Teaser Tuesday: A Bit of MANZANILLA Background

Only one week left until The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores!

Manzanilla Card 10

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, aka Pink XI, is Sally’s story. It is, however, not the story I originally intended to tell. I’d known I’d wanted to write a book about Sally, but there were two things I had decided about that book: 1) it would be a Christmas book (because if Turnip had a Christmas book, Sally had to have one, too); and 2) the hero was going to be a cousin of Lord Vaughn’s. Because, really, how amusing would it be to have Lord Vaughn forced to share holidays with Sally? For the rest of his life.

As you can imagine, Lord Vaughn didn’t like this plan.

Surprisingly, neither did Sally. Yes, Turnip had had a Christmas book… but that meant Sally wanted something entirely different. Something better. Christmas had been so done. (Do you ever get the feeling I impute a little too much agency to my characters?)

And then there was that whole Lord Vaughn relative thing…. In my original plan, Sally was, for somewhat tortuous reasons, going to be staying at a Vaughn family estate, during which time she would meet the enigmatic Vaughn cousin, who, of course, was going to be a smuggler, because it’s always rather fun to get to write about smugglers, especially if they’re of the devil may care Rhett Butler sort.

Apparently, Sally has strong feelings about smuggling. She’s really a rather law-abiding soul when it comes down to it. She wasn’t impressed; she was deeply scornful. And she really didn’t want to be related, in any way, shape or form, to Lord Vaughn.

So, by that mysterious alchemy by which ideas transform into books, the Christmas book became a Halloween one, and the hero, rather than being a smuggler, became a reclusive duke (who was not, I hasten to add, any relation to Lord Vaughn). The book does open at a party thrown by the Vaughns, who just happen to live in Belliston Square, which is dominated by the gloomy mansion of the elusive Duke of Belliston, but that’s about the extent of the overlap between the original plan and the eventual book.

Just to add some perspective on this process, way back when, when I started thinking about Turnip’s book, it was going to be set in… June. And involve a spy ring working out of a tailoring establishment (only Turnip’s in depth knowledge of men’s fashion could crack the code!).

Sometimes, it really all does feel like a sort of magic that it eventually comes out the way it does!

To learn more about The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and read that scene at the Vaughn ball, just click here– or buy the book next Tuesday!


  1. Pat D on July 29, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Lauren, I received the ARC of Midnight Manzanilla today. Thank you so much! Perfect timing too. I just finished The Book of Life last night, so I am ready to dive in to a new story. Sally and her stoat will fill the bill beautifully.

  2. Lorri on July 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Ugh, I cannot wait! I’ve just reread Mistletoe and oh boy I missed you so much Turnip and Arabella. <3 And no, you don't impute too much agency to your characters — in fact, I love how you are able to let go and let them write their own stories.

  3. TJ on July 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Cannot wait! The series starts with fun, girly, yet complex female characters and I feel like the later books take a completely different tone as the females get more serious and sometimes even dark (Penelope) at times. It’s interesting to see that change of pace, but will also be great to read hopefully a lighter-toned book again. Looking forward to the giggly Sally as a heroine and that smile-cracking humor that pervaded Amy and Henrietta’s stories.

  4. Karen H on July 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    So I love the book as it is now. It’s amazing now. However, this is hilarious. I propose you write a novella with above story line from Sally’s season before Halloween. Reading all of that not work out would be amazing.

  5. Marie DeGrandchamp on July 29, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    8/5 can’t come soon enough!
    Love your style and story lines no matter which direction the characters make you go….

  6. Paige on July 30, 2014 at 2:00 am

    I so have “one week more” to the tune of “one day more” from Les Mis in my head. I am excited to receive my pre-ordered copy on release day!

  7. jeffrey on July 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

    You are quaintly enigmatic in that it seems your characters are telling YOU what to do instead of the other way around. Got my Kindle copy on pre-order! Bring it on!

  8. Elizabeth K. Mahon on July 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Hilarious Lauren! I still think you need to do something with both of those ideas.

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