Pink Pre-History

Once a book is out in the world, it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always exactly as it was. But every book changes over time, and The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was no exception.

Here are some fun facts about the pre-history of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation:

— Pink wasn’t originally called Pink. My working title was A Rogue of One’s Qwn, since, as we know, all Regency romance novels must have either rake or rogue in the title– and I didn’t want to deal with questions about garden implements. The “of one’s own” was a nod to a private joke with my best friend about Virginia Woolf and a truly awful play about women writers in which we both took part in tenth grade. Since that was rather a mouthful, when talking about the book with my grad school friends (and, later, my editor), I referred to it as “Purple”, after the hero, the Purple Gentian.

— Pink almost bogged down around Chapter Four. Back in 2001, when I began writing it, I just couldn’t get Miss Gwen, Jane, and Amy to Dover. Things kept happening. And they kept talking. (My characters tend to do that.) Fifty pages later, we were still on the road to Dover, and it was beginning to turn into Canterbury Tales: the Napoleonic Edition. I scrapped the entire travelogue, Amy finally met Richard, and the book at last began moving forward– at least, until the 2001-2002 term began and I had to start grading undergrad Western Civ papers.

— Geoff wasn’t Geoff. I stumbled across a pile of old notes a few years ago and was shocked to discover that back in 2001, Geoffrey was Sebastian. And he wasn’t Richard’s best friend (well, second best friend), he was his valet. By the time I picked the manuscript back up, in the summer of 2002, after turning in a large sheaf of undergrad grades, Geoff had somehow become Geoff and a viscount. And that was the way he stayed.

— The book was never meant to be part of a series. I wrote Pink Carnation as a one-off, just for fun. But when my new editor asked me if I’d consider writing another…. Well, it’s like that Ghostbusters line. If someone asks you if you want to write a sequel, you say yes. (Even if you’re a 1L in law school and have no idea how this is going to get done.)

— The cover wasn’t the cover. Back when Pink Carnation was first acquired by Penguin, in the fall of 2003, chick lit was THE dominant genre. So the original plans for the launch of Pink all emphasized Eloise. By the time advance copies– with a chick lit cover– had been sent out to reviewers, chick lit had uttered a gurgling noise, clutched its throat, and died (so to speak). The art department scurried back to the drawing board and came up with the iconic historical Pink Carnation cover.

Pink I ARC Pink 1 cover

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the pre-publication days of Pink?


  1. Donna Thorland on February 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I love this story!

  2. Pamela E. Harris on February 3, 2015 at 12:24 am

    I love these books and did my part as a librarian to make sure as many people as possible had a chance to enjoy them, also. Thanks for sharing the interesting background, and thanks for all these wonderful books.

  3. Lynne on February 3, 2015 at 12:34 am

    When you share all these amusing and interesting facts, Lauren, you just make the stories that much better. Thanks for sharing…the Pink series is that much better for your trivia.

  4. SuzanneH on February 3, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I love all your stories about writing. I am up to Ivy And Intrigue on more 2nd read through and I am really noticing this time how many of the characters who turn up in major roles are in small parts in the very early books. Was that due to a lot of planning at the beginning or did they evolve as you went along?

    • Lauren on February 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Definitely the latter! I tend to think of it as archaeology rather than creation. All these characters are already there for a reason, but sometimes it takes me a while to dig out what that reason is. So many of my leading ladies and gentlemen started out as stock side characters– until they did or said something, and I realized, “Wait! That’s what you’re there for! Hmmm….”

  5. Deborah Kemp on February 3, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for the fun facts! I just finished The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and It was one of my favorites. I will be so sad to see this series come to an end. I have read all of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, and Deanna Raybourne’s Lady Julia series(which sadly has come to an end). Love all you ladies!
    Years ago I wrote and published a series of three romantic suspense novels set in Japan. When I finished the first one, I felt sad that the characters I had lived with were no longer part of my life. My husband suggested a sequel, and I was off and running! While I never enjoyed the success you have had, I can appreciate how involved you get in the lives of your characters.
    Looking forward to your new books this summer!

    • Lauren on February 3, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Congratulations on your books, Debbie! It is wonderful how these characters and worlds take on lives of their own and just demand more attention….

      • Deborah Kemp on February 5, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        Thank you

  6. Liz D. on February 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Such fun facts! I can’t believe the series has been around for 10 years…since I started reading them in college, that makes me feel old 😉 and I love imagining noble Geoff as a valet!

  7. Betty S. on February 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    So glad Geoff became who he is, as he is one of my favorites. Great tidbits!

    Oh, and so glad the cover was changed.

    Moonflower cover looks gorgeous!

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