Cherished Books Etc

I love starting a new year with good news! I found out my second series writing as Laurel McKee has been accepted, so happy early birthday to me. (My b-day is this Saturday, and I will probably spend most of it working on the Mary Queen of Scots WIP, which is moving slowly along. But if anyone wants to drop by and have a glass of champagne, I could be distracted!). The new series is Victorian-set, 1840s and ’50s (a new time period for me!), centering around a scandalous family of actors, gamblers, and all-around rogues, scoundrels, and charmers (even the women!). I am very excited about it.

I also found a fun book on my weekly trip to the library, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book. I love the “writers talking about favorite books” genre, because I often find new books I never came across before (like in this one–one author mentioned Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art). But mostly I love them because they give me such a sense of–well, of belonging. Of being part of the Tribe of Readers.

This is also the #1 most fun thing about writing–connecting with like-minded people and finding true friends. (Well, that and watching North & South over and over and calling it research work). When I was a child and a teenager, I was sometimes considered rather odd because I read so much and was so daydream-y all the time. I would just as soon read in the library (or on my closet floor or in the hammock) as do anything else, and most of my friends were either theater geeks or closet romance novel junkies like me. (We would sneak out to the parking lot to illicitly trade Johanna Lindsey and Virginia Henley paperbacks at lunch time). Teenage dating was a disappointing thing, due to the complete lack of dark, sardonic dukes at my high school (thanks so much, Barbara Cartland!). But there was no Internet yet, and I had never heard of RWA, so had no way of discovering the fact that My People were out there. Now I do, and I’m grateful for that every day.

I was trying to think of what my ‘most cherished book’ would be, but I just can’t narrow it down. I remember the first book I read all by myself (Eloise in Paris), my first romance novel (Marion Chesney’s At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple, picked up at a garage sale because I liked the cover girl’s pink-striped dress. Little did I know I was about to fall into the Regency…). My first Austen (Emma), first Bronte sisters (Jane Eyre), the so-called “orphan porn” books I adored (Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and anything that featured a boarding school), stuff like I Capture the Castle, Gone With the Wind, the Sunfire YA romance series–they all changed my life. Every book I read changes my life in some way.

If my house was on fire and I could only grab one book, what would it be? After much careful consideration, I think it would be Janet Arnold’s Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, because 1) it’s an expensive book, hard to replace, and an invaluable research source, and 2) it was a a gift from a very dear friend who has since died. But I would mourn the loss of the other books, like that battered first paperback of Jane Eyre, a college copy of Middlemarch with all my underlinings and notes, an old book about Waterloo that was my grandfather’s (who never read a book that wasn’t about war or presidents!), Shakespeare’s sonnets given to me by an old boyfriend, the list goes on and on and on.

What is your most cherished book?? Do you have a favorite memory of books?

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11 years ago

I have several novels that I go back to time and time again. One of them I first read when I was 12. It’s called “A Break with Charity” by Ann Rinaldi. Since then I have read it every March (I’m now 31). Each time I read it, it seems new. I wonder if Jonathan and Susannah will get together each time. It gives me chills each time. I’ve already had the book rebound twice.

I also love the book “Seeing Me Naked” by Liza Palmer. I wrote Liza to tell her how it changed my life and she sent me an autographed copy, which means a great deal to me.

Then there’s my first Regency which was “The Purloined Papers” by Alison Lane.

But if there was a fire and I could only take one book I could take I think it would be my copy of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” illustrated by Kai Nielsen.


Jane Austen

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
11 years ago

congratulations Amanda/Laurel on your new series. It sounds fascinating. I absolutely adore the Victorian era, so I will be lining up to buy these books. My cherished books would probably have to include Anya Seton’s Green Darkness and Katherine.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Hooray for the new contract, Amanda/Laurel! I’m amazed at the fund of ideas and range of time periods you have.

The first book that I “literally” fell in love with was Little Women, but even then I was disappointed that Jo did not wind up with Laurie.

What would I save in a fire? I’d probably carry out the plastic box containing my 1815 La Belle Assemblee and my Annual Registers from 1810-1820– and I might also grab my The Regency Companion. All of those books would be very difficult to replace.

Jane George
11 years ago

I just squeeed and the cat looked up. Your new series sounds fabulous!
BIG congrats.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

LOL, Jane! I might have squeeed a bit too. I’ve wanted to try a Victorian ever since I saw “Young Victoria” so am so excited to get started on this one. But first Mary Queen of Scots. 🙂

Beth Elliott
11 years ago

The idea of saving just one book makes me feel quite ill. But it would have to be ‘Kidnapped’,in a soft leather binding, 4″x6″ and inscribed to me by my father, when I was 10. It still says:adventure!!
Can I also grab my first Austen – Pride and Prejudice, as that is also an old, red leather-bound book I could never replace and it has those lovely illustrations.

Congratulations, Amanda, on your new series. I mentioned your Chase Muses books in a blog post about Mediterranean/ Ottoman settings. I think you started the trend there.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Congrats on the new series, Ammanda! That is awesome!

Oh, I could never choose just one book!

I guess my first edition Byron would have to be at the top of the list.

Then my copy of Black Beauty that my parents gave me when I was nine.

I’d probably burn up trying to get my bookshelf of autographed romance novels out of the house!

Oh, and my A to z of Regency London and my copy of The Regency Companion I acquired just before Christmas.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Louisa, congrats on finding a copy of The Regency Companion. I watch the prices for used copies of the book and am constantly amazed at how much people are asking for them!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

I still can’t believe I got my copy, O Divine One. I was cruising eBay one night and found a copy for auction. The bid was at 35 dollars. I just knew I’d never get it, but I entered a high bid of 50 dollars and promptly forgot about the auction. Imagine my surprise the next day when I got home from work and saw an e-mail saying I had won the auction! I have seen this book for sale for 200 to 500 dollars and I got mine for 50 dollars plus shipping! I am still amazed! And it is in pristine condition.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Louisa, that was an incredibly good price! I got mine for $40 at auction about 10 years ago, on a Thanksgiving Day when the auction ended at midnight. Last time I knew of someone buying a copy they paid $100!

11 years ago

I don’t think I have a most cherished book. I have a house full of wonderful old books over 100 years old that I would hate to see destroyed.

The BAMBI GOLDEN BOOK is the first I remember reading or having read to me – I was in the hospital to have my tonsils out and my dad read it to me.

My first romance was Julie Garwood’s THE PRIZE. It had a jeweled broach and scarf cover and I picked it up at a Salvation Army thrift store.

I love my copies of A. A. Milne’s NOW WE ARE SIX and WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG.

Congratulations and best of luck with your new series.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

“I mentioned your Chase Muses books in a blog post about Mediterranean/ Ottoman settings. I think you started the trend there.”

I hope you’re right, Beth! I LOVE that kind of setting

Keira Soleore
11 years ago

Congratulations, Ammanda, on your exciting new Victorian series. Is it with Avon? Under another new name?

If I had to take a single book and leave the house, it’d be Wee’s story that we printed up as a book to send to grandparents.

Is Eloise and her stories like Madeleine? I should look into these books.

Right now, we’re reading “Ballet Shoes” on your recommendation.

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