with my editor Audrey LaFehr and my agent Nancy Yost

Happy New Year! Hope everyone is having a wonderful New Year’s weekend. I’m very happy to report that I am seeing the 2010 in with a new two-book contract with Kensington Books. That’s my wonderful new editor Audrey LaFehr in the picture above, with me and my fabulous agent Nancy Yost on my November trip to New York at a Merola Opera Program party.

I’m in the midst of writing the first book on the contract, which has the working title The Dark Waltz. Those of you who follow my status updates on Twitter and Facebook have been seeing updates about the progress of this book for some time. The Dark Waltz is set at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. I’ve been writing background for the book in the Fraser Correspondence as well. In essence it’s the story of Charles and Mélanie’s adventures at the Congress. You may recall mentions of their time at the Congress of Vienna in both Secrets of a Lady and Beneath a Silent Moon (including references to a murder Charles investigated in Vienna). In The Dark Waltz, they are called Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch, rather than Mélanie and Charles Fraser. However readers familiar with the series will easily be able to recognize parallels between them and several of the other characters. I’ll also be writing under a slightly different name, Teresa Grant rather than Tracy (but since Tracy is a nickname for Teresa, I can still be Tracy in my online persona).

I’ve wanted to set a book at the Congress of Vienna for ages. It offers such rich scope for a novelist. After Napoleon was exiled to Elba, representatives of countries across Europe gathered in Vienna to redraw the Continental map. There was a great deal of intriguing, both political and romantic. The Congress was a very glamorous event with masquerade balls, balloon ascensions, sleigh rides, a recreation of a medieval tournament, and scores of illicit love affairs. The Austrians tried to slip agents into the foreign delegations as scullery maids and bootboys and everyone was combing through diplomatic wastebaskets looking for coded papers.

The Dark Waltz
centers on the murder of a scandalous Russian princess. The hero (a British diplomatic attaché) and the heroine (his wife), are drawn into investigating. Among the suspects are a number of real historical people, including the unhappy Tsarina Elisabeth of Russia; the idealistic Polish Prince Adam Czartoryski who is her former lover; the wily French Foreign Minister Prince Talleyrand and his beautiful young niece-by-marriage Dorothée with whom he may be falling in love; the handsome, arrogant Tsar Alexander; the brilliant Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Metternich; the Duchess of Sagan and Princess Catherine Bagration, both of whom are romantically involved with both the Tsar and Metternich, as the (fictional) murder victim also was.

I’m having a wonderful time writing the book, weaving together real people and events with fictional ones, and exploring the early days of the marriage of my two favorite characters. I’ve learned some new things about them in the process, which I think will intrigue readers. As to The Mask of Night, it may be the second book on my two-book contract, which would be wonderful, but that isn’t decided yet.

Here’s a new video clip where I talk a bit more about The Dark Waltz:

I’d love to answer any questions about The Dark Waltz. Watch for more video clips and excerpts in the future. And be sure to check out David’s 1813 New Year letter to Charles in the Fraser Correspondence.