Thanks to the Riskies for having me today! I’m so excited to be here, and even more thrilled to be kicking off a three-day Welbourne Manor event!
In case there are any Riskies out there who might not know —The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is an anthology that Diane, Amanda and I wrote together. We were given free reign to come up with an idea or theme—which was exciting and a little daunting! We decided to meet for a plotting/planning weekend in Williamsburg and it was there, amidst the historical touring, shopping—and lunching—that the scandalous Fitzmannings were born.
We were inspired by the blended families of the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Bessborough and also the Elizabethan family of Lettice Deveraux, Countess of Essex that Amanda had been reading about. We were intrigued with the notion—What might happen if a Duke left his wife for his vivacious, married mistress, and lived happily with her for the rest of their days? Such a decision would have far reaching consequences for their children, both his, hers and theirs together—and we were off! The result is The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, which chronicles the story of the three daughters of this mixed family and their difficulties as they grow to a marriageable age.
Now that I’ve introduced you to our fascinating family, on to the interview questions!
Riskies: What did it mean to you to write an anthology with two friends?
It made the whole process so much easier and a lot of fun! We were comfortable bouncing ideas off of each other and not shy about saying what we thought would work and what might not. The three of us have been friends a long time and have a history of pulling for each other. Because there was already a foundation of trust and friendship, we were free to let loose and give our imaginations free reign. Plus, now we get to spend time doing promo together! We don’t have to worry if one of us writing the Sunday blog on Saturday—LOL! And we get to go to NYC for a weekend together at Book Expo America and go to the ballet and cocktail parties—What’s not to love?
Riskies: What was it like to write connected stories? What was the most difficult?
One of the best things about this anthology is how the stories are interconnected. We sent a lot of emails after that initial weekend and it was very easy to ask each other to include something that would spark an event or affect a character in one of the other stories. I truly think it adds to the richness of the world we have created.
One of the best things is that we have all had the opportunity to do additional, related projects. I’m sure you all know that Diane’s related Undone, The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, has been burning up the bestseller charts at eHarlequin! Also at eHarlequin, I have a free, online read taking place through the month of May. Journey to Welbourne Manor is the story of a distant relation, and provides a peek at the original scandal of the Duke of Manning and his married Countess.
The most difficult thing will be saying goodbye to this family and their world, but I have hope that Stephen and I will be spending a significant amount of time together soon!
Riskies: Tell us about Annalise and the Scandalous Rake.
Annalise is the most sensitive of the Fitzmanning sisters. She prefers the isolation of her studio to worrying about Society’s scorn. She is perfectly happy pouring her emotions into her painting—until Ned Milford is invited to a Welbourne house party. What no one knows is that Ned is also Prattle, a famous, and anonymous, caricaturist bent on exposing her family’s secrets. Many obstacles litter their path to love, including a pompous suitor, a slightly scandalous scavenger hunt and a devastating artistic duel. I truly loved the time I spent with Annalise and Ned—I hope readers will too!
Riskies: What was risky about your story?
I think the riskiest aspect was having a hero who is artistic. I know that my editor expressed the worry that an artist wouldn’t be masculine enough to appeal to readers, but I believe he turned out incredibly hunky and adorable!
Riskies: What’s next for you?
Coming in October I am very excited about the North American release of Her Cinderella Season! Jack Alden was the scholarly brother of Charles Alden, Viscount Dayle in my first release, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss. Jack also played a vital role in solving the mystery of the Pharoah’s Lost Jewel in An Improper Aristocrat. Now, at last, he has his own story!
He was somewhat shocked to find himself in the midst of an ancient mystery and a kidnapping plot in AIA. The experience shook him up—and shook loose a few demons, too. He’ll need the help of Lily Beecham to confront them. The daughter of Evangelical reformers, she’s determined to experience something of life at last—even if she has to drag Jack Alden along with her!
So, what do you think about The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor? Do you have any questions for Deb?
Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor! And come back tomorrow for Day Two and prize two.
*Deb’s author photo is by Trevor Borchelt of Borchelt Photography
I love your books and so I am definitely dying to read The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor.
How wonderful that 3 friends did this together. It makes for better stories for us readers. :)The commaderie will shine through.
I know I’ll love this too.
Thanks and have a great day Deb !
Your story sounds great. Was it difficult to fit everything in a short story?
Hi, Deb, I just wanted to say that I am very excited about this anthology. I like when anthologies have connected stories like this (Julia Quinn did something similar with the Lady Whistledown anthologies). Can’t wait to read it!
Hi Carol! Thank you so much! How nice to start the day with a lovely compliment and a happy little shiver!
I hope you will enjoy spending time with Justine, Annalise and Charlotte as much as we did. They really are such lovely girls.
Yes, this was my first anthology and it was a challenge to fit a complete romantic journey and resolution of sincere conflict and world building and everything else in a shorter format. But I worked hard on it and in the end I enjoyed the format and I was really happy with the result.
Diane and Amanda have more experience with anthologies, I’m sure they had an easier time!
Hi Margay! How nice to see you! Thank you for your excitement–it feeds ours! Hope you will love TDOWM.
Hi Deb, this really does sound like a fascinating story and an interesting concept for a trilogy. What a great title to pulle the whole thing together. Looking forward to reading it.
I haven’t read it yet, but am very much looking forward to it! It’s on my gift list for Mother’s day. And the display at Walmart was excellent–front and center! 🙂
Hi Deb, welcome to the Riskies. One question I have is how you managed the background details: for instance, did you base Welbourne Manor on a real place so you’d all be working from the same floor plan?
I can imagine all sorts of emails saying things like I changed the hair color of the coachman, sorry. Did that happen much?
I’m going to let you answer the questions!
Carol L, I think it is a good point that the camaraderie of friendship will show through the stories. It is certainly the way I felt writing my part.
And I have to say, my extensive experience with anthologies — one –did help a little.
This anthology sounds wonderful. I love when stories interconnect like this and I can’t wait to read it. The background of the story sounds unique and interesting and I’m glad it sounds like you had fun working on it!
Yes, isn’t the title wonderful? We also had a lot of emails with the historical team trying to nail one down, but I think they nailed it with TDOWM! And the cover is GORGEOUS!
Thanks for putting us on your Mother’s Day list! And I’m glad to hear about the Walmart display! Ours has a shelf-talker, talking about the Harlequin Historical special they are running this month.
Love the post and I’m so looking forward to reading the book!
Thanks for having me, Janet!
We did have a funny thing happen — In Amanda’s early incarnation of her story she needed one of the brothers to be superstitious. We decided it was Stephen and I actually worked his beliefs into my opening scenes. Later Amanda didn’t need that trait anymore, but it had already become part of who he was! We kept it and I think it is a large part of his charm.
LOL, Diane! Don’t kill my theory! I was hoping that if I ever got another chance to do an anthology, it would be a breeze! 🙂
Janet, Diane was wonderful about making stuff like family charts and plans! It was very helpful, especially for a pantser like me 🙂
I’m so glad you stopped by and we were able to entice you a little! I hope you enjoy TDOWM!
“if I ever got another chance to do an anthology, it would be a breeze!”
I’m tackling another novella right now, and have to say–the breezy thing isn’t happening yet 🙂
Hi Robin, my 007 sister! Thank you, I’m really looking forward to your second Domestic God too!
Oh, yes! Diane made an amazing family tree. I was hoping they would include it in the front of the book!
You should put it up on your website Diane!
Oh, no! Amanda–tell me it isn’t so!
I forgot about the family tree! I really should put it on the website.
Janet, one of the things I do to make myself think I’m writing when I’m really not, is search for things like settings, names, etc.
We needed Welbourne Manor to be near London so I ‘looked’ at Richmond and found Marble Hill House, a Palladian Villa on the Thames built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of George II. I even found a floor plan for Marble Hill House and lots of photos of the interior, so we could all ‘see’ where our Diamonds lived.
I think this is the right place to ask the question:
What does diamond of the first water really mean?
I know that water was involved in panning for gold in topside streams places like the Yukon and California, but diamonds are mined deep underground. Getting water involved would presumably drown the miners.
(no need to enter my name)
I like anthologies as well.
I’m excited to read The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. And I was super excited to see that it is available in a Kindle edition. I am a Kindle 2 addict. And this means I can buy it right now and read it in under a minute. Yay!
M asked: What does diamond of the first water really mean? From answerbank.co.uk
“The degree of brilliance in a diamond is called its ‘water’, so a ‘diamond of the first water’ is an exceptionally fine diamond, which has the greatest value for its size.”
In the Regency, then, a young woman who was a “Diamond of the First Water” was the most beautiful, most poised, most desirable.
Jane Austen, I have a Kindle 2 too and even bought my own book so I could have it on my Kindle.
LOVE my Kindle.
The anthology sounds so good that I have added it to my TBR list. Should be interesting to read how the stories are all connected.
JWIsley AT aol.com
Diane’s got your question covered, I’ll just add that to be labeled a Diamond of the First Water was one of the highest compliments a girl in society could receive.
I’m partial to Incomparable, too.
Hmm, wonder if I could get the dh to call me Incomparable instead of ‘honey?’ LOL!
It is wonderful that you, three friends, wrote the book together. 🙂
The story sounds really great. 🙂
Have a great day and take care!
Yes, Janet, Marble Hill House has a great site online. We just decided it needed to be a little bigger to house all of our unruly brood.
Hi Jane Austen!
Sigh. Now I have another reason to be wildly envious. Incomparable (see?) characters, the wittiest prose on the planet, and a Kindle 2, too?
Kindle envy. It’s an ugly thing!
Hi Joy! Great to see you!
Hi Milka! Thanks for stopping by today!
My real name is Rachel and I’m a librarian. I took the name of Jane Austen for a blog project for my master’s in library science. I have a Jane Austen blog http://janeaustenregrets.blogspot.com/
I actually dress up as Jane and visit high schools and try to get students interested in her work and the time period.
I do love my Kindle although I thought I’d hate the technology, but on the plus side if we all buy your book The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor and I at least buy your other books, which I have bookmarked on Amazon to do (for my Kindle of course) then maybe you can afford to buy a Kindle of your own!! Yay!
I’ll try to talk it up and get lots of people to buy it.
Hello, Ms Marlowe!
While I usually don’t care much for anthologies, I have been lucky with those that are written like this one, around not a general theme but following specific characters through the same ‘universe’, so to speak.
Here’s wishing you all great success with it!
Hi Rachel! It’s nice to meet the real you! I LOVE the idea for your masters project. I’ve got to get over and check out your blog.
I also love the teaching Jane Austen to kids project. I’m curious as to the reaction you get? I’d think that a lot of young girls would be interested. One of the best things about going to to see the Keira Knightly version of P&P was seeing all the teenagers in the audience. They were swooning and talking in excited, hushed teenage girl whispers as were leaving the theater. Yes!
I’m completely serious about the Kindle envy! My dh and I were talking about this a few weeks ago. I had to use the beta / VHS analogy to get him to understand where we have been in the ereader process. And with the Kindle’s popularity, I have to wonder if we are wrapping up the debate? The thought of any book you want, instantaneously available? Sigh. Heaven.
Hi azteclady! It’s nice to see you here! Thank you for the good wishes!
I deal mostly with seniors since in PA your senior year is when you learn about British authors. I’ve had a good response so far, but most of the girls are already fans. It might be nice to try to reach them when they’re younger, but so far I haven’t been asked to do younger groups.
really liking Anthologies; it is amazing how 3 authors can do this and it works out beautiful.
3 daughters from a mixed family and how events turn out sounds very intriquing to me; enough to want to read this book.
Deb, so glad you came by! I just got my copy of the Diamonds as well as Improper Aristocrat. I can’t wait to snag some time away from Frampton family duties and have a good read.
Rachel, where are you in PA? I grew up in the southwest corner. I credit my wonderful AP English teacher, Mrs. Diamond, with some of my best reads and the best understanding of them!
Hey robynl! Glad we could tempt you! I hope your enjoy our Fitzmanning girls!
Hey Megan! Thanks for having me at the Riskies! I hope I get to see you when we’re in NYC!
“I actually dress up as Jane and visit high schools and try to get students interested in her work and the time period.”
What a fabulous “job”! I remember when we read P&P my senior year in hs–I had already read it, as had most of the girls, but many of the boys were shocked at how much they enjoyed it. 🙂 It would be wonderful if we could find a way to reach them younger, maybe freshman year…
Deb, I had the same experience going to see the Knightley P&P! I loved seeing all the young girls so enthralled with the story, and then I read that many of them ran out and got the book after. Anything to get kids reading Austen, LOL
I just got off the phone with my mom. She called to say she just finished the anthology and wanted to know when she could read about the boys! 🙂
She had a question about the funeral, and I had to explain that in many cases, women in the Regency did not attend funerals. Fun history discussion with my mom! That doesn’t happen every day.
Hello, Yankee Lady !!
I LOVED The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor ! The Fitzmannings are now one of my very favorite Regency families! What I like the most is that they love each other, but they still have their problems and fights and difficulties. They were born into a tough situation and have pulled together to make the best of it.
I can’t WAIT to read the boys’ stories and any other stories you ladies weave from this great source!
You may have already answered this, but with more than one writer working with characters was it difficult to keep the characters “in character” from story to story? Was there a central character sketch you all worked from and how did you come up with it?
I live in NW PA. I did a Tea with Jane Austen for one of Pitt’s branch campuses and it sort of evolved from there. The talk is about Jane Austen and Regency times. I will say that some of the guys are interested, but pretend they’re not. They’re amazed at how women were treated…I do tell that if men got tired of their women they could tie a rope around their necks and sell them at market. The guys laugh and say they wish they could still do this, but I feel that on some level I’m reaching them and showing them how different life was. They are especially interested in the no hand holding, no notes/letters, no kisses or at least not getting caught doing any of these things or else face marriage.
It is a fun job. I enjoy it.
Rachel, can I continue to call you Jane Austen??? I love doing that! And you sorta are Jane Austen if you play her role in schools.
Okay, I’m going to be cheeky and ask any of you who have read The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor to feel free to post an Amazon review for us. We have one review there and I would love to have more opinions of the book posted.