Today is The Second Duchess‘s publication day in the UK—congratulations to Barbara, Alfonso, Lucrezia, Maria Granmammelli (yes, it means what you think it means), the beagle puppies and the whole cast of characters I love so much. I’m very excited, and I also love this version of the cover.
Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped The Second Duchess on her journey around the world!
My next book, which is scheduled for the first half of 2014, has had a working title of The Alchemist Prince, because it is set in the court of Francesco I de’ Medici, historically known to have been obsessed with alchemy. However, my US publishers asked for a different title, and after considering dozens of possibilities, we came up with The Red Lily Crown.
The red lily—a red fleur-de-lys—has been the heraldic symbol of Florence since the 1200s, and still is. When Cosimo I de’ Medici (Francesco’s father) managed to coax (or bribe) the pope into creating him the grand duke of Tuscany, he had the most outrageous crown made for himself, with a huge red fleur-de-lys in the front and seven red lilies around the rays, crammed in among all the jewels. At right is a portrait of him wearing it.
The crown with its red lilies is a symbol of ducal power in Florence, and really, that’s what everyone in the story is either angling for or struggling against. The word “red” evokes passion, fire and blood, and the story has a lot of all three. So The Red Lily Crown really does fit the book.
However, at the moment it does look as if the book is going to remain The Alchemist Prince in the UK, and that’s great, too, because Francesco, with his dark sadness, his malevolence, his vengefulness and his power, is not exactly the hero (or even really an anti-hero), but he is certainly the primary moving force of the story. I just want everyone to know that it’s the same book with two different titles!
The mass-market edition of The Flower Reader is being released today in the UK. Thrilling adventure, high romance, and exquisite flowers—it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! If you’re in the UK, check Tesco or W.H. Smith’s, or order online.
Cressie says, “It’s delicious for reading in bed. If your ears are long enough (like mine), it’s perfect for ear-draping. I give it five cookies. No, six! Maybe seven? Please?”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Last Monday night, the world lost one of the bravest women I’ve ever been privileged to know.
Margaret Frazer’s double-Edgar-nominated Sister (later Dame) Frevisse books were my introduction to historical mysteries. Margaret, whose real name was Gail, was prolific, funny, strong, generous, and heartstoppingly gallant—she fought her great enemy cancer for twenty years and wrote twenty-five novels and a baker’s dozen of short stories while she was doing it. With one hand tied behind her back. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.)
I remember a long thread on the Crime Thru Time email group when Gail was trying to figure out the title for her book The Sempster’s Tale. It was the world of the historical fiction writer in microcosm—“sempster” was the word that would have been used at the time of the story, but would readers understand? Should she change it to “sempstress”? “Seamstress”? In the end she stuck with “sempster,” because she was fiercely dedicated to historical accuracy. And you know, that one word, I think, set the tone for the book and the story.
Vale, Gail. May they have an endless, endless library on the far side of the universe.
Margaret Frazer’s website, with a complete list of her wonderful books and short stories, is at www.margaretfrazer.com.
Tomorrow (January 21st) is the Feast of St. Agnes, so today, well, today is the Eve of St. Agnes, and tonight is the night you can see (according to the old legends, anyway) the person you are going to marry.
Don’t forget I have a free short story called The Eve of Saint Agnes, set in the world of The Flower Reader, which originally ran in the Scottish magazine My Weekly. It’s a PDF file for downloading:
Enjoy, and may you see your heart’s desire in your dreams tonight.