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clarepayton
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Questions for the author

This area is devoted to asking our author specific questions about her background and her experience as a writer.

Lauren, ziki started us off by asking you the following questions elsewhere, but I thought we'd set aside a special section to answer them here:

"What was most difficult for you while working with this book?
Can you think of picking up another genre, too, in the future or do you feel this is 'your home'?"
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SaraleeE
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Re: Questions for the author

How do you do it all? You know: working, writing, eating, sleeping, that stuff. Are you, like, very organized?

When do you write? Do you just sit down whenever you have a spare minute and "fall down the well," as Julia Cameron descibes it, or do you need a block of time to work in?





Saralee
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Pink IV

Are you allowed to divulge the topic of Pink IV? Any hints? Will there be more adventures with Jane vs. the Black Tulip? (Those are from my sister-in-law who is Internet-less right now :smileysad: )

But a question from me...are you planning a book that brings together Richard, Amy, Miles, Hen, Geoff and Letty to work with Jane in untangling some plot? I'd love to see how Miles and Richard work out their differences.
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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structure

Lauren, were you inspired by Byatt's Possession when you choosed the structure modern-history?

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780679735908&itm=1

ziki
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LaurenWillig
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Re: Questions for the author

Hi, Ziki! I'll start with the second question, because that's the easier to answer. The answer is a resounding yes. The first book I ever wrote (at the grand old age of nine) was a mystery novel. In fact, when I sat down to begin "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation", it was a toss up between that and writing a mystery set at Yale. I've also always yearned to write grand sweeping historical novels of "The Gone With the Wind" persuasion, and light, witty social satires of my native New York in the tradition of Nancy Mitford's clever spoofs of London society in the 1930's and 40's.

Moving back to "Emerald Ring," my biggest difficulty in writing this book was getting a firm handle on Letty's and Geoff's characters. I had previously dealt with Geoff as a side character, and he was wonderfully easy to write in that role; he was always standing slightly off to one side, ready with a quietly sarcastic remark or an astute observation. As a main character, however, those same qualities of reserve that made him such an ideal character made it very hard to get into his head. As for Letty, she's certainly not reserved, but it's in her nature to be straightforward rather than introspective. She's the sort who's used to doing rather than musing, so I found it initially difficult to develop a convincing voice for her. In the end, though, because of those very difficulties, working with Letty and Geoff felt more rewarding than my more readily accessible characters in the earlier books.

Thanks for the great questions!

Lauren




clarepayton wrote:
Lauren, ziki started us off by asking you the following questions elsewhere, but I thought we'd set aside a special section to answer them here:

"What was most difficult for you while working with this book?
Can you think of picking up another genre, too, in the future or do you feel this is 'your home'?"


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LaurenWillig
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Re: Questions for the author

Hi, SaraLee!

Thanks for the great questions!

I am horribly, horribly disorganized. I'm constantly making To Do lists, but then never actually doing any of the things on them-- or writing down things I've already done, just for the sake of crossing them off. Somehow, I don't think that quite counts. Basically, I'm a sprinter. Most of my work, in any context, gets done in intense fits of activity, surrounded by oceans of procrastination. In college, my wonderful roommate and I solemnly agreed that all that procrastination was clearly just our subconscious minds at work, and wasn't it most sensible just to go with it? Ah, the joys of the path of least resistance.

Every couple of weeks, I'll come up with a New Plan For More Efficient Writing, like writing in the mornings... or writing in the evenings... or writing while in the elevator.... Needless to say, none of these has been a grand success. Because of my school schedule and now my job, most of my writing has gotten done in fits and starts on weekends and holidays, although I always carry a little notebook around in case inspiration hits. This has led to some odd scenarios, like spending half an hour poised on a traffic island in the middle of Massachusetts Ave on the way to the grocery store, desperately scribbling down a whole scene before it could get away.

As for the rest, the sleeping, eating and all that, it's things like housework that really suffer. If ever I disappear, it will be because the anthropomorphic dustbunnies that have been congregating in the corners of my living room finally went feral and devoured me. Dangerous things, dustbunnies....

Lauren



SaraleeE wrote:
How do you do it all? You know: working, writing, eating, sleeping, that stuff. Are you, like, very organized?

When do you write? Do you just sit down whenever you have a spare minute and "fall down the well," as Julia Cameron descibes it, or do you need a block of time to work in?





Saralee


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SaraleeE
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Re: Questions for the author

"If ever I disappear, it will be because the anthropomorphic dustbunnies that have been congregating in the corners of my living room finally went feral and devoured me. Dangerous things, dustbunnies..."


Tee hee. Carried away by dustbunnies.
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dust bunnies

Hi Lauren,
thanks a lot for your willingness to share. When you tell how you write I admire you.
Look at what you accomplished with your'chaotic style'! Life would be sooo easy if you could sit down in the morning at you beautifully organized desk, wouldn't it? Dog at your feet, lillies in the vase, warm coffee, some scones, great view, all that. But maybe nothing would get written.

I wanted to share a secret about dustbunnies: They are pretty harmless, if you do not disturb them, they do not disturb you. Pretty simple treatment. And one nice sweep day they are all gone at once. Not to worry.

:-)
ziki
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Questions for the author

[ Edited ]
Lauren,

I continue asking you questions if that is OK with you....

Q1:

I read the BN interview where you also mention your first experience of writing a book:

"I bundled off all two hundred hand-written pages to Simon & Schuster, giddy with visions of being hailed as ‘Youngest Author Ever!' and invited to tea by the Queen. They sent it back. I was utterly crushed for at least a week."

Crushed, perhaps, but apparently the pull of becoming a writer was considerably stronger than the sting of rejection. In fact, Willig's first novel that would not be met with a rejection letter was actually written as a sort of treat.

----
I wonder what happened between that first book and your published debut book. I am thinking that after all there's a lot to writing a book well enough to have it accepted. What did you actually do?

How did you go about your writing in that "time gap"?

Q2: How come you decided to study law? Do you plan to keep on working with that or do you wish to become a full time writer?


Q3: You'll be thirty yo this year, right? Does that feel in any special way, like a limit of sorts or is it just a birthday one among many others?

BTW thanks for sharing about your favo books with BN. I was inspired by your list. See, I never liked history at school and so I am a bit surprised that I lately enjoy reading history fiction and books in that style.


ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 01-09-200711:32 PM

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clarepayton
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A Perfect Mess

This book is for you--and me!

A Perfect Mess
by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman
(Little, Brown)

They say that clutter is good, disorganization is better, and procrastination proves that the deep recesses of your brain are at work. Enjoy!
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Clare Payton, Moderator
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LaurenWillig
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Re: dust bunnies

Hi, Ziki!

I love your image of the magical writing room, with the flowers in the vase and warm scones nearby. Sadly, I've learned that scones go cold and flowers in vases tend to turn brown and start to smell funny (true but milding embarassing story-- I'm so bad about remembering to empty vases that at one point in college I had dead flowers on my mantelpiece from not one but two ex-boyfriends). Ah well.

Thanks for the dustbunny taming tips.... : )

Lauren




ziki wrote:
Hi Lauren,
thanks a lot for your willingness to share. When you tell how you write I admire you.
Look at what you accomplished with your'chaotic style'! Life would be sooo easy if you could sit down in the morning at you beautifully organized desk, wouldn't it? Dog at your feet, lillies in the vase, warm coffee, some scones, great view, all that. But maybe nothing would get written.

I wanted to share a secret about dustbunnies: They are pretty harmless, if you do not disturb them, they do not disturb you. Pretty simple treatment. And one nice sweep day they are all gone at once. Not to worry.

:-)
ziki


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LaurenWillig
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Re: A Perfect Mess

Ha! Vindication at last! Thanks, Clare : )



clarepayton wrote:
This book is for you--and me!

A Perfect Mess
by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman
(Little, Brown)

They say that clutter is good, disorganization is better, and procrastination proves that the deep recesses of your brain are at work. Enjoy!


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LaurenWillig
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Re: Pink IV

Hi, Melissa! Hello to you, and your poor internet-less sister-in-law. Please convey my sympathies to her. It's always maddening when the internet goes down. I like to think of myself as being entirely untechnological-- until my internet breaks down, at which point all my Luddite tendencies evaporate and I find myself on the phone to Bombay (or wherever the tech center is), desperately begging them to please, please, pretty please give me my technology back.

On Pink IV.... I'm working on that right now, so it's a topic particularly dear to my heart. It was originally supposed to be about Charlotte from "Black Tulip" (who i see as something of an alter-ego-- of all my characters, she's the one I've come closest to modelling on myself, or at least the self I was at eighteen), but I was fascinated by the dynamic between Mary and Letty in "Emerald Ring". I just couldn't get Mary out of my head. I'd already given my editor a synopsis of the Charlotte book, but after many sleepless nights with Mary talking at me, I finally broke down and called my editor and said, "Um, I've sort of had a different idea for Book IV...."

What makes it even more fun is that Mary's love interest is none other than the elusive Lord Vaughn. I think of them as my Scarlett and Rhett couple-- not because they're that much like either Scarlett or Rhett, but because what draws them together isn't so much their virtues as their vices. Of all my heroines, Mary has the most room for personal growth.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but I can say that Jane plays a key role, and the real identity of the Black Tulip just *might* possibly be revealed at long last....

Your question about Richard and Miles and the whole gaggle of past characters actually ties back in to Pink IV as well. The whole gang are in London for Pink IV, and Richard and Miles are finally flung together and forced to cope with (or at least begin to cope with) their differences.



pedsphleb wrote:
Are you allowed to divulge the topic of Pink IV? Any hints? Will there be more adventures with Jane vs. the Black Tulip? (Those are from my sister-in-law who is Internet-less right now :smileysad: )

But a question from me...are you planning a book that brings together Richard, Amy, Miles, Hen, Geoff and Letty to work with Jane in untangling some plot? I'd love to see how Miles and Richard work out their differences.


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Re: A Perfect Mess

I secretly harbor a deep mistrust of people who have very neat desks. If you are really in the weeds, really working your you-know-what off, your desk looks messy (though you know perfectly well what's going on).
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Re: characters with room for personal growth

I like your comment about Mary being your character with the most room for personal growth. I suppose that is what makes writing interesting--the exploration of a character and the illumination of the human condition. I am reminded of other writers who comment on how flawed their characters are, though they love them dearly.

Is this something that just happens for you, i.e. some characters come out more flawed than others? Or, do you purposely calculate this aspect of them?
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politikgirl
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Re: Pink IV

I am very excited about the next book, particularly now that I know that Mary and Lord Vaughn will be the main couple of the story!

Is there any chance of any of these books being turned into movies? Do you ever cast your characters in your head with actual real-life actors and actresses?
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SaraleeE
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Re: Pink IV

Aaaugh! Mary and Lord Vaughn?

And here I thought there was some sort of an attraction between Jane and Lord Vaughn! All those oblique remarks and the too-controlled behavior....

Ah, well. Now I'll just have to wait and see, won't I?

Saralee
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LaurenWillig
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Re: Pink IV

Hi, SaraLee!

You weren't misreading-- there were quite definitely sparks of some sort going on between Jane and Lord Vaughn. Watching Jane and Lord Vaughn play off one another was one of the unexpected pleasures of "Emerald Ring"; it hadn't been part of my original plans, so their rapport took me by surprise. I found the interplay between them all the more compelling because their understanding is based not on trust but on mutual mistrust. Part of their attraction comes from that very uncertainty. It was particularly interesting to me because-- as readers of the earlier books may have guessed-- I had originally intended Jane for Geoff, but when I threw them together at the end of "Pink Carnation," there were simply no sparks between them at all, and I was forced to abandon the idea. At the time, I wondered if it might simply be that Jane was too focused on her work to be aware of the opposite sex at all.

At the same time, though, it became clear that Jane and Vaughn were never going to move past that lightly charged hint of flirtation. As a couple, they would be pure disaster. There's a darkness to Vaughn's character that Jane would never quite grasp or condone (despite all her cleverness, and her very quickly acquired worldliness, she is just straight out of a sheltered girlhood in Shropshire), while much of Jane's own world view is premised on strong convictions about honor and loyalty that the more, er, flexible Vaughn would find fatuous and naive. Thinking through the difficulties of the Vaughn/Jane relationship actually helped me understand Jane a good deal better!

As a side note, this also leads nicely into an old debate with a friend of mine-- the question of whether there's one right person for everyone, or several pretty much right people, any one of whom could work. With Jane as a continuing character throughout the books, I've gotten to see her interact with several potential suitors, some of whom *could* have worked for her, had it been the right time, had she been so inclined, and so on. By the same token, Letty is quite blunt about not having ever expected a love match, and although I do think she and Geoff are the best of all possible couples, I could see her having been quite content with any number of unobjectionable men. On the other hand, with Richard and Amy or Hen and Miles, ir's very hard to imagine them with anyone else. What do you all think?




SaraleeE wrote:
Aaaugh! Mary and Lord Vaughn?

And here I thought there was some sort of an attraction between Jane and Lord Vaughn! All those oblique remarks and the too-controlled behavior....

Ah, well. Now I'll just have to wait and see, won't I?

Saralee


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LaurenWillig
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Re: Pink IV

Hi, Bryana!

I would love to see the books turned into movies! (If any producers happen to be listening...?). But I'm awful at identifying actors and actresses. The characters are very clear in my head, but they're-- well, themselves. Sometimes, I'll see a movie and think, "Hmm, he's sort of a Miles type," but it's a bit like comparing people you know to actors; there's always something slightly off about the comparison. For example, while I was working on "Black Tulip," I decided that the Brendan Fraser character in "The Mummy" had a Miles-esque boyishness to him-- but he didn't really look like Miles. The guy who played Tom Jones in the A&E mini-series looked more like my image of Miles-- but, still, not quite. Right now, I've been thinking a good deal about Lord Vaughn, because of Book IV, and I've decided that the actor who most reminds me of Vaughn is Sean Bean as the evil seducer Lovelace in the BBC version of "Clarissa"-- even though Bean is blond and Vaughn is dark and their features are nothing alike.... As you can see, I'm terrible at this!

But I love hearing other (more adept) peoples' opinions of who they would cast as my characters! Any thoughts?




politikgirl wrote:
I am very excited about the next book, particularly now that I know that Mary and Lord Vaughn will be the main couple of the story!

Is there any chance of any of these books being turned into movies? Do you ever cast your characters in your head with actual real-life actors and actresses?


Author
LaurenWillig
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎12-27-2006
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Re: Questions for the author

Hi, Ziki!

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to answer all of your great questions. First, though, I wanted to say how glad I am that you've found you like historical fiction despite not liking history in school. It's always amazing to me the way that textbooks manage to take time periods teeming with drama-- heavens, with dynastic marriages, court intrigue, and grand battles, there's very little fiction can add-- and turn them into dry husks. Sometimes I wonder whether, if I hadn't come across historical fiction so very young, I would have felt the same way about history at school. Having started with the historical fiction, the history lessons came to life, like reading about the doings of old friends. It's a pity we can't get more of that into the history lessons themselves-- or maybe the trick is just to get kids reading historical fiction younger!




ziki wrote:
Lauren,

BTW thanks for sharing about your favo books with BN. I was inspired by your list. See, I never liked history at school and so I am a bit surprised that I lately enjoy reading history fiction and books in that style.


ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 01-09-200711:32 PM




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