So, I’ve been keeping secrets…

Dear Pink Enthusiasts,

I apologize for my subterfuge. I have been keeping something from you. You know how Lauren celebrated the launch of The Lure of the Moonflower with an event at Word in Brooklyn last week?

Well…

IMG_2155

I was there.

Don’t throw things at me! I did it for you all. (Okay, admittedly, I did it for me – but I carried you all with me in my heart!)

I did not get any pictures from the event for two reasons:

  1. The event was basically in Word’s basement, and the lighting was not great.
  2. Lauren is like a hummingbird. If you’ve ever seen her, you know what I mean. She is tiny, super energetic, and continually in motion. Trying to capture her in a still moment proved completely impossible. So rather than trying to take pictures, I put my camera away and just listened. I knew you would want a report!

There was wine. There were pastries. Beth (of Pink III fame) was with me.  Lauren wore an awesome flowery dress, and Beatriz Williams and Sarah MacLean were there to help Lauren celebrate and to facilitate discussion. I think the event was planned to last an hour, but between reader questions and author shenanigans, we were there for two hours. I’d love to share every last juicy moment with you, but you probably haven’t got all day to read this, so I’ll try to stick to the highlights.

First of all, Lauren is by no means swearing off Pink projects forever. She was asked if her characters belong to her or to her publisher, and she was emphatic that Jane and the Pink crew are hers and hers alone. In the future, if she writes another Pink story, she would give Penguin the first opportunity to publish it, but if they chose to pass, she could take her characters and her new story and go wherever she wanted. She also said that she has another idea for a Pink book that she’s interested in writing someday. Don’t start digging out your calendars to mark down pub dates – “someday” is probably several years down the road. But it’s comforting to know that we could have an opportunity to catch up with our favorite flowery spies in the future.

If you’ve already read to the end of Moonflower (no spoilers, y’all!), you know that Lauren included various goodies at the end of the book. In one section of her Q&A portion of the Readers Guide, she talks about bringing the series to a close. But she brought up a really good point at Word that I hadn’t thought about. While her historical heroines have moved from 1803 to 1807, Eloise has been living in 2005 for quite some time, and Lauren said it was becoming increasingly difficult to write her there convincingly. Just think about how much our world has changed in the last 10 years! Could you even imagine the mess that Eloise would have made of Facebook or Twitter? Nightmare scenario.

One of the other things I had never heard Lauren say before was that, after her publisher convinced her that Pink I needed a modern frame in order to get published, they were trying to sweet-talk her into getting rid of Eloise by Pink III. Evidently, chick-lit was in its heyday for Pink I but died an agonizing death by Pink III, and historical fiction was on the rise. Lauren said that several different times over the course of the series she had to fight to keep Eloise and Colin a part of the story. At this point, several people at the event chimed in about how outraged they would have been. More than one reader mentioned that, when they got new Pink books, they read all the Eloise chapters first and THEN went back and read the book cover to cover. What? Did any of you do that? I know I’ve admitted this before (and again, please don’t hurt me), but it took me several books to get invested in Eloise at all. If she and Colin had disappeared in Pink III, I would probably not have cared. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very fond of them now! But it took a while. Was that just me?

There was also the inevitable question for Lauren – WHAT’S NEXT? Well, we already know that she has two projects being published in 2016:

  1. The Forgotten Room, a collaboration with Beatriz Williams and Karen White. I didn’t know this, but evidently each of the authors was responsible for one time period in the book, and they aren’t telling anybody who wrote what! According to Beatriz, even their editors have not been able to tell their sections apart. Do you think we’ll be able to tell? The pub date is January 19.
  2. A Fall of Poppies, an anthology of World War I novellas by nine different authors, obviously including a novella from Lauren. The pub date for this one is March 1.

In addition to these two official projects, there are two other things in the works – HOORAY! First, Lauren is working on something she calls her MGFS: a Multi-Generational Family Saga. She says it will be like The Thorn Birds, only not as depressing and not set in Australia, so on second thought, nothing like The Thorn Birds. I’ve forgotten each of the time periods she mentioned, but Belle Époque Paris and World War I Paris were definitely in the mix. The other project is a second collaboration with Beatriz and Karen. Nothing is set in stone yet, but Beatriz dropped a hint that she’s recently been reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson. If you follow Lauren’s Weekly Reading Round-Up posts, you’ll remember that Lauren just finished reading this too. While there was no “Here’s our plot!” announcement, Lauren and Beatriz did hint that the next book would have something to do with the Lusitania.

One of the most fascinating parts of the event for me was listening to Lauren discuss the divide that can exist between “passion projects” (writing the book that you are on fire to write) and writing what your publisher and editor tell you there is a market for. Lauren says The Ashford Affair was a passion project, and she was just lucky that a publisher wanted to take it on. Her next idea for a passion project was a gothic novel set in the Caribbean – but she was told that gothics don’t sell, and no one wants to read about the Caribbean. Seriously? I would read anything Lauren wrote – after 15 books, I totally trust her. Wouldn’t you? Lauren says that she has been incredibly lucky to have a publisher that encourages her to try new things, and that she is looking for projects that scare her. But she also said that “try new things” seems to be limited to “new books set in England.” Why would any publisher think we wouldn’t follow Lauren to the Caribbean, to Russia, or anywhere else she wanted to take us? We are small, but we are mighty, y’all. I say next time Lauren gets an idea for a book that doesn’t get approval up front, we start a letter-writing campaign.

At the risk of continuing on for another thousand words or so, I will leave you with those impressions. But to wrap up, when I spoke with Lauren briefly after the event, she mentioned that she’s been following along with Pink for All Seasons in a behind-the-scenes way – she said she has really enjoyed having the chance to see the series through all of your eyes. So thank you for all the ways that you have participated over the last year!