Message From The Author

Nina Rowan

Genre: Victorian Period, England, Historical Romance

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Author's Message

Dear Reader,

When I was a child, one of my favorite things about visiting my grandmother’s house (aside from the fact that there was always ice cream in the freezer) was a little mechanical toy that she’d had for as long as I could remember. It sat on a bookshelf in the living room, somewhat bedraggled from time and use, a little soldier wearing a red jacket and a black cap with a snare drum strapped to his waist. When you turned a key at the base of the platform, the soldier would beat out a distinctive rum-pah-pah rhythm on his drum. And he never broke or “ran out of batteries” — whatever mechanics were involved, every time you turned the key, you could count on the soldier to play the drum.

I have little doubt that my love for that drumming soldier inspired me to create Granville Blake’s Museum of Automata in A Passion For Pleasure. The innovations of mechanical toys and automata since the mid-Victorian era is a fascinating trip into creativity and history, as well as the changing landscape of childhood. And while Granville’s museum is not based on any particular institution, it is among the many private museums in the Victorian era whose owners shared their collections with the public.

I particularly enjoyed creating the atmosphere of Granville’s museum as a dilapidated, former townhouse now filled with greasy machine parts, broken toys, and old wires…until you reach Clara’s room at the back of the house where she brings the toys to life with paint, ribbons, and brightly colored fabrics. I loved the idea of her sitting in quiet solitude, sewing costumes and tying satin bows while her uncle is huddled in his workshop adjusting gears and trying unsuccessfully to incorporate music into his creations.

While describing the museum, I imagined that a visitor walking through the corridors into Clara’s studio would be a bit like Dorothy traveling from the grayness of Kansas into the colorful brilliance of Oz. I also saw the journey as a metaphor for Clara and Sebastian’s lives — alone, they are both living bleak, run-down existences, but as their relationship progresses they create a rich, vivid future together filled with a new kind of music.

That is one of the best parts of writing for me — discovering that little elements of my personal history inspire ideas for my characters and setting. And while I don’t know whatever happened to my grandmother’s drumming soldier, he’ll always be a vibrant part of my own life’s museum.

Happy reading!

Nina Rowan

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