I generally like to tell people I have a few great passions: faith, history, travel—and family. I use all of them in my books. In the process of writing the Dangerous Books I started with four friends, but I created five families almost by accident: the Wheatlys and the Landrums (A Dangerous Nativity), the Mallets (Dangerous Works), the Haydens (Dangerous Weakness), and the Heyworths (Dangerous Secrets), quietly living over in Rome. That last group hasn’t figured in any of the other books except for Jamie’s appearance in Dangerous Works.
The Children of Empire series centered on the Wheatlys, and it also featured Thorn and Zambak Hayden. A few people have asked for Thorn’s story next, but I’m not ready to tell it.
This week I’ve been digging deeply into Andrew and Georgiana Mallet’s family: their successes and failures, their strengths and wounds. (Characters are boring if you don’t figure out where their pain lies.) Andrew and Georgiana made an appearance in Dangerous Weakness. Their son Richard appears in The Reluctant Wife as an awkward teenager traveling in Egypt with his uncle, the Duke of Sudbury. I envisioned three children for them along ago but I’m just now getting better acquainted. I’m mostly asking questions at the moment.
- What is it like to grow up as the oldest son of a hero of Waterloo in a time of peace?
- What is it like to be raised in a modest household and have cousins who are among the wealthiest in England?
- How far do sons want to separate themselves from their father’s profession—and then how far do they actually go
- In a world that values status and class as much as Victorian England, what is it like to be the daughter of a woman who chucked high status away, married a commoner, and refused her title?
- Would the daughter of an militantly independent woman be a feminist or go the other way as a way out of defiance or to define herself as different than her mother?
- What impact would the ongoing matter of their father’s injuries and poor health have on all of them?
- What would a financial crisis do to them?
- How do the social reforms of the 1830s impact them?
- Would their powerful uncle see these talented young people as potentially useful politically? How would their parents react to that?
and of course
- What was going on around the world in the 1840s and how would their interests and talents lead them to be involved?
I plan to look at all five families. Watch for more on a different family next week.I want to think about them all individually and about how they interrelate since the characters in the older generation are all friends, and in some cases relatives. If you’re interested, I’ve created a Facebook group for my characters; they are sorted into units by family. If you are interested, you can join it here:
So many choices—so many ideas. I want to plan out three books for the next series before I begin to write again. In the meantime, I have two novellas and a short made-to-order story in process. I’m keeping busy! But first, coffee.