The Big Reveal: Sarah MacLean On Her Exciting Epilogue
Let’s get this out of the way first: MEGA SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. If you haven’t read Sarah MacLean’s latest, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (and really, what are you waiting for?) look away unless you want to find out about the BIG REVEAL in the epilogue. But if you can’t wait to hear more, read on!
We LOVED the reveal in the epilogue of No Good Duke. Did you always know that Chase was a woman, from the very first book?
Always. I knew I wanted the Scoundrels to each have been fallen aristocrats, and there are so many ways for a woman to fall in pre-Victorian London, so I knew she would be a she. And I knew she would be the most powerful of all four — the one who brought them all together. The trick was writing all her scenes without giving it away to readers!
We went back and looked at some scenes with Chase, and, indeed, you never use a pronoun! Did you do that through all three books? Was that difficult?
I did it through all three books, and I confess, I'm happy the secret is out, so I can use words like “she” and “her”! I had a very clear rule: The only time Chase is mentioned using any gendered pronoun, it's when she's referenced as “he” or “him,” and this is only allowed if that someone who does not know the truth. The Scoundrels don’t ever refer to her with pronouns — they never lie to the readers — but the heroines (and others) do — at least, until they are let in on the secret.
It wasn't easy to write Chase’s scenes, we use pronouns a lot! They definitely slowed down the writing and they absolutely slowed down the editing, because I had to be so vigilant about never referring to her as a her. I will say, though, that if you read the series again, you will find that there are some inside jokes in there for you now that you know she’s a she. All sorts of moments will read in a different way — and I had a blast writing those double meanings.
It seemed that it became far more clear in No Good Duke that Chase’s identity was a secret. Was that an intentional ratcheting up of tension, to prepare for the reveal/fourth book?
It was an intentional ratcheting, though there are a few small moments where her secret identity is mentioned during the earlier books. I’ve known the Chase reveal would happen in book three from the beginning of the series, but I also knew (as a romance reader) that once it got out that Chase’s secret was A SECRET, readers would start hunting for the truth. There are a number of red herrings in the series (male and female) designed to throw close readers off the scent and to get them thinking “Who Is Chase?” All I can say is, her being female isn’t the only secret for readers. Her actual identity will be another (I hope good!) surprise!
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