Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lauren Willig Q & A Part 2

Today I continue the discussion with Lauren about very important topics... such as Toby Stephens... you know once he's mentioned it's a serious thing indeed. As are panniers and knee breeches... now if we were to combine the two... I think we might be onto something!

Question: It's been hinted at that the Selwick's proclivity to spying didn't end with Richard. Will there ever be a book at successive spying generations like Baroness Orczy did with the Scarlet Pimpernel?

Answer: Selwicks would do rather nicely in the Great Game, don’t you? Or dashing about right around World War I. And while we’re at it, Mrs. Selwick-Alderly’s past could do with some looking into…. Right now, though, my plans lean more towards going backwards in time rather than moving forward. Time permitting, what I’d really love to do would be a series about the elder Uppingtons, set during their youth in the 1770’s. Think Amelia Peabody and Emerson, only in panniers and knee breeches. And nothing at all like them, character-wise. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best comparison, but you get the idea.

Question: What do you make of the split in the Colin/Eloise fanbase, where there are those who love them and those who hate them? (Personally I love them).

Answer: There was a while where I was very perturbed by it and considered cutting out the Colin and Eloise portions, or spinning them off into a series of their own. But, at this point, the Eloise and Colin action is, for me, so intertwined with the books that I decided I just had to go with my own instincts and keep them on board. I really enjoy having them to use as a foil for the historical story. Those who don’t like them can always just skip over their chapters. So everyone wins.

Question: Will Eloise finally write her dissertation by the end of series? Or do you think she might write a popular bestseller?

Answer: Poor Colin. His feelings would be so hurt if Eloise hit the New York Times list before him. I will say that I do have the feeling that Eloise is going to finish her dissertation (unlike her creator!), but other than that, my Eloise and Colin plans are very open-ended. Although I do have some ideas for them, I feel like I’m learning about them and their future as we go along. Rather like real life….

Question: The author Philippa Gregory has been known to say that she doesn't read any other historical fiction, feeling that it would taint or influence her writing if she were to decide to visit that time period in future novels, but you seem to read a lot of books, in and out of your genre. Do you view your approach works better for you then if you were to live in a bubble?

Answer: Eeek. I can’t imagine writing in a bubble. So much of what I do is in dialogue with both those authors who came before me and those who are writing contemporaneously with me. No matter what, my voice is my own, but I feel like my books are the better for being informed by what others have written and are writing.

Question: What reading recommendations would you give to those who love the India of your book?

Answer: For me, the seminal India novels have always been M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon. They were the novels that first introduced me to colonial India, followed by Valerie Fitzgerald’s Zemindar and Katherine Gordon’s Peacock Quartet. The only caveat is that all of those books are set a good fifty years later than Blood Lily, and, as I discovered during my research, there’s a world of difference between India in 1804 and India in 1857. For those who love the India of my book, I’d recommend William Dalrymple’s White Mughuls. It may be non-fiction, but it presents a vivid and detailed vision of that earlier India.

Further reading:
– Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe’s Triumph (1803)
– Thalassa Ali, A Singular Hostage (1838)
– George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman (1839)
– George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman in the Great Game (1857)
– M.M. Kaye, Shadow of the Moon (1857)
– Valerie Fitzgerald, Zemindar (1857)
– Meredith Duran, Duke of Shadows (1857)
– Katherine Gordon, The Peacock Quartet (1857)
– M.M. Kaye, The Far Pavilions (late 19th C)
– E.M. Forster, A Passage to India (1920’s)
– Barbara Cleverly, The Last Kashmiri Rose, et al (mystery, 1920’s)
– M.M. Kaye, Death in Kashmir (mystery, 1940’s)
– Paul Scott, The Jewel in the Crown (1940’s)

Question: You have such a strong fan base and make yourself available to fans via you website. While there is the uncertainty of the future of publishing due to the rise of technology, which in itself is a topic for long discourse, how do you feel about the fact that technology is making contact between writers and fans easier than ever before?

Answer: I have very mixed feelings about the internet. On the one hand, it’s an amazing privilege getting to hear from fans, and to have real back and forth about the characters and plots. Trust me, it’s rare to find that many people in one’s daily life willing to indulge one in going on about the characters and the stories. These interactions have enriched the books and provided me with hours of happy warm and fuzzy feelings. Not to mention that I get great book recs from readers. After all, if they like my books, they clearly have good taste, and therefore I know that I’m going to like the other authors they read. It’s very convenient.

On the other hand, on a more meta level, all of the internet promotion that writers are now expected to do—the blogs, the interviews, the constant commenting— takes a good deal of time away from the actual writing. I also worry sometimes that too much exposure to an author might impact how one experiences her books. I wouldn’t want someone’s impressions of me to affect how she views my characters.

But am I willing to give up all this communication technology because of those scruples? Hell, no. I have too much fun with the News posts and the book recs and the Facebook feed. Like everything else, technology is a trade-off, some good, some bad. And I guess we’ll just have to see how it all plays out….

Question: What with teaching at Yale and your writing commitments, will you be going on any extended tour to promote The Betrayal of the Blood Lily?

Answer: Ah, the extended author tour: ten cities in ten days, veins running coffee, runs in my last pair of stockings. I have many fond memories. Sadly, with the rise of the internet and the decline of the economy, big author tours have pretty much fallen out of favor with publishers, since they’re expensive and so much can be done on-line these days. Between that, my teaching commitments, and my Pink VII deadline, I’m staying fairly close to home this year. I’m giving two readings in my hometown of New York, one in New Haven, and one in Scottsdale, Arizona. I might also make informal visits to D.C. and Boston, but that’s all that’s on the table right now. Which is a pity, since—all coffee aside—I genuinely do get a huge rush out of an author tour. It combines two of my favorite things: hamming it up at a podium and meeting readers.

Question: Now, I swear I didn't write this question, even though it's exactly what I was thinking: Will you ever come visit awesome library groups in Wisconsin? Or Wisconsin at all... there is the willingness to drive?

Answer:I would love to! Twist my arm?

Question: Finally, a few silly questions... If you could choose any English Estate to live in where would you set up house? Chatsworth? Blenheim?

Answer: Oh, goodness, how to choose? For some reason, even though I used Blenheim as a model for Girdings House, it’s never quite done it for me. Castle Howard rises quickly to the tongue, but I don’t know if I want to be all the way out in Yorkshire. All those moors…. So I think I’ll go with Longleat, in Wiltshire. Among other things, it’s so nicely convenient to Bath.

Question: Seeing as I've been doing my dream casting for your books the past few weeks, is there any adaptation that you thought the actor was exactly as you pictured them? Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? Or perhaps Anthony Andrews as the Scarlet Pimpernel?

Answer: Thank you so much for the dream casting! As you may have noticed, I am dreadful at the whole actor game. I can never remember actors’ names, so it’s always, “Oh, wait, that guy—no, the other one”, by which point people usually get bored and wander away. So I very much appreciate your generously sharing your cinematic repertoire.

In my opinion, the hands-down best casting over the past couple of years has been Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson as Rochester and Jane in the BBC Jane Eyre. Both epitomized my image of those characters. It’s rare to get a dual bulls-eye like that.

Thank you so much, Miss Eliza, not only for all the casting, but for having me over to your site today! It’s been a pleasure.

And I have to honestly say it's been a pleasure for Lauren to be here as well! So generous of her to take the time to answer all my questions, even the slightly silly ones. But more importantly, and I hope you all agree, it's wonderful to admire a piece of literature and to find out that the author is just as interesting and funny and thoughtful as you'd imagined them to be. So I hope you have a little more insight into a favorite author of yours, or, if you've never heard of Lauren, or have, but not picked up one of her books, I hope this inspires you to strut over to the fiction section, work your way to the end of the alphabet, she's there right after Waugh and Wharton!


another great interview! Thanks :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks to you both for a great interview! I can't wait to get my hands on Blood Lily!

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