My mother’s bookstore was where I learned to read, where I learned to write, and where I learned to take my coffee black. It’s also where I fell in love with Barbara Cartland—both her novels and her amazingly glamorous author photos. I wanted to be her when I grew up. A successful author and a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
When I discovered that she was Lady Di’s grandmother (well, step-grandmother, but still…), I was delighted. Of course a fairytale princess would have Dame Cartland for a grandmother! Now we all know that Diana’s life as a royal was anything but joyful. The desire to give a princess hounded by the paparazzi a happy ending fueled my first novel, Under the Legend. Aviation also figures prominently in that book, and I just discovered today that Cartland was an aviation pioneer. She also wrote a play that was banned because it was deemed too risqué! My own fiction is a bit darker—and sexier—than the chaste paperbacks I devoured in my mother’s bookstore, but I love thinking that this daring Dame might have approved.
I’m working hard at becoming a successful author. And I haven’t given up hope on a DBE, either.
Here’s a photo of me of the roof of the Palais Garnier,
the opera house which houses the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet. As a birthday gift two years ago, my friend treated me to a private four-hour tour that ran from the basement to the rooftop. If you ever get the chance to visit this place, go. Few places in the world have this amount of beauty, history, and emotional significance.
It was such a pleasure to find use of this magnificent setting in my next book, After Him. It’s such a short scene, but one that I can’t wait to share with you.
What settings do you love, and want to see used in a book? I’m keeping a list, and you will get full acknowledgement from me when I use your suggestion.