In case you didn’t know, the lovely and talented Carolyn Jewel recently had a new release. Just look at that stunning cover!
I did a “Fresh Meat” post for this at H&H so you can read my thoughts on it there. Anyway, I always like knowing more about a book I enjoyed, so I came up with a bunch of potential topics for Ms. Jewel… and she decided to do mini answers on each!
When Lily Wellston heads to the Bitterward Estate to comfort her widowed friend Caroline, she certainly does not have romance in mind. In fact the playful but level-headed Lily is amused to no end when, en route, a gypsy gifts her with a beautiful medallion, claiming it will ensnare the romantic desires of a stranger.
But Fate has other plans in the form of Caroline’s ruggedly handsome brother, the Duke of Mountjoy. One day at Bitterward and Lily can’t deny the sizzling attraction between her and the roguish duke. Nothing can come of it, of course. She’s not looking for entanglements and he’s practically engaged. But whether it’s her outgoing nature and the duke’s outlandish ways sparking off one another; or the mysterious gypsy medallion working “magic”—hearts are stirring in the most unexpected and wicked ways…
How did you come up with with Not Wicked Enough/the series? (I know it’s at least two connected books… I’m good with it being two.)
My two previous historicals, Scandal and Indiscreet, were both on the angsty side of the scale. Despite Scandal being a RITA finalist and appearing on a list of the 100 Best Romances, and despite Indiscreet winning a Booksellers Best Award, sales were, well, dismal. In 2009 and 2010, with the economy in such terrible shape, the feeling was that, no matter how good the books, readers preferred a lighter story. That being the case, my publisher was not wild about the thought of more angsty historical romances from me. It was only after I proposed writing something lighter in tone that we could move forward with a contract.
My proposal was a series of books loosely linked by a “magical” amulet, with no real magic (or is there?). As my agent will attest, I cannot write a detailed synopsis unless the book is already written. I never know exactly what the story will be until I start writing it.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research for Not Wicked Enough?
I’m afraid this won’t be very exciting to people who aren’t history nerds, but I learned a lot about Regency era door hardware. I needed to know how a doorknob might fail so as to trap my hero and heroine in a room. I was having the absolute worst time getting specific information that would answer my question, and I was beginning to think I’d have to do something completely different to achieve the outcome I intended with the scene. But then I got in contact with the president of a group of antique doorknob collectors, and he was kind enough to point me in the direction of two newsletter articles that contained everything I needed to know, with pictures and dates.
Although doorknobs existed in the Regency era (1811 to 1820) they were not the turning doorknobs we know today. Door hardware in this period had a metal plate with a knob affixed to it. The knobs, which can be quite beautifully worked, were essentially there for leverage. You grabbed the doorknob to move the door.
What made you choose Lily (the heroine) to be such a person for clothes and how much research did you have to do to come up with her outfits?
Remember when I said, I can’t write a synopsis until after the book is done? Well, this sort of thing is why. I didn’t make a conscious choice that Lily was a Regency Fashionista and Mountjoy (the hero) was not. I had no idea until I started writing.
It went kind of like this, and although I am condensing several days work, this is how it happened:
Lily has arrived at her destination late at night. It’s raining and she’s concerned that her pretty slippers might be ruined and that her gown might now have water spots. Well. Isn’t that interesting? (It was to me at the time, OK?) She sees a very tall man in the foyer with her. Very handsome. Also quiet. He has a tremendous presence, but, gee, the servant is dressed better than he his.
From that scene, it can’t be much of a surprise that a writer would really work the fact that Lily and Mountjoy are opposites in their feelings about clothes. For me, it was a key to Lily’s personality. She wanted beauty in her life. Why? Because as a child, she was not permitted to indulge her tastes. Her family didn’t have money, but now she has it. Her money permits her, in a small but not insignificant way, to prove that her controlling father no longer controls her.
As to research for the clothing, over the years, I’ve collected a really wonderful set of books, website links and images of Regency era clothing, so I had a great deal of visual information and inspiration readily at hand.
What was your favorite part of writing Not Wicked Enough? Your most hated?
For me, the worst part is the beginning, when I don’t know the characters well enough to know what situations will most challenge them and drive the story forward. The best part is when I know exactly what sets off sparks between my hero and heroine, usually at the 50-60% done mark. Then it’s mostly a matter of rewriting and rearranging the parts.
Isn’t Ms. Jewel sneaky? She basically got an interview out of me! Not the usual type we see here though. Have you read this book yet? Have you read anything by Carolyn Jewel? Do you read historical romances? Got any questions for Ms. Jewel on the nitty gritty of Not Wicked Enough?
Ask away! One lucky commenter will win a gorgeous copy of Not Wicked Enough.