FOLLOW THE HEART: The Inspiration
Let’s see . . . how did I come up with the idea behind Follow the Heart and the Great Exhibition Series? It’s been so long ago, it’s hard to remember details, but I’ll do my best.
In early 2010, while I was writing Ransome’s Quest, I was asked for a proposal for a new series to follow it. At that point, because I was still so caught up in the world of the Ransomes and Witheringtons and Cochranes, I wrote a “next-gen” proposal in which Sir Drake Pembroke uses his oldest son to try to gain the fortune he himself couldn’t win through Julia by having his son woo and wed Julia’s youngest child, Margaret. Much drama ensued and the three-book proposal spanned a couple of years and took place in both Jamaica and England—and culminated with a grand finale at, you guessed it, the Great Exhibition of 1851.
I’d already fallen in love with the idea of setting something around the time period of the Great Exhibition because of this:
. . . and this . . .
Because of Victoria & Albert I’d been intrigued with the idea and the history of the Great Exhibition since 2001. Because of North & South, I’d been convinced it would be a fabulous setting for a romance novel since around 2007 or 2008.
But the Pembroke Trilogy didn’t sell to the publisher of the Ransome series, and by the time I finished Ransome’s Quest, I was ready to move on to different characters anyway. But I was intrigued by the mid-Victorian setting—the early years of the Industrial Revolution, the shifting of society and culture from Romanticism to Victorian, and, of course, the Great Exhibition itself.
There’s another costume-drama miniseries with which I have much more of a love-hate relationship than most of the others I’ve ever watched—The Buccaneers, based on the unfinished novel by Edith Wharton. The premise of this story is one of the more romanticized ideals of the Gilded Age—wealthy American heiresses descending on England to marry titled, landed, but impoverished gentlemen.
I decided to flip that notion on its head. What if instead of a wealthy girl being sent to England to marry for title/land an impoverished girl (and her brother) were sent to England to marry for money?
And, naturally, the path toward matrimony cannot be smooth. What if she does meet a wealthy, titled gentleman who is willing to marry her and offer her family the salvation and security they need. But what if she secretly falls in love not with him but with an equally impoverished, working-class man who has nothing but his heart to offer her.
And that’s where the inspiration for Follow the Heart began.
On May 1, I will be giving away FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart.
Beginning Monday, April 15, 2013, and ending Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on the background and inspiration for the Great Exhibition series and Follow the Heart. Each comment you leave on every post between 4/15/13 and 4/30/13 will earn you a name in the “hat” for the drawing. (Posts will be closed to new comments after 24 hours, so be sure to check in daily—subscribe via email above, or check my Twitter or Facebook page, as each new post gets announced there, too—for the latest post to comment on.)
Comment early, comment often!