Inside The Duke is Mine
Warning! In describing relations between characters, I may wreck a book for you by making it clear who someone marries, or the outcome of a book. Please do not read about The Inside Take if you're wary of knowing who is paired with whom!
- The Duke is Mine is structured around the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea. I started off writing the story happily enough (I love the scene when Olivia arrives in the middle of the night), but I quickly ran into trouble with that pea. How on earth was I going to maneuver Olivia in a room with a load of mattresses? Why would anyone stack mattresses almost to the ceiling, and how was she (a reasonable girl) supposed to feel a pea at the bottom of them? It was a glorious day when I figured out the answers to those questions…
- Another problem I faced in shaping this story was creating a hero who didn’t care if his mother chose his wife for him. Quin was in danger of turning into a mama’s boy, or someone so uninterested in women that he probably shouldn’t marry at all. Then one day I figured out the key to his character while reading an article in The New York Times that quoted Bob Lemon, the former Cleveland Indians pitcher and Yankees manager. “I’ve had everything in baseball a man could ask for. I’ve been so fortunate,” Lemon apparently said. “Outside of my boy getting killed. That really puts it in perspective. So you don’t win the pennant. You don’t win the World Series. Who gives a damn? Twenty years from now, who’ll give a damn?” Quin’s grief was inspired by the suffering behind Lemon’s questions…his words gave me the key to Quin’s character.
- Olivia’s mother is obsessed by a manual that actually existed, although I took huge liberties with the text. The Mirrour of Complements was printed in 1650. I think its subtitle says it all: “or, A Manuall of choice, requisite, and compendious curiosities wherein gentlemen, ladies, gentlewomen, and all others may practise complemental and amorous expressions, in speaking or writing letters, upon any subject or occasion : exactly performed with addition of witty songs, sonnets, poems, epigrams, essays, characters, etc.”
- Here’s a fun little tidbit: the first time I wrote this novel, or at least the first 175 pages, Olivia wasn’t the heroine. Her sister Georgiana (aka the Perfect Duchess) was. That made sense, right? Georgiana could pass any number of tests… but she didn’t make the book sing. And meanwhile Olivia was stealing the show. Someday I might write Georgiana’s story… right now, I’m happy thinking of her off at university learning complicated algebra and planning to trounce Quin at all his mathematical equations someday.
- Lucy in The Duke is Mine is my own dog. We rescued her from a shelter called Secondhand Hounds run by Connie Brockway’s fabulous daughter. In the beginning there was some rumbling in our household about the fact that Lucy was not cute and furry… but now everyone loves her to death. It was great fun to put her in the novel; if you want to see her in video, here she is!
- Talking of beloved beings in our household… I hope you enjoyed Sir Justin Fiebvre as much as did my daughter Anna (aged 11-12) while I was writing this book. Every day she would ask me to write more about him, since my character was the closest she would ever come to talking to her great passion, Justin Bieber himself. It was a hard lesson when she realized that Sir Justin was only a secondary character. Still, I hope I managed to capture something of the singer’s talent and effortless charm (I ought to be able to: I think I’ve seen his movie four times!).