Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Bit of Winter Escapism… Rhys Bowens on her next Lady Georgie Novel


Follow The Yellow Brick Road

rhys at disney concert, retouchedPeople always ask authors the same question: Where do you get your ideas?

This question isn't always easy to answer. Sometimes it's something we've seen on the TV news that sparks a train of thought. Sometimes it can be something as small as a word that rattles around inside our brain.  But my books are set in the past and many of my plots actually spring from my research. In the case of both my Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness books, I often start with a place--how about if I send Lady Georgie to a royal wedding in Europe and it turns out to be a castle in Transylvania? Or wouldn't it be interesting if Molly Murphy investigated a case in New York's Chinatown?  Then I start to read up on the real history and usually a story starts to emerge from what I discover.

5140n0Lrr7L._bL160_Sometimes this research is an absolute road to serendipity and this was the case with the Lady Georgie book I have just finished, to be called Naughty in Nice. As you can tell from the title it takes place on the French Riviera. This was where the rich aristocrats spent their winters in the 1930s so I thought that Georgie should also have a little fun there. I read all I could about the English on the Riviera, then I went to Nice (I know, tough assignment) and poured through old travel books and photographs in the library there. I prowled the Negresco hotel and looked at their photograph collection. I checked old newspapers to see who else might have been on the Riviera at the same time as my heroine and found that Coco Chanel had a villa not far from where I intended to house Geogie. How could I resist a story with Chanel in it?

And when I started to follow up about Chanel, that was when I hit pay dirt. She and her business partner, the English aristocrat Vera Bate Lombardi ( the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cambridge, Queen Mary's brother) had put on a fashion show for rich English clients on the Riviera. The show combined Chanel's play on masculine and feminine so she had models wearing tweed jackets borrowed from her former lover the Duke of Westminster. Under the jackets were lacy blouses and fabulous jewels. P1020141

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I read that Queen Mary had actually lent her niece Vera some of her own jewels for the models to wear in the show. What a perfect set up for a crime! And given my heroine's natural clumsiness what a delicious recipe for disaster!

Rhys Bowen, A Royal PainSo you see that sometimes we fish around in the dark, trying to turn that germ of idea into a story, and sometimes that story is handed to us on a plate. The Riviera full of naughty English lords and ladies, Coco Chanel, the Prince of Wales (and that American woman), the Duke of Westminster with his enormous yacht, Queen Mary's jewels and my penniless and disaster-prone heroine. How could I possibly go wrong?

Naughty in Nice comes out next September.


Check out Rhys Bowen on the web at her blog, Rhys's Pieces,


Jungle Red Writers

Order one or all from Rhy’s Lady Georgie Series at The Poisoned Pen

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie

1. Her Royal Spyness (2007)
2. A Royal Pain (2008)
3. Royal Flush (2009) Signed
4. Royal Blood Signed (2010)

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