Anne here, with a guest and a quiz.
The guest is Honorary Word Wench and Georgette Heyer biographer Jennifer Kloester. Jennifer has been here before, but this time she's visiting in a slightly new guise — as a young adult author. There's a brief interview with her, and then a quiz that will really have many of you knotting your brains. (Cue evil laughter.)
Anne: Jennifer, how have you found the change from writing biography to fiction?
Jennifer: It's been fascinating and great fun. I've always dreamed of writing fiction but the Georgette Heyer books had priority. Actually, I think that immersing myself in her writing has been hugely beneficial. She was such a brilliant writer and so superlatively good at plotting and character that I learned a tremendous amount from reading and re-reading her novels.
One of the delicious things about fiction as opposed to non-fiction is being able to make things up. It took me a little while to give myself permission to do that but it turned out be incredibly liberating. I love writing my characters' back-stories because I discover all sorts of things about them that I didn't know but that will influence the the things they do and say in the book.
The other big difference for me between writing fiction and non-fiction is how it feels to be published. It was thrill to have my two Georgette Heyer books published but having my first novel come out was incredibly exciting! I think the difference was that the first two books were factual but The Cinderella Moment was my very own imagined story. I still can't quite believe it's real!
Anne: Tell us a little about The Cinderella Moment. That's the USA cover above left.
Jennifer: It's a romantic, escapist novel set mainly in contemporary Paris and is full of fashion, romance and intrigue – kind of Cinderella meets the Prince and the Pauper only in a modern setting. My heroine, Angel, is 16 and dreams of being a fashion designer. She's entering a competition called the 'Teen Couture', run by her idol, the world-famous couturier, Antoine Vidal. When things go horribly wrong, Angel's best friend convinces her to go to Paris in her place and try to fix things before it's too late.
It's a book about mistaken identity, friendship, high society, love and betrayal. Plus it's full of great clothes (probably the Heyer influence!).
Anne: Can you share a brief excerpt?
‘Lily!’ The clipped English tones sounded across the arrivals hall. Oblivious to her new name, Angel kept walking.
‘Lily! Lily de Tourney.’
Angel stopped dead. Surely there couldn’t be someone else who knew Lily? She spun round and found herself looking up into a pair of sparkling brown eyes beneath a tangle of curly chestnut hair.
She held her breath.
‘Lily de Tourney, after all these years.’ Noticing her blank look, he said, ‘It’s me – Nick Halliday. As soon as I saw Henri,’ he nodded to the chauffeur, ‘I knew it had to be you.’
She stared at him, speechless, while inwardly cursing Lily for her blithe assurances that no one in Paris knew her.
Jennifer: Yes, I had a great time writing it and really enjoyed the research – especially the bits in Paris. I'm now working on the sequel The Rapunzel Dilemma which is the best friend, Lily's story.
Anne: Excellent. I'm looking forward to it. And now onto the quiz, which Jennifer provided the facts for. So many people found my Regency Slang quiz too easy, I approached Jen, as the greatest living Heyer expert — to get some obscure but interesting facts about Georgette Heyer. The information can be found or deduced from the contents of her Heyer Biography.
As with my previous quizzes, you'll need a pen and paper to note your answers, then click on the link at the bottom to get the answers. Then come back and tell us how you went — and any facts you found surprising.
Quiz: Ten Things You Might Not Know About Georgette Heyer
2) When she signed her first book contract, Georgette was living in:
4) When living in Sussex, Georgette had a cat called:
6) Georgette felt very proud of her first attempt at:
a) jumping on horseback
b) knitting a pair of socks for her brother
c) writing a story when she was eight
d) making a silk and brocade patchwork cushion
7) Georgette was reviewed by the Times Literary Supplement:
b) eight times
c) forty times
d) twenty-three times
9) One of Georgette's all-time favourite characters was:
a) Damerel from Venetia
b) Léonie in These Old Shades
c) her villain, the Duke of Andover, who she remade as the Duke of Avon, her hero in These Old Shades
d) Ferdy Fakenham who later became the basis for Freddy in Cotillion
10) Georgette's husband, Ronald Rougier, assisted her with the plots of all her detective novels except:
a) Death in the Stocks
b) Why Shoot a Butler?
c) Pistols for Two
To get the answers and check your score, click here. Don't forget to come back and tell us how you went. Jennifer Kloester is giving away a copy of The Cinderella Moment to someone who leaves a comment.