Posted by Diana Belchase
Our very own Manda Collins has her newest Wicked Widows novel out today! Yippee! The characters in Why Earls Fall in Love are so delicious, I’ve been counting the days until its release. Manda and I sat down to discuss what makes her novels so special. (Oh, and how to win a Manda Collins novel today! See below.)
:::Uncorking a bottle of champagne and passing out glasses for Manda and all our readers:::
Diana: Your settings in this series are really wonderful. I feel as if I’m swept away on a vacation every time I read one of your books. How important do you think the places you write about are to your plots?
Manda: It would be difficult to imagine one of Colin Dexter’s wonderful Inspector Morse mysteries set in anyplace other than Oxford England. The same could be said if one were tempted to move the action of one of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries to say, Texas. As with real estate, location in books matters! Especially when it comes to suspense. It can affect where the action takes place, what resources the characters will have at their disposal to solve the mystery, and even what sorts of danger could lurk for our hero and heroine.
Diana: ::: passing a tray of delicate, Regency-style cucumber sandwiches to Manda and our guests::: So, what made you pick the location for Why Earls Fall in Love?Manda: When I chose to set my latest Wicked Widows novel, Why Earls Fall in Love, in Bath, I did so for several reasons. First of all, as companion to an elderly lady, Georgina would’ve be very likely to find herself in the spa town. Bath was, after all, one of the most popular places in England for invalids and the elderly to gather so that they could partake of the medicinal waters, which had been used to such purpose for hundreds of years.
Diana: ::: wrinkling nose::: I heard the waters contained odd minerals and were absolutely awful tasting and smelly. Wasn’t Bath mostly a chic place for people to see and be seen?
Manda: Once a thriving social whirl, by the time Georgie and Lady Russell arrive in Bath it has lost some of the polish that once made it such a popular spot. With the Prince Regent’s removal, along with his entourage, to the seaside town of Brighton, the Bath that Georgie arrives in has become a place where the elderly and those unable to afford a London season can repair to mingle with polite society for less. (Recall that in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, it is to Bath that the spendthrift Sir Walter Elliot is convinced to go when he can no longer afford to remain in his country estate.)
Diana: Oh yes! I forgot about that. So it’s a place for economical socialization? Hmmm so why did you put your Earl there? Such lovely photos by the way. Makes me want to go this very minute.
Manda: Another reason I chose Bath was that unlike London, it would be easier for people of differing classes to mix without too much difficulty. Because Bath society at this time wasn’t nearly as strict as it was earlier in the century, it was possible for the shabby genteel and the middle classes to mix with the wealthy at the Pump Room or in the Assembly Rooms without much fuss. And because I wished for Georgie to be able to see her old friends from her Army days, I needed that to be the case.
Diana: ::: Passing out chocolate covered cherries to get rid of the imaginary taste of Bath waters::: A perfect way for them to meet! Clever and sneaky of you. But, I hope there is more for them to do than sit around and drink smelly water?
Manda: ::: laughing::: Unlike other towns of its size during the era, Bath offered many of the same kinds of entertainments that might be found in larger cities, like London, such as the theatre, gentlemen’s clubs, lending libraries, and even tourist destinations like Bath Abbey and Farleigh Castle. When it came to choosing a destination for Georgie and Con’s romance, then, I simply had to choose Bath! I can’t tell you more about how these special locations within the city of Bath play into the story without revealing some very major spoilers, but know that now the book is finished and nearly published, I cannot imagine WHY EARLS FALL IN LOVE taking place in any other place.
Diana: Well, you’ve convinced me! I cannot wait to dive into this book!
Manda: So, let’s talk locations. What are some of your favorite mysteries, romances, or romantic suspense stories, in which the setting really made a difference? Do you think the book would have been the same if the setting were suddenly swapped out with another locale? What is it about that city or town that makes it the perfect place for the book to take place? Inquiring minds want to know! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Why Earl’s Fall in Love.
Diana: And don’t forget to get Manda Collins latest Wicked Widow Novel, Why Earl’s Fall in Love, out today!