Wednesday, October 06, 2010

History is Stranger than Fiction by Lauren Willig Author of The Pink Carnation Series and Bonus Giveaway

Historically Obsessed is proud to welcome author Lauren Willig for her first visit to Historically Obsessed. Lauren has a new reprint of "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation" just hit bookstores everywhere yesterday on October 5th 2010. My review will be up shortly and I can say that in store there are all kinds of Lauren giveaways and much much more. Please put your hands together and welcome Lauren Willig to talk a little bit about how history is stranger than fiction. Please take it away Laurel we are all dying to hear what you think. Do not forget to read the whole post there is an extra special treat for the readers at the end.

History Is Stranger Than Fiction by Lauren Willig

History is stranger than fiction.  Recently, I had the fun of seeing select scenes from my first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, transformed from prose into pictures.   Pink Carnation is set in 1803, during Napoleon’s tenure as First Consul, just at the point where Anglo-French relations deteriorating once again into open warfare.  My half-English, half-French heroine is in the famous Yellow Salon of the Tuileries Palace, being presented to Mme Bonaparte, when Bonaparte himself barrels in, interrupting the conversation and knocking her half off her feet.

Kind of over the top, no?  A little burlesqued, even.  I had a moment of alarm on seeing the comic version, wondering what readers might think.  Would it strike them as too absurd?  But that was Napoleon for you.  He really did barge into his wife’s salons, interrupting mid-sentence.  He bolted his food at meals, forcing everyone to eat as quickly as he did, and there are even memorable stories of his ripping—yes, literally ripping—the dresses off women he suspected of wearing embargoed British muslin rather than French linen from St. Quentin.  It gives a whole new meaning to bodice ripper.

One of the best parts of writing historical fiction is getting to stumble across tidbits like these.  History is full of slapstick—like Josephine’s pug dog, Fortune, biting the future Emperor on their wedding night, or King Charles I getting stuck in a window while attempting to escape from Parliamentary custody.  Not so amusing for the players at the time, but pure Monty Python in retrospect.  

One of the difficulties of writing historical fiction is judging when the absurd is too absurd, when truth will come across as falsehood, because, really, who does things like that?  My entire series is premised around the notion of flower-named spies dashing about Europe during the Napoleonic Wars, leaving witty notes on Napoleon’s pillow and thwarting his military maneuvers.  Absurd?  Perhaps.  True?  Absolutely.  There was a veritable bouquet of spies with flower aliases on the prowl in early nineteenth century France, including a Mouron (a Pimpernel), and, my favorite, la Prime-Rose (a pun on primrose), a comely lady spy who, when the occasion called for it, could disguise herself as anything from a courtesan to a young boy.

Were there female spies during the Napoleonic Wars?  You betcha.  La Prime-Rose (like my own fictional Pink Carnation) was just one among many.  One of my favorite bizarre but true stories is that of a fifty-year old widow, a Mrs. Arabella Williams, who successfully disguised herself for several years as a teenage cabin boy while she carried information back and forth between England and France.

I could go on and on—and generally do, unless stopped by that glaze-eyed expression people get when you pontificate at them at cocktail parties.  Among my researches, I’ve stumbled across an Indian ruler who liked to strangle courtesans with silk handkerchiefs, a rebellion in Ireland foiled by accidental fireworks, the inner workings of the Hellfire Club, and even some surprising information about that perpetual fan favorite, Miss Jane Austen.  

Some things even I can’t make up….

Thank you Lauren for paying visit and what a cool post and how fun it was to read. I love comic art and I think that is more my thing too when it comes down to art. It is so different to put a face to the character and she what it turns out like. For more on Lauren and her wonderful comic check out her website. Trust me I saw it and man is it cool. Now it is giveaway time,

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation Open to US  and Canada it is a beautiful paperback copy!
For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.

For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know in the comments. You're eligible for the extra entry as well.

For 3 entries blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word.

Giveaway will end on October 13rd at midnight.

Good luck to everyone I know one lucky reader is going to be very happy with this one. 

"Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she's the one thrown into some stranger's lap. And she's had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own"?

More on Lauren
Send a Pink Carnation E-card

The Secret History of the Pink CarnationThe Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation ChristmasThe Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation)The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Pink Carnation)The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation)The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation)The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

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  1. Great post! Please enter me in the giveaway.


    I already follow your blog!

  2. Great post Lizzy and I think this book is a great way to entertain us as well as inform us about history. AND it's always interesting to learn that the royals were just as human as we are with all their antics. I'd love to win this book and looking forward to more in the series.
    Fondly, Roberta

  3. Hey Lizzy...oh yes I'm a follower ;)

  4. Okay...I just tweeted, facebooked and DUG your giveaway post link to share the blog love ;)

  5. Thank you for the giveaway!

  6. The things that aren't taught in history classes. I have learned some really unusual facts about history, that is always my response, you just can't make this stuff up. I would love to read the book.
    I am already a gfc follower.

  7. What a thoroughly delightful post. I love knowing strange-but-true tidbits. Thanks for the giveaway. This is a series I've been wanting to start.

    extra entry - follower through Google Reader


  8. No need to enter me because I already have this one, but this was a great post. I can't believe that a 50 year old woman could disguise herself as a teenage boy! That's incredible!

  9. Oh yeah!!! Please enter me in the giveaway! I am a follower! Thanks so much...

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

  10. Oh yeah!!! Please enter me in the giveaway! I am a follower! Thanks so much...

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

  11. sounds great!

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

  12. gfc follower #1

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

  13. gfc follower #2

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

  14. I have been wanting to read this series. Thanks for the giveaway!

    I'm an old GFC follower.



  15. Totally interested in Lauren's comments, definitely leaves me wanting more! Thanks, Susan. PS Please enter me in the contest too!

  16. so excited about this book. i love the new cover!


    this is a great blog will use it for reader's advisory for historical fiction. yay!

  17. Hello everyone, I am so glad you all feel the same way as me. History is entertaining and it is so nice to know that other people enjoy the same unusual history as me. It is fun reading and then doing research on them after-wards. Dolleygurl I am so with you I could not believe that a fifty year old woman could pass as a teenage boy. She must have been super skinny and very young looking.

    Good luck everyone I am reading it now and loving it.

  18. Looks like a really good book!

    Already a follower =)

  19. thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  20. well I would love to win this book and I follow your blog
    thanks for giving me a chanch
    gramsof 20

  21. Thanks for this one! Very excited :)
    I follow


  22. I also reTweeted the post :)

    kidneyinacooler @ twitter


  23. +1 Very interesting post by Miss Lauren. Her post reads as if she was in front of me telling an exciting story! I would love to read her novel.

    +2 I do follow you thru google connect. Thanks.

    nunezbella at hotmail dotcom

  24. I've been a fan of Lauren Willig's for some time. And now, through her website, I have discovered your blog and am now an enthusiastic follower of your's as well! Love everything about your blog . . . the articles, the book suggestions! Please enter me in the contest to win Lauren's book.


  25. Thank you everyone for your cool comments. I am so in love with this series snow and I have something big in store for it next year. I can not wait to tell you all about it but that will have to wait until next year. I am getting the winner now and will post it in Mailbox Mondays tomorrow. Good luck everyone is Lauren not the coolest or what?


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