Today I’d like to introduce my very good friend and fabulous author Caroline Linden. I found this lovely picture from the Avon party in New York this summer. That’s Caroline on the right, with Laura Lee Guhrke. Don’t they both look gorgeous? Lady B, allow me to present Miss Linden
Lady B: Delighted you could join us. Are you by any chance related to my great aunt the Countess of Lyndon? Lovely gel, though sadly taken in by that scoundrel Barry.
Caroline: My name is spelled differently.
Lady B: I’m glad to hear it. I wouldn’t like any of my dear Authoresses to be taken in by an Adventurer.
Miranda: [aside] I think Lady B’s been at the ratafia again. [to Lady B.] I hope Caroline will tell us about her recent a trip to London, for a special occasion.
Caroline: Oh yes, the very best sort of occasion for a romance novelist: a wedding!
Miranda: Please tell us about it. Was it a traditional English wedding? I bet it was very different from the Bhutan Royal Wedding that Tessa blogged about last week.
Lady B: We love weddings at The Ballroom. Especially Royal Weddings.
Caroline: It wasn’t royal. Sadly it wasn’t even in Westminster Abbey, and because it was an evening wedding, there was no excuse for me to wear a big hat. Obviously my English friend has no consideration for the deprived Americans … either that, or she feared our hat taste would eclipse even Princess Beatrice’s. But it was a beautiful ceremony, with wonderful music (the bride and groom are both accomplished musicians with many talented friends), much laughter, toasts in foreign languages, and a really beautiful setting: The Foundling Museum.
Miranda: It sounds marvelous. And what an unusual setting. Can you tell us some of the history of the Foundling Hospital?
Caroline: It was founded in 1741 by Captain Thomas Coram to provide ‘maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children’, who were left at the hospital by parents unable to care for them. Children were left with a small token of some sort–a scrap of cloth, a note, some trinket–which were all registered in hopes the family could someday return to claim the child. Horribly, there was way more need than there were places for all the children. Mothers literally had to win a lottery to be able to leave their baby where it would be fed and cared for; most children were never reclaimed by their parents. Here’s an article about some of the heartbreaking stories in the archives:
Lady B: How dreadfully sad. I shall make Lord B. send a donation to help these poor infants.
Caroline: To support the hospital, prominent artists and musicians contributed works. Handel conducted concerts for the benefit of the hospital, and William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, and Thomas Gainsborough (among many) donated artwork, which now form the Foundling Museum Collection. The Foundling Hospital ceased taking in abandoned children in the 1950s, and it split into the Museum and the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, which still provides assistance to children and families in need.
Miranda: What an amazing history. Sounds really worth a visit. Where did the ceremony take place? Not in orphan dorms, I hope.
Caroline: The wedding was in two beautifully restored Georgian rooms, the Court Room and the Picture Gallery. The ceiling in the Court Room has a magnificent ceiling; the Museum provides mirrors so you can study it without breaking your neck.
Miranda: What incredible interiors. I bet they didn’t let the children play in them!
<squawk> did they allow parrots? <squawk>
Miranda: Why would they not, Albert? Caroline, You have a new book out, ONE NIGHT IN LONDON (one of Avon’s K.I.S.S. and Teal books, along with Tessa and Katharine’ new releases) as well as a novella. Can you tell us about I LOVE THE EARL, and how it fits in with your new series?
Caroline: I LOVE THE EARL is the accidental prequel to the trilogy. I wrote it after finishing the second book of the trilogy. I couldn’t have written it sooner, though, because the character didn’t exist until I sent Gerard, the duke’s youngest son, to visit his aunt in BLAME IT ON BATH. Whenever I have a character of any import at all, I make up little stories about them, just so I get a better feel for how they will act, and so I decided this aunt had a romantic story of her own, along with a gossipy friend and a tart sense of humor. Her scene kept getting longer and longer, and then I wrote her into the ending of ONE NIGHT IN LONDON during edits, and then it just seemed right that she get a whole story.
Miranda: I’m so glad you wrote it. I loved Margaret’s story, and enjoyed the Georgian setting so much.
Caroline: Thank you. Because she’s the aunt and not a young woman, her story had to take place much earlier: in 1771, to be precise. It worked out rather well, because the duke of the trilogy dies in the first chapter–but in 1771, he had just inherited his dukedom and was a man of 40. So I could write about the central figure of the trilogy directly in the novella, which was nice. In the books he’s already dead and I could only write about him through his sons’ eyes. Although, I have to admit, writing about him made me somewhat sorry for the sad life I gave him, and I feel even worse when people who’ve read I LOVE THE EARL write to ask if Francis will get his own happily-ever-after story (no, he doesn’t).
Miranda: The de Lacey family series [The Truth About the Duke] has a fascinating premise. What’s it like writing a mystery that only gets resolved after three books?
Caroline: In some respects it’s been very hard; I’ve written suspense and mystery plots before but they were always wrapped up in one book. The temptation to give away the secrets has been overwhelming at moments, and I had to do some very careful read-throughs to make sure I kept information hidden until the proper moment… In other ways it was better, because I really didn’t know how the overall mystery was going to unravel when I wrote the synopsis and first book. In fact, my editor said my explanation for the mystery sounded “shaky.” She’s normally very tactful, so I think this was an expression of complete dread that I had no idea what I was doing. But I assured her it was OK, I didn’t mean anything I wrote in that synopsis anyway, and the books would be completely different. For some reason she fell for this excuse, and I was free to spend another six months coming up with a good solution to the problem. Well, I hope it’s good, anyway!
Miranda: Can’t wait to find out what happens, and to see more of Edward’s two yummy brothers, Charlie and Gerard. Who’s up next? And how long do we have to wait?
Caroline: Gerard is up next, in March 2012–only a little over four months away. It actually takes place at the exact same time as ONE NIGHT IN LONDON, but it’s set in Bath, which is the most beautiful town. When I visited Bath last year, I decided then and there to set a book in the town just so I could buy every photo and book in sight as a legitimate research exercise. Then Charlie, the oldest brother, comes last, in September 2012. His is the book I’m working on right now, and it’s SO NICE to be able to spill the secrets at last! I wrote out all the blackmail letters, the duke’s last confession, everything involved in the mystery. They won’t all be in the book, of course; maybe I’ll post them on my website. There’s a page on my website dedicated to this trilogy, including extras like a family tree, and I plan to keep adding to it.
Miranda: I bet you did a brilliant job with the mystery. I can’t wait to read all the books and find out.
The Foundling Hospital will be hard to beat, but Caroline and I would like to know what’s the most fabulous or unusual wedding locale you’ve every attended. Two lucky commenters will receive copies of the print edition of Caroline’s novella I LOVE THE EARL. It’s a great story and not easy to find if you aren’t an ebook reader. Even if you are, this a collectible, folks!