Metropolitan Opera

Tracy, Leslie, and Lauren

Tracy, Leslie, and Lauren at Bookmarks

As those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know, I recently got back from a few days in New York. Among the highlights of the trip was seeing Lise Lindstrom (whose father, John Lindstrom, is on the Merola Opera Program board with me) make her Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Turandot. She gave a fabulous performance, vocally and dramatically (I had tears in my eyes at the end). It was fabulous to be part of the celebration of such an amazing achievement. I also got to spend time with my agent and editor, see a wonderful Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan Library, go shopping (great new purse and bargain lbd), and meet fellow opera enthusiasts at a Merola outreach event.

Most important, I got to stay with and hang out with my fellow author and wonderful friend Lauren Willig. For those of you who haven’t yet discovered Lauren’s books (and I know a lot of people who visit this site already have), she writes the fabulous Pink Carnation series which combines Napoleonic spies with romance and intrigue and some wonderful nods to the Scarlet Pimpernel. I’m fortunate to have a lot of great friends, but there are some things that only fellow writers understand, particularly fellow writers who write in a similar area. Lauren and I both write books about espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. We both write books that combine elements of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. We work in story arcs that span more than one book over the course of a series.

A few minutes after I walked through Lauren’s door, we were sitting on her sofa sipping wine and discussing the finer points of obscure Napoleonic intrigues, the challenges of writing books that cross genres, the delights and frustrations of primary source research, “what’s next” in both our series. We went on talking the whole trip, over brunches and dinners and cups of tea. We saw a riveting production of Hamlet with Jude Law and a great cast and talked about the Shakespearean references in both our books. We talked about Jane Austen, who plays a role in one of Lauren’s upcoming books, in light of the Morgan Library exhibit. We spent a wonderful evening of writer talk with our fellow writer and History Hoyden Leslie Carroll over drinks at the appropriately named Bookmarks in the Library Hotel (that’s the three of us in the picture above).

I came home energized and excited to get back to work (though my first evening home included a lot of playing-with-pets time). Writers, do you find it inspiring to spend time with writer friends, particular those who write books with similar subject matter or settings? Readers, does it interest you to know which writers you read happen to be friends?

Be sure to stop by the Fraser Correspondence, where I’ve just posted a letter from Simon to Mélanie.

A quick update this week, as I’m in the midst of packing for a trip to New York, where I will be seeing good friends and fellow History Hoydens Lauren Willig and Leslie Carroll, catching up with my editor and agent, seeing Lise Lindstrom (the daughter of good friends) in her Met debut as Turandot, and doing Merola Opera Program activities. I haven’t been to New York in a few years, and I’m very excited (while at the moment I’m trying to get through the long to do list I always seem to have before leaving on any trip, however brief).

The beautiful fall scenery on my mini-break to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland last week, got me to thinking about autumn as a setting for books. The book I’m working on now is set in November, as is Secrets of a Lady. I realized autumn may be my favorite season to write about. There are such rich descriptive possibilities–the colorful leaves, the rose gold autumn sunlight, harvest moonlight, skies turning gray with oncoming winter. There’s an array of weather to play with, from sunny days to rainstorms to early snow flurries. Autumn sees the start of regular fires in fireplaces (great descriptive possibilities). There’s the thematic bittersweetness of gilded autumn days with the promise of winter creeping into the air. And at the same time, the holiday season and a new year round the corner. I think the shorter days and chillier weather and oncoming winter making autumn a particularly good setting for suspense stories.

Do you have favorite seasons to read or write about? Do you find the season a book is set in influences the story?

I just posted an October addition to the Fraser Correspondence, a reply from Raoul to Mélanie.