Message From The Author
Judith A. Lansdowne Swears RT To Secrecy!
Of course, we couldnt help spilling a few tidbits...
Or at least thats what shed like you to believe. When asked to describe the plot of her 10th Regency novel, LORD NIGHTINGALE'S DEBUT, the first in a four-book trilogy (Yes, a four-book trilogyblame it on her editors), Judith tells you lots of funny anecdotes and interesting tidbitsbefore telling you that you cant use them in your article. She doesnt quite swear you to secrecy, but you get the feeling that if she were less polite (or more religious) she might mutter something about swearing on the bible. At any rate theres at least a few Oh, dont tell them that. I want them to be surprised when they read it. Of course, these demands are delivered with the most infectious giggles that make it hard to hold any sort of a grudge. Its all too easy to see where the inspiration for
the humorous, slightly madcap Regency romps that she writes comes from. So what will she let us tell readers about her newest release?
Well, its the story of two families. One is normal, the other is completely split apart. And among them, there are four sets of lovers, one for each book of course. Theres also atreasure and a kidnapping, andoh, its just filled with secrets.
With any Lansdowne novel there are some things that readers can definitely rely on, though: a crowd of family members and friends providing wacky humor, a more-bumbling-than-threatening villain, and enough twists and turns to rival a Byzantine labyrinth. A quick look at some of the anonymous reader reviews posted on Amazon reveals apt descriptions of her novels, like, a silly book, but a good silly. Another writes, What I like about Lansdowne novels are that her characters are essentially happy people.
Well, all except Lord Nightingale, the centerpiece of Judiths
very first series, whom she describes as a grumpy old curmudgeon, who bites the other characters, and swings from the chandeliers.
Okay, so you may have guessed Lord Nightingale isnt exactly human. I cant tell you any more than that though or Judith will have my head. Not even that hes wicked, irreverent and the weirdest, wackiest, most mischievous matchmaker youve ever encountered. Or that he, umflies.
LORD NIGHTINGALES DEBUT is followed by Septembers Lord Nightingales Love Song, Octobers Lord Nightingales Triumph and Novembers Lord Nightingales Christmas. The irrepressible title character doesnt really meet his match in matches, so to speak, until the final book. In the three original books, youll know almost from the beginning that the heroes and heroines are fated for blissful love matches, needing only a bit of Lord Night-ingales nudging. Book four, however, is a different story. His matchmaking skills are put to the supreme test as he has to reform (begun in book two) a most nefarious villaina cowardly, inept villain to be sure, but still a villainto make him an acceptable match for the daughter of a duke.
Never fear, however, for Judith insists, In my books, everyone gets a happy ending. Theres even a mad old lady in the series who meets a mad old man by the end.
That would be the end of the fourth book of the trilogy. How exactly did that happen? I was all done, I had written my three books, tied up all the loose ends, all the plot, all the characters, when my editor called and asked me to do a Christmas book and make it the fourth in the Nightingale series. Well, I didnt have any heroes left, so I had to use
Judith rewrote nearly eight chapters of TRIUMPH, to make the fourth book, utilizing Lord Nightingales arch-enemy Neil, as the hero. Neil wasnt a terrible, awful villain, just a bumbling one. He gambled a lot, so he had to do some slightly villainous things to get back the things that he loses. Lord Nightingale hates Neil and torments him to no end."
Lord Nightingales DEBUT begins when the Earl of Wickshires recently deceased aunt leaves him her estates, on the condition that he teaches Lord Nightingale to sing. Should he fail in his task, the crafty mischief maker will go to Neil, along with the fortune! As a result, the earl hires Miss Serendipity Bedford as a singing teacher and the duo quickly begin making beautiful music together. In addition to the title character, the families in the series also have cats and dogs, although Judith admits that domestic pets werent very common in the regency period. A lady might have a cat as a pet, but thats about all and not very many did. Cats were kept as mousers and dogs were mostly workers. Judiths affection for animals shines through in her work as wellupcoming stories include two animal-oriented novellas, one titled A Cache of Kittens in the Christmas anthology STOCKING STUFFERS (Zebra, Nov. 00), and the other King Thrushbeard in Once Upon a Waltz (Zebra, Mar. 01).
Judith says she enjoyed writing the Christmas-set novels, as researching the old traditions in different areas of Great Britian turned out to be quite interesting. There was a saying Id never heard of, that If you hear a rooster crow on Christmas morning, youll be married in the next year. And then there was something called the Killing of the Wren, where they would dangle one by its feet from a pole and sell its feathers. I just thought Oooh, this is gross. That said, she trails off into another peal of irresistible giggles.
Of course, Judith is pretty accustomed to grossness. Living in an old fishing camp on the shores of Lake Guntersville, AL she has plenty of time to pursue her real careerfishing. Its so nice and quiet. We have a little half-pier and I go down and sit there and relax. Most of the time
I throw back anything I catchmainly because I dont want to clean and cook it.
Not to mention the fact that she already has about 16 fish in a tank at home, as well as dogs and cats. Judith admits she just cant say no to
an animal in need and that her home has become a boarding house over the years to all sorts of creatures. Everything injured comes to my house, she says, recounting the story of how she found her now-deceased pet turtle when her cat rescued the injured animal and dropped it on the doorstep. Theres always tons of animals around the house. Our dog is like the popular girl or the head cheerleader of the neighborhood, so all the other pets and stray animals in the neighborhood come to our yard. Thank God for humane societies, or Id have a zoo.
Its hard to reconcile Judiths woodsy lifestyle with the prim, starchy Regency society. Has Judith ever entertained the notion of a time-travel? Oh yes, Id love to do a time-travel, she exclaims, Id like to do all kinds of books, like a contemporary with a whippy, wild mood or even a regency-era horror novel. Ive noticed that since I started writing that Regencies are getting a lot more contemporary. Theres a lot more freedom these days in what you can do in a Regency. Heroines have different problems, different courses of acceptable action now.
In fact, Judith confesses that shell be trying something a
little different herself with a 110,000-word Regency-set historical
for Zebra in 2001. The language is more formal, not as much
Regency slang. Itll have more mystery, and be less traditional.
More mystery, Judith? Impossible!
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