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FOLLOW THE HEART: The Inspiration

Monday, April 15, 2013

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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.

The Buccaneers
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!

  1. Debra E. Marvin permalink
    Monday, April 15, 2013 8:54 am

    Ah yes. The Buccaneers. I’ve watched it more than once – and not because I enjoy it. Does that make sense?
    I, too, was happy to see the Exhibition show up in North and South. The whole idea of Albert’s grand scheme is fascinating. They were, after all, basically on top of the world.


    • Monday, April 15, 2013 9:13 am

      It does make sense—that’s why I said I have a love-hate relationship with it. And the oddest thing about it is that the character I have the most sympathy for is Julius—the duke! That’s not right, is it? I’m supposed to be rooting for Nan and Guy, right? But I find I can’t.


  2. Janella permalink
    Monday, April 15, 2013 10:46 am

    I can’t say I’ve read books that take place during theGreat Exhibition so this series sounds very interesting.

    I have yet to watch North and South but I really enjoyed reading the book.


  3. Monday, April 15, 2013 10:59 am

    I find all this information very interesting. I haven’t started reading this series yet or the Ransome’s Quest series. Right now, I’m not into historical fiction although I have read and enjoyed it in the past. Since you are blogging about it, maybe I will get excited about reading your series.


  4. Monday, April 15, 2013 11:24 am

    Kaye, I loved your sharing in this blog. It’s so interesting to hear how you came to write a new series. I have enjoyed two of your Ransome Trilogy books and look forward to this new series. My wip is an historical set in Charles Town in the pirate era. Do you have enough influencers for your new series? I am part of Mary Lu Tyndale’s “motley crew,” the chaplain, no less, and I’ve just written a review for her latest release, Forsaken Dreams and posted it on Amazon and five other sites. I’ve signed up for your blog. I’m about to go out of town and may not get your follow up comment for a week or more, if you send one. Blessings on your new series. —Elva Cobb Martin, President Upstate SC ACW Chapter, Anderson, SC


  5. Dora permalink
    Monday, April 15, 2013 11:45 am

    In the ’80’s, we were fortunate enough to attend the World’s Fair in Knoxville. It was wonderful to all of the displays from each of the participating countries. I was looking forward to seeing the building, where it had been moved, while in London, only to learn that it had burned down. However, while touring Kennisington Palace, I was able to learn a lot about the Exhibition and Prince Albert’s determination to have it take place. Can’t wait to read the series, as I have always had a soft spot for the Victorian Era.


  6. Monday, April 15, 2013 12:59 pm

    Now I need to watch North and South again!! It’s been a bit, but I loved it so much. 🙂


  7. Ellen permalink
    Monday, April 15, 2013 1:25 pm

    I just love all of your books. Cannot wait for this new series to be released. Thanks for giving us such great reading….only wished we did not have to wait sooo long for new books to come out…..


  8. Monday, April 15, 2013 6:02 pm

    I love history! I’m not much of a TV watcher (read: almost none) so I don’t know the shows you’re discussing, but now… give me a good book and we’re all set!


  9. Michelle permalink
    Monday, April 15, 2013 6:25 pm

    North & South is one of my favorite movies. I can’t wait to see how you incorporate the Great Exhibition into your new series. I’ll definitely have to look into The Buccaneers.


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