Today, Miranda Neville has stopped by my place to talk about her exciting new book LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER. It’s a Regency period romance novel with elements of Regency period espionage and political issues.
LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER
The Wild Quartet #4
by Miranda Neville
Paperback/EBook Pages: 384
Hell hath no fury like a woman abandoned…
Damian, Earl of Windermere, rues the day he drunkenly gambled away his family’s estate and was forced into marriage to reclaim it. Now, after hiding out from his new bride for a year, Damian is finally called home, only to discover that his modest bride has become an alluring beauty—and rumor has it that she’s taken a lover. Damian vows to keep his wife from straying again, but to do so, he must seduce her—and protect his heart from falling for the wife he never knew he wanted.
Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal. But with her husband off gallivanting across Persia, what was a lady to do? Flirting shamelessly with his former best friend seemed like the perfect revenge…except no matter how little Damian deserves her loyalty, Cynthia can’t bring herself to be unfaithful. But now that the scoundrel has returned home, Cynthia isn’t about to forgive his absence so easily—even if his presence stirs something in her she’d long thought dead and buried. He might win her heart…if he can earn her forgiveness!
Miranda Neville grew up in England before moving to New York City to work in Sotheby’s rare books department. After many years as a journalist and editor she decided writing fiction was more fun. She lives in Vermont. For more about Miranda please visit her website www.mirandaneville.com.
There were two very exciting things for me as I read the book:
The Oscar Wilde connection. The series is the Wild(e) Quartet and originally each book had a Oscar Wilde inspired name. I had a personal attachment to this title. (see my review Saturday) and that women’s rights were, even then, being discussed; particularly equal pay. Amazing that is something we’re still working on.
ANOTHER Exciting thing is that HarperCollins/Avon will be sending one lucky reader a paperback copy of the book. The entry form is after the interview.
Of course, my place has adapted to become a Regency Period mansion with many servants! How else would I entertain a writer of Regency Romance Novels!
Welcome, Miranda Neville!
Hello, Miranda, welcome to my luxuriously appointed drawing room. Shall I ring for tea? Or would you prefer coffee? Wine, a martini? ((Pulls imaginary bell pull.))
Hi Stephanie. Thank you for inviting me to your elegant mansion. I’ll take coffee, or a cocktail if it’s not too much trouble.
No trouble at all, How about Coffee Martinis? Let’s combine the best of both. “Jeeves, A Pitcher of Espressotinis please and 2 glasses!” (aside, all butlers should be called Jeeves)
When I was in college, (back in the Regency Period) I had to do a soliloquy for theatre class and I chose LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN by Oscar Wilde (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/790). So when your publicist contacted me I was intrigued. Was that play your inspiration for the novel? And, if it was what appealed to you and why did you choose it for a starting point?
I’ve adored Oscar Wilde for years, ever since I read his volume of fairy tales, The Happy Prince, as a child. I’ve been known to sneak quotes from his plays into my books, but the only thing I stole for this one was the title. LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER is the third of four connected books. I pitched the series as The Wild(e) Quartet and the first book also had a Wilde-inspired title – THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED. For various marketing reasons the second book was changed from AND IDEAL SCOUNDREL to THE RUIN OF A ROGUE and the final one is to be called THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES.
Although not directly inspired by the play, Wilde is a huge influence. No one ever wrote wittier dialogue and I try (fruitlessly) to follow his example.
It seems as if you are talking about women’s rights and equal pay throughout. Have you written this theme/moral/political idea into stories before?
I quite often sneak social issues into my books, in a period-appropriate manner. In Confessions From an Arranged Marriage my heroine, Minerva, is obsessed by radical politics. She knows she will never be able to vote or hold office, and seeks to influence events through marriage. Cynthia in Lady Windermere’s Lover is more of a philanthropist than an activist. She sees how hard life is for women who aren’t born in good circumstances and uses her wealth to help them. The idea of equal pay for women was an idea knocking around in the early nineteenth century but no one took it very seriously.
I keep my romances light-hearted, for the most part, and naturally my heroes are all terrific guys. Still, I don’t see how we can write about women’s lives in the past without an underlying awareness of how limited their lives were and how dependent on the whims of men.
What about Spitalfields (an 18th and 19th century labor dispute and political response) caught your interest? Did you know about it or were you looking for a civil rights struggle in England during this period?
I started with a vague story idea and ended with a history. I wanted a London factory that made something fashion-related. I asked my friend and fellow writer Isobel Carr, who is an expert on historical costumes, and she suggested Spitalfields silk. I started reading up on the subject and the plot developed from there.
You have a lovely command of the vernacular of the period: “Cicisbeo.” For example. That’s going the extra mile for the story.(Cicisbeo: escort or lover of a married woman, esp in< 18th-century Italy)
Do you have a reason you do it?
Not really. I never use words I don’t know but I have a lot of weird vocabulary floating in my head. I check the Oxford English Dictionary and Google Books when I’m not sure if a word or phrase is anachronistic.
What is your favorite word or phrase from this book?
Thinking about it, I did a bit of research on eighteenth century Persia, whence my hero has recently returned, and learned the words Persian words for the game of polo and for harems. Here’s an abbreviated snippet of conversation between Damian and his ex-mistress.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “What seems exotic to us is normal to them. The game of Chowgan, for example, is no more or less thrilling than cricket is to us. It’s played on horseback with sticks to hit a ball. It’s very fine sport and demands a high degree of skill.”
“I’m always interested in sports that demand skill.” Her rich gardenia perfume tickled his nose as she leaned in to whisper. “Do the Persians not have seraglios, like the Turks?”
“Certainly. But male visitors, especially foreign ones, are not permitted to enter the zenanas. The women are well-guarded.”
“My poor Damian! Does that mean you have been alone for a full year?”
As a matter of fact it did. …. With some regret he pretended to turn his attention to the stage.
Belinda hadn’t given up. “Gentlemen talk. Even if you lacked the opportunity to play exotic sports, I’m sure you learned the rules.”
“As a matter of fact I did play Chowgan.”
“Damian,” she said with an impatient edge. “I am not talking about games that are played on the back of a horse.”
Several historical fiction novelists have backgrounds in history and I see you do as well. So you must have come to fiction with a certain knowledge base set. All your work seems to be historical fiction, I might assume that ‘s because of your studies. Do you ever see yourself or want to write other types of fiction?
I’ve been noodling around with a contemporary novella, just to see if I can do it. I’m finding it requires a very different voice, and it’s quite relaxing not having to police myself for modern slang.
What are your favorite books or methods for researching your books?
Among my favorite references books are The London Encyclopedia by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert and The Dukes, a wonderfully gossipy account of English ducal families by Brian Masters. After nearly a dozen Regencies, I know the basics of the period pretty well and fill in with research specific to each book. Reading period works can inspire ideas. For example, a few years ago I read quite a lot of early pornography to get some ideas about attitudes to sex. I found a strange little 1796 smutty novel in the British Library that became a major plot point in one of my books (The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton).
Obviously people throughout history have been driven by particular instincts (basic instincts like food, reproduction and contemporaneous, like how we worry today about bio-hazards), what do you think makes historical fiction relevant to contemporary life?
That question probably requires a book-length answer so I’ll quote L.P. Hartley: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” We learn so much by looking beyond our cozy environments, not only to other parts of the world but also to different times.
What books (print, ebook or audio) are “on your nightstand?” What are you reading?
I’ve been working my way through a memoir by the late actor Peter O’Toole. I just purchased Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart on a friend’s recommendation and may start that next. I also have Sophia Nash’s brand new The Once and Future Duchess. Hopefully by the time this interview appears I will have finished them all!
Who encouraged your writing, parents aunt, teacher, etc…
I took up writing seriously relatively late in life and I encouraged myself. On the other hand, friends and family have never been anything but supportive about this, or anything else I did. Very boring not to be able to claim any interesting obstacles!
I also see in your bio that you worked at Sotheby’s writing catalogues. What was the most interesting thing you ever described?
The earliest surviving letters written by Walt Whitman, which turned up in a drawer on Long Island where he worked as a schoolteacher in his teens.
What are the most and least different things about life in Vermont versus the UK? That’s quite a move, have you lived elsewhere in the US?
The intensity and strength of the winter has to be the most obvious difference between life in New and Old England. I hadn’t thought about similarities but both places have cultures imbued with a strong sense of history. When I first came to the States I lived in Manhattan, which I loved and still do. Vermont and New York City couldn’t be more different environments but they are both places that are tolerant of diversity and don’t believe in telling other people what to do.
Well, Thanks for taking the time to stop in and talk about this delightful book. It’s been great fun.
Thank you, Steph. I enjoyed answering such awesome questions.
You can check out the book and much more at these links:
HarperCollins/Avon is giving away a paperback copy to one of my readers! US Shipping only, and you must be at least eighteen! Rules are on the Rafflecopter form.
You must comment here on the blog and fill out the rafflecopter!
You can talk about anything civil and on topic. But, if you need some ideas here are a some to inspire you (please don’t feel you must respond to ALL of these IDEAS!)”
If you had a butler what would his name be?
Why do you read historical romance?
What’s your favorite period in historical romance?
Would you ever enter a marriage of convenience?