Ask the Author
For those who might have questions about The Orchid Affair— or the other books– here’s your chance to ask them! I’m opening this post up to any questions you might have. Just post them in the comments section below, and I’ll comment back.
If you like the idea, and would like to see Ask the Author become a monthly feature, let me know!
I have a question about some of the minor characters from the modern section: have we seen the last of Martin and Nick (I *think* that is his name; Serena had a crush on him)? It would be fun to see how that love triangle plays out…I would love to see Martin with Pammy!
My characters never really go away…. I’ll be honest; I haven’t come up with any firm plans yet about Nick or Martin, but there’s a good shot they’ll show up again in the modern segments of the story.
Two questions, please forgive if I missed this. Who exactly is Cecile (or, how did she get involved in the flowery adventures), and will she be back? And secondly, how did Laura find out about the Selwick Spy School. She seems to be thefirst grad, andI am sure her recruitment would be interesting. The Selwick School is going to have to be really busy if their agents keep falling in love with their targets !!
thanks,Lauren,I would love to see this as a regular feature.
I’d love this to become a regular feature. I was wondering how you decide to put certain characters together. I know this may seem like an obscure question, but what is your thought process behind making two characters romantically involved?
To answer your second question first…. There was a deleted bit in “Orchid” where Laura talks about how she was recruited. Jane met her at the wedding of her last charge and was impressed by how well she blended into the shadows. The fact that she spoke entirely fluent and colloquial French was also a plus. Having heard that she was between jobs– and knowing that Richard and Amy were planning on starting their spy academy– Jane personally approached her about the possibility and Laura leapt at it.
As for Cecile, she’s part of Jane’s wide and shadowy network of informers.
Hi, Priyanka! It’s really a lot like playing matchmaker for friends. I fling them together and see if they work. Sometimes, I get it wrong. For example, I’d originally thought Geoff and Jane might work together, but as I was finishing up Pink I, it became clear that the very attributes that made them similar– their cerebral natures, their detachment– militated against their clicking in any romantic way.
The one with whom I had the most trouble was Lord Vaughn. I wrote about that at length on Access Romance a couple of years ago: http://www.accessromance.com/blog/2008/04/18/playing-emma/
I tried to set him up with Penelope and Jane before realizing that Mary was his perfect match.
When I finish one of your books I seem to go through a period of mourning for the characters. I never want the last page to come, yet I want to know how the story ends! Do you miss your characters once you have stopped writing about them, or do they live on in your imagination? Do they continue to weave their stories after you are finished the book, or do you essentially know how the rest of their lives will go while you are writing their story?
Thank you! Ask the Author would be a great permanent monthly feature…
Thanks, Lauren, for your prompt reply !! Now, one more thing to ask (greedy fan that I am). I bet if you asked, everyone would like some Orchid outtakes !!! Especially that scene you just described.
I really like the fact that you tried setting up Lord Vaughan with various characters, because I quite enjoyed watching him. What made it interesting for me, (before we the readers knew more about his personal story) was that he was often far more respectful of the women he interacted with, than the men. I am so glad he ended up with Mary – a woman who is not intimidated by him and is a real match for him in taste, confidence and boundaries.
Now for my Orchid question.
You mention that Andre and Laura & family end up going to Louisiana. Why did you pick there and not one of the French heavy settlements in Upper or Lower Canada or New Brunswick? Is it because of the weather? Because I kept wondering if they would have been entirely safe in Louisiana, only months after its sale to the U.S.
I have now read THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION. Can this series be read at random or is it best to read them in chronoligical according to their publishing date? I’m thoroughly hooked and eventually want to read them all. My dear lady, you are on top of your game!
Sally, Lizzy, and Agnes are by far the most entertaining characters! Please tell us you are going to unleash them against the French some point soon!
Thanks for being so generous with sharing the past and future of all of your characters.
I would love this to be a monthly feature.
In the book, Eloise mentions that the Pink Carnation was active in Paris from spring 1803 to summer 1804. Where does Jane go after that?
Also, how did Jane talk her parents into letting live in Paris for so long? Did she tell them she was the Pink Carnation?
My question is not so much about the novels, but about how you feel on them. If you were just a reader, which would be your favorite?
Hi, Meredith! It’s a mixed bag. With some characters, like Laura and Andre– or, for that matter, with Mary and Vaughn– I have a pretty clear idea of where they’re going next. Others are much more up in the air. Richard and Amy, for example, are still a developing story in my head (which is why I wrote “Ivy & Intrigue”), as are Turnip and Arabella and Penelope and Alex. And even when I know the broad outlines of how their lives will turn out, I’m still interested in the day to day details. For example, I know where Vaughn and Mary end up, but they’re going to have some interesting times in between.
So, the short answer is yes, I do miss them– and I keep checking in on them to see how they’re doing. Sometimes, they surprise me….
Hi, Katrina! As a side note, I’m very intrigued by your observation about Lord Vaughn. I think you’re absolutely right and he’s one of these gentlemen who deal better with ladies than with men. In a way, it’s part of his lingering attachment to the world of the 18th century, in which women play powerful roles in politics and the arts– it’s a world in which Vaughn is very much at home.
On the Louisiana front, it’s because it had been sold to the US that Laura and Andre feel safer there. They’re in an interesting fix. They’re wanted by the current French government, but they don’t real fit in with the nostalgic rah-rah Royalist crowds either. The sentiments of the American republic suit Andre far better than anything else going, which is why I see him eventually retooling and taking up a law career again, in a largely French-speaking society, but under the aegis of the US government.
Weirdness! I thought I had been putting your questions at the top of my posts, but it appears that the internet ate them….
Jeffrey, thank you so much! You can find my recommend reading order (at unnecessary length) on the Diversions page: https://laurenwillig.com/diversions/bookorder.html
Hi, Nikki! I definitely do intend to unleash those three scamps. There’s no way they’re not getting some air time of their own….
Hi, Rebecca! The answer to your question is actually related to Nikki’s, above. (Nicely done, you two.) Jane is going to have to come back from Paris at some point in mid to late 1804 because Agnes, along with her friend Lizzy, has disappeared from Miss Climpson’s Academy. Foul play? Or just Lizzy being Lizzy? Either way, Jane is worried enough to come back from Paris to try to hunt her sister down.
As for Jane’s parents… they’re not the most together of people. They’re off in their own ovine/embroidery worlds. Since Jane is staying with her first cousin, Edouard, and chaperoned by Miss Gwen, they’re more than all right with her taking an extended vacation abroad. They really have no idea.
Oh, Natalie, that’s a tough one. It’s hard for me to step back and see my books as a reader rather than as the writer. The problem is that there are so many shadow versions– things that happened but got cut, things that almost happened but changed, and so on– living in my head that it’s hard for me to see them as they are, rather than as the process of creating them.
But if I had to pick one, it would probably be “Mistletoe”.
First I want to tell u that I really enjoyed the book! It really gave you a sense of what life was like in Paris during Napoleon’s rule. You really felt the anguish and anxiety people were going through. You have a great way of making the reader feel that they are right there in the middle of the action. I can’t wait for the next book.
I was just curious, but in your last chapter where Eloise is reading about Andre’s and Laura’s life, why did you not write anything about their kids or if they had any? Is that supposed to be a surprise for another book? Do their kids grow up to be spies? I couldn’t help but wonder..
What do Andre and Laura do in England before they head off to Lousiana? Will we see them in future books? Does Laura continue to work for the Pink Carnation?
I was just wondering, which book so far has been the most difficult for you to write?
Just curious 🙂
Did the ribbon Catherine Carruthers stole from Sally end up tying a certain Christmas pudding?
Beena, thanks so much for your kind words about “Orchid”!
There’s nothing about Laura and Andre’s kids because the book Colin gave Eloise is an art book, primarily interested in Julie Beniet. Andre gets a mention as her husband, and Pierre-Andre and Gabrielle get mentioned as her children (and because there’s a crayon portrait she did of them), but Laura and any children Andre might have by Laura are entirely irrelevant to the authors of that text. If Eloise wanted to, she could track down Andre and Laura’s offspring via local records in Louisiana, but my guess is that she’s not that motivated; it’s too far away from her dissertation.
Hi, Rebecca! Andre and Laura only spend about two years in England before heading on to America. For Andre, the language barrier is a big problem; he speaks English, but poorly, and he’s not used to being perceived as inarticulate. Both of them are happy to move on to a new life in a new world.
During those two years, though…. They may, indeed, both do a little work for the Pink Carnation. We may see more of them.
Hi, Beena! The books on which I floundered the most have been “Emerald Ring” (which stalled out on Chapter Six for several months) and “Mistletoe” (which almost got tossed after six chapters). Bizarrely, the books which were easiest to write– at least, in recollection– were “Crimson Rose” and “Blood Lily”.
Yes, it did, Miss Eliza; yes, it did.
I think I asked this already on your Facebook page, but what are everyones’ middle names? After Lady Uppington’s “Henrietta Anne Selwick” comment in the Pink Carnation, I’ve been curious! 😀 Can’t wait for the next book! Emma seems like a very unique character.
One last question.. in the Orchid Affair, Daubier refers to how he was the reason that Delaroche caught up with them. However, it was not clear as to how Delaroche found Andre and Laura and company. How does Delaroche find them?
My question is will we be seeing any more of Jack Reid anytime soon?
Your difficulty matchmaking Vaughn is actually one of the aspects of books 2 and 3 that I really enjoyed. It isn’t often that romance novels have extra love interests in them, and you keep thinking in those books–what is Vaughn doing? Is he a love interest or not? He keeps turning up! So, your frustration, our gain.
Kristen, may I plead authorial laziness here? I do have their middle names somewhere, but it would mean scrabbling through all my files of old notes….
Hi, Beena! For anyone who hasn’t read “Orchid”, this is a huge spoiler (cover your eyes!), but the reason Delaroche knows is because Harlequin sells them out. He sees one of the “wanted” signs and calls in the reward.
Hi, Colleen! We don’t actually see Jack Reid in Pink X, but he’s a huge presence in the book. His actions act as the catalyst for the events in the book– and let’s just say his older sister Kat isn’t all that happy with him right now.
Okay, my questions are about characters that come and go.
Who was the ‘monk of Donwell Abbey’ that Henrietta chased in Tulip? is there a repeat performance of the same ‘monk’ in Jasmine?
Signor Marconi…what’s he really up to? I’m thinking he’s been in every book since Tulip, if not by name. Am I right?
Was Jack Reid involved before Blood Lily that we don’t know yet?
I lied…one more…
You’re so good at listening to our requests…now Tommy is getting his book.
Any chance of a prequel with the Duke & Duchess of Uppington? Like in the same format as Mistletoe or a freebee like Ivy & Intrique? Please. Pretty Please.