Thursday, 17 July 2008

DAY THREE— and an apology!

OK, so technically I’m not posting this on Day Three at all. Day Three turned out to be one of those days that makes you feel by about lunchtime like your head is in danger of exploding, and the only way of averting this would be a week in a spa in the Maldives with James D’Arcy/Henry Cavill/Just about anyone who isn’t a blood relative. Day Three began at 5.30am and finished sometime in the early hours, and involved a school trip (daughter #3 and me as a helper) a party, and the provision of cakes for 28 children (daughter #2 and class), a swimming lesson (daughter #3), and a last minute present crisis (daughter #1, with a long and anguished saga involving the leaving present she’s in charge of organising for her form tutor.) Luckily though, at the end of it all was lovely Francesco. (Which we collapsed to watch at about midnight, thanks to the wonders of digital recording...)

ANYWAY, this is all a rather long and rambling way of apologising for the fact that I didn’t manage yesterday’s post. Here, a day late, is a little bit of background about the setting of Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure, (which is already available on Amazon!) and today’s question.

It was quite an indulgence writing a book that was set predominantly in England, and as most of it takes place in the depths of winter it was also a lovely change. I loved researching the settings for my previous books— Florence and Venice, and the sun-drenched south of France, but the contrast in the location alone made this book feel very different right from the outset. Easton Hall, Orlando Winterton’s grand ancestral home, is an important presence within the book, and is almost a symbolic extension of Orlando himself. When Rachel arrives there she is daunted by its size, and puzzled by the darkness and air of melancholy that fills its vast rooms, but gradually, during the brief time she spends there she makes her mark on the house and its wild grounds, revealing long-hidden secrets and starting to feel at home.

The inspiration for the house was Dunham Massey, a beautiful property in Cheshire owned by the National Trust. Easton Hall isn’t an exact likeness, but my favourite part of Dunham is the inner courtyard, around which the four wings of the house are built, and this found its way into the book as the setting for one significant snowy scene.
However, a Presents novel wouldn’t be complete without some exotic and luxurious travel. Easton is Orlando’s sanctuary, but in some ways it’s also his prison, and by moving the action to another location I was able to move the relationship between the characters on too and bring to the fore the unresolved issues between them. That gave me the excuse for a very indulgent afternoon spent doing in-depth research into the luxury hotels of Paris. To my mind, the spectacular Hotel Crillion.was the top choice...

(Now I'm going to give myself ten minutes to look at the website and dream of Orlando before getting back to work! It's my reward for the stresses of yesterday...)
Today's question: What is the name of Orlando's ancestral home?
Thanks to those of you who are sending answers every day. Just as a reminder, the closing date for answers to all four questions is 3rd August!


Natasha Oakley said...

Ah, yes .... Francesco. India, go see my blog. I've made an important discovery. I feel a research trip coming on!

And your book arrived 5 minutes ago. Makes having a bath in preparation for the library talk I'm giving this evening a WHOLE lot more appealing.

Michelle Styles said...

Yes, I thought of you while watching Francesco.
The captain continues to be ..well the captain.
But is a half hour enough?

India said...

Ooooh, well done for finding charter details Natasha! I'm sure we can easily find 10 people to come on our little research trip-- and possibly a few more. (I certainly don't mind squeezing into the captain's quarters if space is tight...) So, when can we go?!

I'm very impressed that you're having a bath in preparation for your library talk. I turned up at mine looking very scruffy, but did take brownies to try to divert attention from that. (I think that might have worked for the first four and half minutes.) I so hope you enjoy the book!

Michelle, you mustn't think of me while watching Francesco, you must focus your full attention on Fancesco. And the captain, of course. Did you love the bit in the chapel when his alpha facade cracked a little and allowed a glimmer of emotion to show through? Yum. (I must confess I was thinking of you too. A pirate book... please??)

India said...

And no. Half an hour is not nearly enough.

(Two weeks would be much better. Actually on the boat...)

Natasha Oakley said...

India, you took brownies?????????!?! Darn it! Didn't think of that.

Karen said...

Hi India
I looked at the price on hiring The Black Swan. Could I afford 42,000 euro's? The only way I could, would be to swab the decks of that gorgeous schooner, for the next 10 years. I would do it, anything for Captain Guillo!
xx Karen

Natasha Oakley said...

I know, Karen. What's that £35K ish.

I've now finished 'Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure' and it's brilliant. Orlando is gorgeous.