Diane Talks about The Vanishing Viscountesss

Today the Risky Regencies interview one of their own. Diane has a new release, The Vanishing Viscountess, out this month in North America from Harlequin Historical and the UK from Mills & Boon.

Diane will randomly select one lucky commenter to receive a special prize–the Mills & Boon version of The Vanishing Viscountess. Mills & Boon selected The Vanishing Viscountess to be a special release celebrating the 100th birthday of Mills & Boon. This edition has a gold embossed cover, special interview features, and a bonus book—The Mysterious Miss M

The Vanishing Viscountess truly is a beautiful love story. Filled with danger, passion and love. Immediately one is swept away in this exciting road adventure.–MP, Barnes & Noble reader review

1. Diane, welcome to the Risky Regencies interview. Tell us about The Vanishing Viscountess

First of all, thank you so much for having me at your wonderful Risky Regencies blog. I feel right at home here! But let me talk about my book.

The Vanishing Viscountess is the Marquess of Tannerton’s story. Remember Tanner from Innocence and Impropriety? While writing I&I, I made a deal with him. If he stopped trying to take over Flynn and Rose’s story, I’d write him a story of his own. I got back at him, though. In Innocence & Impropriety, Tanner depended upon his money, title, and connections to solve all his problems. In his own story, I stripped him of all those trappings and made him survive using his wits and resourcefulness.

I gave Tanner a damsel in distress, a fugitive from the law, the Vanishing Viscountess, Marlena Parronley, unjustly accused of murder and on the run. Tanner rescues her from a shipwreck and insists upon escorting her to safety in Scotland, even though he has very little money and must pretend not to be a marquis. Tanner and Marlena must travel across Great Britain from the Anglesey coast to Edinburgh, Scotland without Tanner’s use of his title, his connections, or his wealth.

And, of course, danger pursues them the whole way.

2. How did you get the idea for this story?

Besides from Tanner himself, whose character was imbedded in my mind, I’d been fascinated by news accounts of real shipwrecks that I’d read in my Annual Registers, a set of books of the time period that are a little like almanacs (I own 1810 to 1820, but they are in terrible shape). The Annual Registers contain summaries of the proceedings of parliament, lists of marriages and births of peers, and month-by-month selection of news stories of the previous year. (You can find an online copy of The Annual Register of 1814 here ).

Sadly in all of the accounts I’ve read of shipwrecks around the English coast, all the women and children died.

I like to start my books with something exciting if I can and a shipwreck seemed to fit the bill. From Tanner and a shipwreck the rest of the story just grew.

3. What was risky about this story?

This was my first “Road Story” plot. When I conceived the idea for Tanner’s story, I didn’t realize I was writing a Road Story. It meant I had to research many settings, not just one, because the characters travel to a different place almost every day. I also had to come up with a believable route and find realistic places the characters could stop. I had to make certain that I described the terrain in a realistic way. I used Google Maps and Google Earth to help me. I wrote about this for the January 2008 RT. You can also read more about it and find my Google Map on my website here.

Another thing that I think was risky was that my heroine, Marlena, withholds information from Tanner, even as they become lovers. I hope that I gave her sufficient motivation for virtually lying to Tanner. I’ll have to see what readers think.

4. You always tell us that you write about the Regency Underworld, the seamy side of the Regency. How was The Vanishing Viscountess the seamy side when your hero is a Marquis and your heroine a Viscountess?

It is always a challenge to me to include a “Regency Underworld” element to my stories. In The Vanishing Viscountess, I tried to put Tanner and Marlena in situations lords and ladies do not usually face, like surviving a shipwreck, being the victims of wreckers, traveling as ordinary people, having to buy and wear ordinary clothes. I also give readers a glimpse of the seamier side of being a servant in the backstory of the secondary heroine, Fia, who has been coerced into her employer’s bed.

5. What’s next?
My next book is Scandalizing the Ton, scheduled for release in October 2008.

It is my Regency Paparazzi story! I got to wondering what it would be like for a Regency lady to be hounded by the press, like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Paris Hilton are today. And what if the Regency lady became pregnant and no one knew who the father of the baby was, like poor Anna Nicole Smith? My heroine, though, has done nothing to bring this media attention onto herself. She only had one brief moment of indiscretion.

Readers briefly met the hero of Scandalizing the Ton in Innocence and Impropriety and he is mentioned in The Vanishing Viscountess. The hero is Tanner’s friend Adrian Pomroy, now Viscount Cavanley, and even he does not know who the father of the baby is….

I couldn’t put it down. What a story! It grabs you and doesn’t let go. Emotion, love, danger, sensual beautiful love scenes, and realism to the max… who could ask for more? A super-keeper of a book. This is one of Diane’s best, and I’ve read all of them!–MK, Barnes & Noble reader review

I hope you all will put The Vanishing Viscountess on the top of your TBR piles and make it a New Year’s resolution to read it. Be sure to let me know what you think of it.


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14 years ago

Hi Diane!
Congratulations on the new book. Your story sounds great but it sounds like a big story. Was it difficult to keep it in the allotted amount of pages?

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Hi, Maureen!
My problem is never keeping in the alotted number of pages. I always worry about making it to the page count I need. I always do make it and sometimes I go over a bit, but not too much to worry the editors.

14 years ago

Did I tell you I finally ordered this book from Harlequin and got it the other day but am soooo happy to have put it on the top of my tittering TBR pile.

I am a BIG fan of secondary characters getting their own story and can’t wait for Pomroy’s story, too.

Which brings me to my next question. Will you be resurrecting any of the characters from the books you wrote as Diane Perkins. I’d love to see that happen.

I just love the way you craft a story and bring to life characters I truly care to see living their HEA. I hope that in my own writing I can create those kinds of characters.

Kimberly L
14 years ago

Hi Diane and Happy New Year!
Congratulations on the new book. THe excerpt sounds great. I can’t wait to read it. I also like reading books where you get to read about characters other than the hero and heroine.

14 years ago

Great interview, Divine Ms. G! Of course I have already told you I LOVED The Vanishing Viscountess. I was always a little partial to Tanner! I loved the fact that you stripped him of everything and made him survive by his wits. The other thing that touched me was the fact he thought he was essentially a useless bit of fluff and yet his every action disproved that when the occasion arose. And it was a great road story! I love the old Hollywood road movies like The Road to Morocco, etc. Reminded me of those. How hard is it to find information about the terrain, the weather, etc from a time so long ago? What sort of resources are out there for that kind of research. Your stories are fabulous, but it is the little details that grab me.

14 years ago

Wonderful interview. Does it happen often that the secondary characters take on more of a presence than you originally planned or had you already planned on using them for future stories? I guess I mean how many stories are you plotting for the future at a time?

Deb Marlowe
14 years ago

Hi Diane!

I love a road story! It’s always fun to read a character taken out of their element and forced to deal with hardships and new scenarios.

I’ve got the Vanishing Viscountess, can’t wait to get started!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Aw, gee, Ladies. You make me feel GOOD! (We were just at a local Northern Virginia Borders and The Vanishing Viscountess was there!)

Santa, I am so pleased that you put TVV on the TOP of your TBR pile. And thank you for that lovely compliment about my writing.
About my Perkins characters. I assume you mean Blake and Wolfe (Spence’s friends from The Marriage Bargain), who are floating in story limbo waiting for life. Unfortunately, there is no sign of them getting in print yet, but I, too, would love for it to happen.

O Divine Doggy One! Thank you for those nice words about Tanner. As for the research, I couldn’t begin to figure out the terrain in 1818, so I just looked at modern photos of the areas in the autumn. I did have (thanks to my friend Delle Jacobs) the coaching routes from Birmingham to Edinbugh, so I could look up the routes on Google Maps or Google Earth. Then I chose places just a little way off the coaching route for Tanner and Marlena to stay in. But the UK is a funny place, because there are rivers with the same name in different places and it took me ages and ages to figure that out! It was fun taking the virtual journey with Tanner and Marlena.

Kimberly, in The Vanishing Viscountess, there is a subplot about secondary characters and a secondary romance as well.

Michelle, I knew from Chapter one of Innocence and Impropriety that I would have to write Tanner’s story, but I really did not plan a story for Adrian Pomroy, Tanner’s friend.

Usually at the end of a book when I have to write another one, the minor characters from the previous book raise their hands and volunteer!

Hi, Deb (Everybody, Deb’s debut book is out NEXT month – Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss –it has a sexy cover!! Mmmmm)
I like Road Stories, too. I just didn’t realize the extra work involved. It was fun, though, to map out their route and make it all work out. Like putting together a puzzle.

Deb Marlowe
14 years ago


I meant to ask you earlier, but got distracted by the young hoodlums…

Do you have Cary’s 1794 Atlas? It covers all of Great Britain and is amazing in its detail. I have it on CD. It can be a little challenging to use, but comes in so handy when your characters are traveling.

I used it extensively in my second book, when my characters were forced to travel. I printed out a detailed map of their route. Then the powers that be asked me to change locations and I used it all over again! 🙂


Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Do you have Cary’s 1794 Atlas? It covers all of Great Britain and is amazing in its detail. I have it on CD

No!!! I don’t have this…and of course I want it. How do I get it?

14 years ago

Huge congratulations, Diane!

Your pitch perfect period dialogue pulls me in and doesn’t let me go. Looking forward to this one.

I, too, would like to know more about Spence’s friends.

And Santa, now I am SO curious as to the conversational gems that would be emanating from a tittering pile of books. Your typo made my Sunday!

14 years ago

I love the sound of this story… and the next one… wow… it sounds like something new and refreshing… can’t wait!

And like Santa, I’m a huge fan of secondary characters, they tend (for me) to add depth to a story, and keep you really wanting more, and on tenterhooks for that next book 😀

What do you have planned after your October release?

14 years ago

Hi and welcome Diane; I would love to get to know Tanner and Marlena better. Great reviews for the book.

Gillian Layne
14 years ago

Great interview!

I loved your excerpt; if you wanted the beginning of this book to be exciting and compelling you succeeded! I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

Diane, did you know there’s a 1790 map of England and Wales available on Google Earth? On the “Layers” menu on the bottom left side of the screen, one of the subfolders of the primary database is “Gallery.” Click on it so you can view its subfolders and then scroll down to “Rumsey Historical Maps.” Open that folder and scroll down to “England, Wales 1790.”

I’m using it a lot for my alternate history–I toggle between the historical map and the normal view to check terrain. I’ll need to invest in the 1794 map, too, though, since the sequel I’m planning is set mostly in Scotland.

I’m looking forward to The Vanishing Viscountess! My B&N order including it shipped on Friday, so I should have it sometime this week.

14 years ago

Diane, I searched madly for TVV and finally found it at a Wal-Mart in a neighboring town. It sits now TBR stack, tempting me to forget syllabi and lesson plans. I am eager to read Tanner’s story, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for Blake and Wolfe.

Tracey Devlyn
14 years ago

Hello, Diane, from your Dallas shuttle bus buddy!

I love the rapid pace road stories bring to a book. I haven’t tackled such a plot yet, but now, thanks to all the comments, I know how to go about the research. Congrats on your new release – can’t wait to read it.

BTW, I love the UK covers. Hope to see you in San Francisco!

14 years ago

Yay Diane! Great interview and congrats on your release. I’m still in raptures over it!! Love Tanner – and Marlena is the only woman I would give him up to. 🙂

Do you write linearly? Your characterization always has so much depth – can you switch to writing different POVs as seamlessly as your books make it appear?

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I’ve been out and you’ve all been in!
janegeorge, “pitch perfect dialogue?” That is a great compliment!
Susan, a 1790 map on Google Earth. I’m in raptures!

Tiffinac, after my October release I’m thinking of starting a new “series”. I’m in great danger of running out of Regency and into Victorian if I keep on connecting these books.

Gillian, what a nice thing to say about the beginning of The Vanishing Viscountess!

Janga, I’m so glad you found TVV. I must say I’m relieved whenever I find that a bookstore is carrying it.

tracey!!!! How good to hear from you. I love my HH covers! I think they are doing a spectacular job on all of the HH covers and they keep getting better. Deb Marlowe’s cover for her Feb book is to die for!

lindsey! do I write linearly? Yes. Very linearly. I could never write scenes out of sequence. I sometimes struggle with getting the POV deep enough, but the characters usually speak in their own voices in my head. (that makes me sound crazy….)

14 years ago

Hi Diane,
Where did you get the idea for “Scandalizing the Ton?”

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Hi, Jane.
The idea evolved for Scandalizing the Ton. I knew who I wanted for my hero and heroine and I fiddled around with plots that were not really working. Then my friend Julie suggested I do more with the scandal and the press and it was like a lightbulb went off. I’d been fascinated by the paparazzi’s attention to certain celebrities and to explore that issue in the Regency was the story I’d been searching for.

14 years ago

I’ve haunted my local Borders but they don’t have “The Vanishing Viscountess” on their shelves. I’m hoping it’s because they’re immediately snapped up. I’ve ordered a copy and am eagerly awaiting the call that it’s arrived. I love starting the new year with a good book!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Susan/dc, thank you for being so persistent in purchasing The Vanishing Viscountess!

14 years ago

I love seeing everyone doing whatever they have to do to get their copy of THE VANISHING VISCOUNTESS because it is really worth the effort, ladies. I cannot wait for the next one. The whole premise is so unique and has so many delicious possibilities. Deb thanks for the headsup on the Cary Atlas. I found a place online to buy the CD!

14 years ago

I’ve read the excerpt of THE VANISHING VISCOUNTESS on your website and I have to say: I realy realy liked it!!!
I’m going to try to get a copy too!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Susan W, I finally got the 1790 map to work on Google Earth and the clever thing is I can overlay Tanner and Marlena’s road trip on it!

I’m now off to look at the London map….

Eva S
14 years ago

Great interview! I’ve loved your other books and this one will find it’s way to my bookshelf, too.
Here’s another fan of secondary characters in new stories…

14 years ago

This books looks great… and the cover is hot for a regency!

14 years ago

Congarts on your book… I need to pick this!

Cara King
14 years ago

I do envy you those Annual Registers, Diane, no matter what their condition! 🙂

And looking forward to all the shipwreck details…that’ll be new to me!


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