Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Romance Week - Contemporary Romance - Interview with Lauren Willig

Today we have special guest Lauren Willig!

Lauren is the author of the Pink Carnation book series.  These are the adventures of intrigue and love!

Lauren's novels are a split between present day England and that of the past.  It's one of the many things I love about this series! You get the best of two genres - Contemporary and Historical.

The newest novel in the Pink Carnation series is the Orchid Affair - just released in January 2011.

And now - our interview!


1.      Of all the characters in the Pink Carnation series you've written, who is your favorite and why?

The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation ChristmasRight now, I’m very much taken with the leading man of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, an unlikely hero named Turnip Fitzhugh.  Turnip may not be overly endowed in the brain-box, but he has a heart of gold and an amusing way with a turn of phrase.  Unlike some of my other characters, like Lord Vaughn, who deal in double entendres and never say quite what they mean, you always know exactly where you stand with Turnip—unless he’s knocked you off your feet with his customary exuberance. 

Turnip would be an excellent hero to have around for Valentine’s Day.  He’s the sort to show up at the door staggering under the weight of a huge bouquet and the biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates he could find. 

What was your inspiration for the Pink Carnation series book titles? 

The Secret History of the Pink CarnationDeep dark secret: the original title of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was A Rogue of One’s Own, partly because I had a long-running joke with my best friend about Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (what’s not to laugh about?) and an equally long-running joke about it being a rule of nature that any Regency-set novel must have “rake” or “rogue” in the title.  Since I didn’t want to get dragged into pointless discussions about garden implements, I went with the rogue.  But when the book was purchased by my publisher, my editor asked if I couldn’t get the Pink Carnation into the title somehow.  At the time, I was re-reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, so I blurted out, “Secret History of the Pink Carnation?”  And there it was. 

Originally, my publisher wanted to have “Pink Carnation” in all the titles, but when we got to Book Two (working title: The Rogue Next Door), after a couple of hours of my giggling myself silly over The Revenge of the Pink Carnation!  The Pink Carnation Returns!  Pink Carnation II: The Quest for More Rogues and the memorable Flowers, Flowers Everywhere, But Not A Spy to Sink (this was my 1L year of law school—I was a little slap-happy), we agreed that maybe we ought to branch out a bit and look into using different flower names for each book.  That book became The Masque of the Black Tulip

We revisited the question with the third book, which is set in Ireland.  For some reason, though, my publisher wasn’t so into my title idea, How The Pink Carnation Stole Me Lucky Charms.  Instead, we went with The Deception of the Emerald Ring.  Since then, it’s been all flowers all the time.
 Outside of writing what do you like to do? Do you knit? Craft?

My craft of choice is needlepoint, the more baroque the better.  In college, I used to sit for hours, listening to music, daydreaming, chatting on the phone, and stitching away at vast canvases featuring women in wide, hooped skirts pursued by gallants in periwigs and knee breeches.  It has the advantage of occupying the fingers while requiring very little thought, which makes it great for watching tv and still feeling industrious.  I’ve stitched my way through the Sean Bean Clarissa, infinite episodes of Mystery! and several rounds of the winter Olympics.

4.      Who is your absolute favourite romance author? What book by them would you suggest the we read?
Almost HeavenIt’s so hard picking favorites!  I have a bunch of different authors I turn to for different times and different moods.  I grew up on Judith McNaught (my two favorites were Almost Heaven and Double Standards, one Regency, the other contemporary) and I still go back to her when I need a healthy dose of idealism and pure emotional oomph.  No one does True Love quite like Judith McNaught.  More recently, I discovered Lisa Kleypas, and her Secrets of a Summer Night and Devil in Winter have also become standard re-reads for me.  For light and witty, I go to Julia Quinn and Jessica Benson (The Viscount Who Loved Me and The Accidental Duchess).  I’ve always been more of a historical reader, but recently I’ve discovered Susan Elizabeth Philips and Kristan Higgins and all of their books have become re-reads for me, especially SEP’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine and Higgins’ Just One of the Guys.

5.      Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
Pride And PrejudiceI’ve never been a huge fan of the love at first sight trope.  Since I’m far more verbal than visual, for me, attraction has always been about words.  Give me a witty line of banter, and I’m there.  I also have serious reservations about first impressions.  So often, we have to re-learn people, readjusting our initial impressions to allow for our growing understanding of them as we put together the bits and pieces to form a picture of the whole person.  Just think about Elizabeth Bennett—if she’d gone on first impressions alone, she would have wound up with Wickham and Pride and Prejudice (originally titled “First Impressions”!) would never have served as a vehicle for Colin Firth.  But I digress. 

I believe that everyone’s love story is different and that people fall in love in all sorts of ways.  For some people, it’s a coup de foudre, for others, it’s a gradual acculturation, and for some, it’s love at first sight.  Why do I think it’s possible?  Sometimes our subconscious minds are smarter than we are.  They put together all sorts of little clues that our conscious minds miss—clothing choices, laugh lines near the eyes, the set of the lips, a way of walking, a chance gesture, a scent—and process them before we’ve rationally made sense of them.  Sometimes, just sometimes, that all adds up to, “Hey!  This one!  I’ll take this one!”  And, if they’re really, really lucky, they’ll be proved right; everything else they learn about that person will enhance and underscore that initial attraction.

All that being said, love at first sight is one of my least favorite tropes, both in fiction and real life.  I think the factors that drive affection, real affection, the sort that last, go so much deeper than any visual impression.

Love at first quip, anyone?

What is your favourite part of Valentine's Day?  Do you have any special plans?

I am an absolute sucker for any themed holiday.  Chocolate covered orange marshmallow pumpkins for Halloween?  I’m there.  Pilgrim hats and cornucopias?  Yippee!  Red velvet covered boxes shaped like hearts?  Bring it on.  I am any merchandising executives dream customer.  I love all the Valentine’s Day traditions, the cheesier the better: the conversation hearts, the valentines, the defiant donning of the red sweater.  For a while, I even themed my Starbucks purchases, going for raspberry mochas on Valentine’s Day because they were sort of kind of pink, but when I discovered that sort of kind of pink raspberry mocha stains will not wash out of your favorite pink sweater, I reverted to the cinnamon dolce latte on the theory that it has cinnamon in it… and cinnamon is associated with red… and red is the color of love triumphant, so….  Yup.  I’m very good at the elaborate justification.  It’s why I choose careers where I get to play with words.

For this Valentine’s Day, I don’t know the details yet, but I can tell you I’ll definitely be wearing red.

Thank you Lauren for taking the time to chat with us!
For more on Lauren and her Pink Carnation series -


  1. I look forward to finishing this series... so far I've only read the Pink Carantion book.

  2. hahahahahahaha. "Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere but Not a Spy to Sink."

    I'd have bought it.

  3. "A Rogue of One’s Own" - love it! :D


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