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