July 1, 2006
Ok, I admit it. I am an appallingly bad
correspondent. It's been six months since I posted a newsletter.
I have a really good excuse, though. One that totally blows that
homework-eating dog away...I've finished a book!
It's called The Winter Rose and it's the second novel in
what will be The Tea Rose trilogy. I'm really excited about
the book. I love the new characters and I hope that you will, too.
The Winter Rose follows the story of Fiona's blacksheep
brother Charlie and a young woman with whom he falls in love. Oh,
stop clutching the pearls! Of course Fiona and Joe are still in
the story. Seamie, too. But center stage goes to India Selwyn Jones,
a young doctor newly graduated from the London School of Medicine
The story begins in London in the summer of 1900. It has been twelve
years since a dark, murderous figure stalked the alleys and courts
of Whitechapel. Time has passed, places and people have changed.
And yet, East London is still poor, still brutal, still a shadow
city to its western twin. Poverty and disease haunt the streets
where Jack the Ripper's footsteps once echoed, crime flourishes,
and violent gangs fight for territory.
And yet, even in this outcast city, there is hope.
Reformers, moved by the plight of the poor, work to better their
conditions. Among them is an idealistic young woman named India
Selwyn-Jones. Newly graduated from medical school, India joins a
practice in Whitechapel and tends to its people. With the help of
her influential fiance – Freddie Lytton, an up-and-coming
Liberal MP – she works to shut down the area's opium dens
that destroy both body and soul.
Scarred as a child by seeing her father's mineworkers and their
children suffer the effects of black lung and tuberculosis, India
vows to help working people. Her selfless activities better her
patients' lives and bring her immense gratification.
Unfortunately, they also bring her into direct conflict with East
London's ruling crime lord – Sid Malone.
Malone, as readers of The Tea Rose will remember, is Fiona
Finnegan's lost brother. Born Charlie Finnegan, he was separated
from his family after his mother was murdered, and survived the
hard streets of East London by becoming a criminal.
India is not good for business and at first, Malone wants her out.
But when he sees what she is doing for people, his anger turns to
admiration and he tolerates her presence. He finds himself to drawn
to her – for her compassion and dedication. And she to him,
for she senses there is goodness in him, and he reminds her greatly
of someone she was very close to a long time ago.
Hmmm? Any ideas what happens next? Well, you'll just have to read
the book to see if you're right.
The Winter Rose will be published this fall by HarperCollins
in the UK. Hyperion is publishing the book in the US in the Spring
of '07. As soon as I have the actual publication dates, I'll post
them in the Calendar section. Until then, you can get a peek at
the British cover by visiting Amazon- U.K.(www.amazon.co.uk).
Every book I write teaches me so much and The Winter Rose did, too. The book required a ton of research, all of it fascinating.
Early 20th century medicine. Obstetrics. Politics. Crime. If there
was no such thing as a deadline, I'd still be researching. I read
a lot on some eminent Victorians. Lord Salisbury, the Conservative
Prime Minister. His nephew, A.J. Balfour, another Conservative PM.
George Curzon, the Viceroy of India. Winston Churchill, who wasn't
eminent yet, but was certainly fascinating. I was astonished by
the energy of these men. Envious of their productivity. They ran
countries. Wrote verse. Wrote books. Gave speeches. Painted. Gardened.
Traveled. I read on, determined to find out how they did it. Hoping
I could apply the lessons to my own life.
And finally, I did find out. It's simple really. Here's the secret:
All you need is immense inherited wealth, a devoted wife, and a
battalion of servants.
If you have these things, you can work from your bed. As Churchill
and Balfour often did, refusing to rise before noon. It conserved
energy, you see. Tea was brought. Secretaries took dictation. Letters,
speeches and books got written this way.
I'm now busily trying to figure out how I can get this gig. The
Victorians were right about many things. Maybe this is one of them.
Maybe I'd get more done if I lolled in bed with tea and toast, instead
of jumping out of it at 6:00 a.m. to hit the treadmill. Maybe I'd
get my next book written faster. I think I might try it. I don't
have a secretary, but I do have a laptop. I don't have any servants,
but hey, Daisy's old enough to butter toast.
And if I succeed, then at the very least I'll be able to update
my newsletter more frequently.