents’ death that drained the color from her– before that, she had found her own niche with her parents, a practical niche, not really what her parents wanted of her, but still useful and important. She had most of the practical power in that household. And, of course, she had the cachet of being her parents’ child. To move from that to being a sort of upper servant, dependent on the whims of employers, knocked the stuffing out of her.

      As for her awakening– that’s an excellent way to put it, because I thought of Laura as frozen in time. Her life stopped with her parents’ death. There was a Laura Grey going through the motions, but the real, underlying Laura was frozen at sixteen. I’d say her awakening comes of being back in Paris, being recognized by Daubier, being treated as a person by Andre, slowly coming back to the person she had been and reconciling that to what she had become.

      • I guess in one way Andre’s republicanism (government not party) had its true American form in him…He saw no subservient positions, and saw the worth of a person that was implicit rather than as a station or right of birth. If it had been he in charge of the revolution, how different it would have been.

  7. Everyone has such deep questions so far, mine are totally going to seem silly!

    Did Andre and Laura ever have children of their own?

    The Commedia troops wagons, were they more what we think of as traditional gypsy wagons or more Conestoga wagons?

  8. How did Cecelie end up working for the Pink Carnation? She is French but working for an English spy. I’d always hoped that Cecelie would get her own book.

    • When I started researching the Pink books way back when, one of the things that struck me was how many of the initial secret agents employed by the Alien Office were a) women, and b) French. (Or a) French, and b) women, depending on how you look at it.) While we think of the Napoleonic Wars as an English/French conflict, it’s helpful to remember that it was also, to a certain extent, an internal French conflict, between those who supported the new regime(s) and those who fought for a Bourbon restoration. Cecelie was based partly on a female French royalist agent on the English payroll with the code-name La Prime-Rose.

  9. I think I missed the cutoff yesterday was a stressful day! My question is a little silly but was it weird to have a main character that has a very similar name to you?

    • Not silly! And no. Laura and Lauren are such different names in my head (despite my brief stint telling my nursery school teacher that my name was really Laura because there was a boy named Loren in my class and I didn’t want to be called by a boy’s name– but I digress). I’m trying to think whether it would be bother me to write a character named Lauren. Probably not. The characters are such people of their own in my imagination, and I, as myself, am so removed from them (I’m just there in my author capacity) that my name doesn’t seem to matter. If that makes any sense at all….

      • Thanks Lauren!! Its so interesting to hear what an author thinks 🙂 I can’t wait for your new books!!

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