Our Pages

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lady Scribes Welcomes Diane Gaston!

I am so pleased to welcome our guest to Lady Scribes today!  I met Diane Gaston at the home of the Duke of Wellington.  No, really!  Lo, these many years ago, I went on a Regency tour of England.  I didn't know anyone else on the trip.  I arrived in London the first morning of the tour, got picked up at the airport and we were off to our first stop, Stratfield Saye.  Diane was one of the first people I met that day.  It was the beginning of a fabulous tour and of many wonderful friendships!

Diane and I, and many others from the tour, including Amanda McCabe, kept in touch after that trip.  We got together as often as we could at the RWA National Conference.  And eventually, Diane and Amanda and I ended up writing an anthology and a series together.  But I'll let Diane tell us about it!

A Not So Respectable Gentleman is the final installment in the series about the Fitzmanning Miscellany, begun in the Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology.  Will you tell the story of how it all began?

I’ll be delighted to! It began at a dinner during an RWA conference. Then Mills and Boon/Harlequin Historical editor Maddie Rowe invited you, Amanda McCabe and me out to dinner, which we all thought was merely a-nice-thing-to-do. But Maddie offered the three of us an anthology and each a book connected to the anthology. Harlequin Historical gave us carte blanche to do it any way we wanted as long as the stories were set in the Regency.
Later that year the three of us met in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, to decided what we wanted to do. Except we spent most of our time touring the historic sites, just like on our trip to England! When we stopped for lunch, we started to talk about the anthology. We quickly agreed that we wanted connecting stories, rather than, say, stories connected by theme.
In a surprisingly short time, a matter of only a couple of hours, we created the Fitzmanning Miscellany, a mix of legitimate and illegitimate sons and daughters of a duke and his lover, a countess who left her husband to cohabitate with him. 
 It seemed to me that our characters just rose up in our imaginations fully formed. I know that I knew immediately which members of our motley family I wanted to write about and so did you and Amanda. As I recall, we even immediately knew their names. It was magical, The whole experience of writing the anthology remains my favorite writing experience to date.
Which is why A Not So Respectable Gentleman? is dedicated to you, Deb Marlowe, and to Amanda McCabe.

We had a lot of fun doing this series, starting with the margaritas we had at dinner that night, as I recall, and on through such fun at Williamsburg--I remember the sheer excitement of lolling about that hotel room, brainstorming the Fitzmannings--and continuing through about a million emails as we wrote.
 I'm sad to see the end of the series, but so excited to see our unruly family again and especially to read Leo's story!  Tell us about him and Mariel Covendale, his heroine.

 I loved revisiting "our" family. And I was so fortunate to have the last book so that I could bring the whole Miscellany back together again.
 Leo doesn’t really figure much in your book or Amanda’s, but that was because he was trying to find his place in the world. He thought he’d figured it all out when he discovered Mariel Covendale, childhood friend of his sisters, had grown into a beautiful woman. But his dreams literally go up in smoke and, even worse, he hears she has chosen a respectable lord over him. He flees to the Continent for a life befitting a bastard son, becoming an adventurer and a gambler and developing a scandalous reputation.
 Now one of his clandestine business deals brings him back to London, where he keeps his seat at the card table warm, his pockets full of winnings and his mind off the raven-haired heiress who betrayed him. But then he hears whispers at the gaming hell that Mariel had not married those years ago, but is now being forced into marriage with an unscrupulous fortune hunter!
 Leo thought nothing would entice him back into the society he now detests, but he feels duty-bound to help her before returning to his clandestine existence. The problem is, he hasn’t counted on Mariel having grown even more achingly beautiful than he remembered. Soon Leo realizes there is nothing respectable about his reasons for stopping Mariel’s marriage. 
Every family member we created that day in Williamsburg returns to play their part in bringing Leo his happy ending. Nothing less would do for the last Diamonds of Welbourne Manor story.

Did the fact that Leo is illegitimate add a challenge as you set out to write his story?

I don't know if I'd say it was a challenge. It was more the inspiration for his character! When we invented the family, I immediately wondered what it would be like to be the one illegitimate son. Certainly his feelings about himself would be different from his brothers. No matter how much his family loved him, he could never be what his brothers were. Unlike the others, he could never be a part of the aristocracy, no matter what he did or who he married. 

Leo and Mariel's story features one of my favorite tropes--the second chance at love.  As a writer, what do you like about a reunion story?

I think the emotions in a reunion story are intensified over other kinds of love stories. You know the hero and heroine have already been through that heady experience of first falling in love--and they've lost it. How painful is that? And by reuniting the lovers, you force them to risk that pain again. The romance genre is all about emotions and a reunion story gives the author plenty to explore. 

Diane is known for writing fabulous stories about the darker sides of the Regency.  Can you tell us what you have coming next?

I'm so excited. My next book, Born to Scandal, is coming very soon! December, 2012, and should be available as early as November 13. Born to Scandal is my first governess story and is my homage to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Like Jane Eyre, it is a story of secrets and betrayals, with a governess at the center. It features a half-Irish marquess, who is determined to give his children the respectability always denied him, but he falls in love with his new governess whose birth is even more scandalous than his own.

Okay, I can't resist.  Here's a slightly naughty pic I took of Diane at Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington's house in London.  :-)

Thank you for visiting with us at Lady Scribes, Diane.  We wish you and Leo all the best!

Thank you so much for having me as your guest on Lady Scribes and giving me the chance to relive the whole Diamonds of Welbourne Manor experience!

In honor of Diane and Leo, we are having a giveaway!  Tell us, have you ever gone into a situation alone and come out with lifelong friends?  Like Leo, have you had to figure out where you fit in with friends and family?  Have you ever posted a slightly naughty picture of a friend on the internet for all the world to see?  Share with us and one randomly selected winner will win a copy of A Not So Respectable Gentleman! 


  1. Diane,
    Thank you so much for being with us today at Lady Scribes. The whole anthology sounds amazing! I absolutely LOVE the idea of writing something like this with fellow authors. Maybe some day. :-)

    When I was in grad school, one of my classmates planned a hiking trip for the class a couple of weeks into our program. Only three of us showed up, and we had so much fun. We became the best of friends that day, and later we became study partners. I've lost touch with one of the ladies, but I keep in touch with the other one. We've been friends though a lot - my wedding, her divorce and remarriage, new babies, etc. Now I'm feeling the need to call her.

    1. That's a nice story about your friend, Samantha! So nice to encounter unexpected friendship!

  2. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Diane, and thanks for sharing all of that with us. I've had the privilege of working on some anthologies with a few of the other Lady Scribes, and the process is very different from the work I do on my own. Not bad--just different. And yes, I came out of it knowing that I'd be friends with them for life. Of course, I think I went INto it knowing that, too. :)

    1. It is nice to change it up every once in a while, isn't it Catherine? We had a great time!

  3. Hi Diane - so glad to have you here with us today! I'm laughing at that 'slightly naughty' picture, lol :-) I love that you and Deb met at such a noteworthy place - you guys should totally go back some day!

  4. Hi Deb and Diane!

    This is the story about how I met my best friend and how her new husband became my husband's new best friend!

    It was in the beginning of the 1970's when my husband got out of the Navy during Vietnam we moved to Rhode Island and at the same time my soon to be best friend's 1st husband got out of the Army and they moved to Rhode Island.

    None of us knew anyone in Rhode Island, both husbands joined the Jaycees, both the wives met at a convention for the organization being held in Newport, Rhode Island. She was tall and had been part of the 1960 hippie's movement while I was short and rather staid and straitlaced. Neither of of fit in with the "local crowd" and we instantly understood each other, our warts and all.

    Both families have children and both wives work and balance being involved with children activities with working and the children grow up. One family falls apart and the other family faces hardships but survives. With tears we meet and as I watch her leave to move to South Carolina I call out that our friendship will last a lifetime and the miles that are between us will draw us closer.

    I miracle occurs and our younger son gets offered a college scholarship to The Citadel in the same town where she lives. On our first trip to see our son she invites us all over to dinner to meet her new husband. When the two men get together they instantly form a bond that they've never had with another friend before. After dinner they sit outside on the porch and contemplate the wonder they have found, the friend they have made who also served during the war, the immediate connection, the bond saying "you are my friend for a lifetime".

    The miles may part us but the connection remains intact. Somehow we know just the right time to make that phone call whether it's a time to rejoice or a time to cry. Support, understanding, and comfort given and received - true friendship.

    Thanks Dianne and Ed for being our very best friends!

    1. Aww..how lovely, Jeanne! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for the warm welcome, Lady Scribes!
    Erin, Deb could tell you that that trip first to Stratfield Saye and later to Apsley House started my love affair with the Duke of Wellington. I thought it was a great joke for him to have that crazy Canova statue of Napoleon. And didn't Deb snap the best photo of me right --um--next to him?

    1. I know, Diane! The Canova is just such a riot to begin with...and to have it in Wellington's entry hall--dry British humor at it's best!

  6. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Diane!!

    Wow! So many questions, let's see...

    After I finished my first book, I participated in the Gather.com First Chapter romance contest. It was brutal, let me just tell you. But I am so glad I did it... I didn't final or anything, but that contest is where I "met" Jerrica Knight-Catania and Amy De Trempe who were also participating. They have certainly become life long friends who I will cherish all of my days.

    Leo sounds so interesting (and I love your cover. So beautiful) but being the first born in my family, I've never had to figure out where/how I fit in. My role... Dictator...er...I mean, Ok, if you ask my siblings I'm sure they'll tell you I am a dictator. Ungrateful lot. I only tell them what to do and how to do it, to help them. They need the guidance. ;)

    I have never posted a naughty picture of a friend for all the world to see... I *did* however post an unflattering picture of Jerrica at the end of her RT blog a few months ago. She was in her natural state - iPhone right in front of her face.

    1. I'm glad you did Gather, too, because Caren found you and then we did too!

  7. That's sounds like a lot of fun. However, I haven't really ventured out alone. However, I did go on a road trip with my best friend and we both came back alive and like sisters. We still are close. I think I know where I fit into my family and friends. No, I don't have a naughty pictures and if I did they would have been burned a long time ago.

    1. Melody, I think if you can travel with somebody, you can be friends through most anything!

  8. Thanks for a fun post and it was so nice to "meetchya" :)

    I'm boring... all of my good, good friends I've had since high school and we are not brave enough to post naught pics :)

    1. We'll call it well-behaved and lady-like, erin, not boring! Clearly I could use a little more of that. :-)

  9. I used to put up a lot of pictures of my daughters and son ( ages 23, 21, and 18). They have now issued a new rule on me, they must pre-approve all posts. I guess some of them weren't their most flattering. I thought they were cute, though. Thanks!!!!

  10. Kudos to you, Shelley B, for upholding your parental duty to (slightly) embarrass your children! When my kids complain, I tell them it's part of the code! And nothing works to curb unwanted behavior like the threat to really embarrass them. I have a fiendishly active imagination, which I think scares the potootey out of my kids!

  11. I've gone to school on the first day not knowing anyone and ending up with friends later on.


  12. I have had to figure out where I fit in with friends and family, and I think I've got it down by now. I've definitely posted embarrassing pictures on the internet, that's what the internet is for, right?

  13. When I started a new job some years back, my 1st day I was on a plane flying to California (I'm from Asia). I met some pretty amazing people & till now we remain friends even though we've all gone our separate ways.


  14. I had to figure out where I stood with family and friends. It wasn't a pleasant time in my life, but I figured it out.


  15. Shelley B, you are the winner of A Not So Respectable Gentleman! Congrats!