GUEST BLOG: If You Give a Writer an Inspiration… by Shana GalenThursday, September 20, 2012 10:00
I’m one of those writers who answers, “Sears” when someone asks, “where do your ideas come from?” I honestly don’t know most of the time. Sure, there was the time I was watching the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith and got the idea for Lord and Lady Spy, but those bursts of inspiration are few and far between.
However, I am pleased to say that I do have an inspiration, other than Sears, for my new Jewels of the Ton series, the first book of which is When You Give a Duke a Diamond. I was actually researching female spies for Lord and Lady Spy when the idea occurred to me. I’ve written books about spies and pirates, and I wanted to write a book where I could write about some of the more glamorous aspects of the Regency period—balls, sumptuous gowns, evenings at the theater. I’d been reading a book by Jo Manning titled My Lady Scandalous. The book is a biography of sorts about a courtesan named Grace Dalrymple Elliott, who lived a bit before the Regency. She was a celebrated courtesan and also a spy for the English during the French Revolution.
The spy aspect of Manning’s novel made an appearance in Lord and Lady Spy, but the courtesan aspect I saved as fodder for my new Jewels series. You see, in my new trilogy, the heroines are all courtesans. But they aren’t just any courtesans. These women are diamonds of the first water. They are so popular and sought after, they’ve been given the collective title The Three Diamonds, and the Prince Regent gave them each a sobriquet.
In When You Give a Duke a Diamond, Juliette’s sobriquet is the Duchess of Dalliance. She’s known for her icy aloofness and pale beauty. Her friends see another side of her—a fun-loving, impulsive side. But Will, the sixth Duke of Pelham, only sees trouble. When their lives are entwined after the murder of Pelham’s fiancée, Will can hardly resist Juliette, but he must because the pairing of a courtesan and a duke is not acceptable.
And Juliette will not settle for anything less than love.
It was fascinating to read about the real lives of courtesans. They really were the celebrities of their day. They were written about in the gossip pages, they were watched and emulated, they were sought after by the prince himself. But their lives were not always glamorous. Their fame could be fleeting and their position precarious. They had to be wise with money or when they lost a protector to a younger, prettier courtesan, they might find themselves out on the streets. It was a dangerous, heady existence to be sure. And it was the perfect setting for my adventurous Jewels of the Ton series.
Do you ever read gossip magazines, like those in the checkout stands at grocery stores? Are we any less obsessed with celebrity today than we were 200 years ago?
[Ed. We have one copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond to give away. Leave Shana a meaningful question or comment to be entered! U.S. and Canada only, please.]