Today is the official publication day of my 82nd book for Mills & Boon, A Diamond in the Snow.
I loved writing this book. I wanted to do a country house book, and I so happened to visit a couple of country houses that were trimmed up for Christmas.
Hmm, I thought. I can do a house with a leaky roof that needs a fundraiser, and we can have a Christmas Fayre. A mashup between Downton Abbey and the Winter Wonderland in London.
Except then Blickling Hall was open during the winter and you could chat to the conservators. We talked about dry rot and death watch beetle (I was very tempted by that) and moths and the problem of sunlight. And we were in the Peter the Great Room (which had silk wall hangings) and it hit me. Regency Ballroom. Regency Christmas. The problem of managing humidity because damp can cause a lot of damage…
Now, my editor knows I love the whole thing about food in history; if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a food historian or be teaching a course about food in literature. She knew she was going to have to rein me back a bit. But I had SUCH FUN planning a Regency ball. With the dancing (the waltz in Regency times was not the same as it is now), with the food (because the two rooms I always want to see in any country house or museum are the library and the kitchen – I already have facsimiles of early recipe books so I had a lot of fun on the research side) and with the costumes. And the furnishings. And a dog sneaked in. Humphrey the Labrador is actually a very different dog in disguise (see right for a sneak preview of the real thing doing his Undercover Secret Agent thing – if this was video rathe than still, and there was a canine translator, you’d hear ‘Psst, the password is porridge’).
I’ll leave this post with a card from my publisher: Happy Book Birthday!