Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guest Post: Author Sarah Zettel

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . . History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.
People love to ask where authors get their ideas from. Authors, on the other hand, hate that question. It’s not that we’re being coy, or snobby. It’s just that it’s almost impossible to answer, because ideas can come from anywhere, and nowhere. 
Palace of Spies is a perfect example. I never planned to write this series, and if the Borders book chain hadn’t gone out of business, I probably wouldn’t have. 
The adventures of Peggy Fitzroy, counterfeit maid of honor, are set in the court of King George I of England, a place and time about which I knew next to nothing, and the inspiration came to me during
a busy time. I was writing a mystery combining vampires and fine dining in New York City, and I had just started on my first ever YA series which brought fairies to the Dust Bowl, and I was also committed to write a set of paranormal romances. So mentally, I was a very long way from eighteenth century England, and was really short on time.
But then, as I say, Borders Book & Music shut down.
I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is (was) Borders’s home town. When the end came, we had three Borders to close down, and all of them had one of those Going Out of Business sales where the
books get progressively cheaper as time goes on. I told myself I wasn’t going to go. I don’t like that
kind of shopping. Yes, you get bargains, but it feels ghoulish. I’d loved Borders for a long time. I
remember when it was a single high-end store where you had to be able to pass a literature test to get a job and walk two blocks away to find a coffee. I wasn’t going to go pick over its bones.
That resolution lasted probably five minutes. The lure of cheap books was too strong. I did go, and not just to one of the sales — I went to all of them as they cascaded across town, and I bought a lot
of books.
One of those books was Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsely. I grabbed it because I’m interested in English history in general and it was a pretty book. It went onto my TBR pile, and sat there until impulse took hold again, and I cracked it open to see just what it was I’d bought.
Yes, I am that kind of person. I buy books I don’t have time to read, about which I know nothing, and I do it simply because they look kinda cool. It’s a problem. I admit it.
It turned out what I’d bought was a history of Kensington Palace, and the court of George I. Usually, the Georges we hear about are George III (because of the Revolution) and George IV (because of Jane Austen and the Regency). George V, father of the current Queen Elizabeth, has been in the spotlight a little lately because of the Colin Firth movie. But Georges I and II? They didn’t do anything interesting.
Except, they did. This was a story of infidelity, intrigue, spying, debt, indiscretion, personal foibles, and a quarrel between royal father and son that resulted in the Prince of Wales getting chucked out into the street and his children being held hostage by their royal grandfather. George I, by the way, also had his wife locked up because of her infidelity, and then proceeded to live openly with his mistress and their 3 daughters for the rest of his life. There were assassination attempts, a kidnapping plot by royal minsters, and that’s not to mention the fact that there was a rival royal family over in France who spent three generations scheming to try to take back the British Throne.
By the time I closed that book, I had a new story. All I had to do was get the words on paper and in the right order.
So, where do I get my ideas from? Dead bookstores and dead kings. Where do you get yours?
About the Author:
Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback in 2009. Her latest novel, Dust Girl, was named as one of the best young adult books of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association. Zettel lives in Michigan with her husband, her rapidly growing son, and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails