Inspiration–and love–can strike in the most unusual places. The authors of the newly released AN ENCOUNTER AT THE MUSEUM–Claudia Dain, Deb Marlowe, Michelle Marcos, and Ava Stone–share what inspired them to write unforgettable tales of romance blossoming amid the treasures of the British Museum.
How easy is it to be inspired by the British Museum? There is a story in every book, piece of art, and artifact. Actually there is a story for every person who gazes upon every book, art and artifact, isn’t there, because we all have such personal reactions to such pieces. In writing “An Unexpected Encounter,” I chose the Grand Staircase as the location for my Encounter. I’d done some research and found some lovely period pictures of the museum, but I was struck not only by the grandeur of the wide main Staircase, with its painted ceiling and changing exhibits along the walls and on the landing (hello, have you seen the pictures of the stuffed giraffes?!) but by the thought of the anticipation and pleasure that so many people must have felt in climbing those stairs. And then my writer brain went “What If?” What if the anticipation faded and the pleasure never materialized? And just like that, Lisbeth Moreton was born, a girl disappointed when she is stood up for the most important encounter of her life. Instead of meeting her would-be swain, though, she runs into a girl…and her guardian…and the path to an entirely new sort of pleasure is opened up. And yes, the giraffes play a part, too. 🙂
I have actually been to the British Museum! How amazing is that? I wandered the portrait gallery and drank in every ancient face, every brush stroke, soaking it all in. It was heaven. And then I set “A Chance Encounter” in the Reading Room. I’ve never seen the Reading Room. Ah, well. Not every plan is perfect. I set my story in the Reading Room because I know that if I had lived in 1804, that’s where I would have gone every chance I had. Libraries are still my favorite rooms on earth and the British Museum Reading Room is the king of all library experiences. Books, books, and more books, good light, a solid and wide table to spread my treasures about me, the hum of humanity dulled to a murmur, yet still to be among humanity! That adds to the pleasure. A new face, brief eye contact with a stranger, perhaps a whispered conversation of a sentence or two that blossoms into a seductively romantic and highly dangerous connection that blows everything safe and expected into dust. That is exactly what happens to Elizabeth when she happens to share a table in the Reading Room with Jamie. Who says reading is a solitary activity?
My inspiration for “Bad Luck Encounter” came from a Spanish TV commercial. Thaaat’s right. Between my mother’s favorite telenovelas there’s a commercial for Allstate featuring a sophisticated, well-dressed gentleman who introduces himself this way: “Soy la Mala Suerte” (I am Bad Luck). He’s devastatingly charming, sports a wicked smirk, and he makes “accidents” happen upon unsuspecting people. On one level, I thought there’s a guy I wouldn’t want to be entangled by–and yet, on another level, the thought of tangling with him was kind of intriguing. So I decided to give plain-faced spinster Isha Elmwood the dubious fortune of colliding with Mr. Bad Luck. Even though she can’t see a thing without her spectacles, Isha is the only one who can see him. And she has to try to stop him before he ruins her sister’s chances of finding a husband too. But how does one stop Bad Luck? The British Museum has a wealth of knowledge on many subjects, but this is one quest that will take more digging. No fair telling the surprise ending!
Though I haven’t been to the British Museum, I have spent many hours researching some of the items lining those hallowed walls. And on my next trip to London, you can rest assured that I’ll be there first one morning as soon as they open their doors, ready to spend an entire day browsing one exhibit after another. Museums are such special places to visit. Depending on the room you’re in, you can get up close and personal with ancient relics, breathtaking artwork, or walls upon walls of research. In short, an excursion to a museum is the fastest way to transport yourself to another time and another place. It’s an escape from everyday life. And in “An Encounter with an Adventurer,” an escape from her less than harmonious life is exactly what Miss Lucinda Potts is wishing for when she stumbles upon a well-traveled rogue while gazing up at one of the museum’s famed marbles. Before Lucy knows what happens, a suggestion from the dangerous gentleman tempts her to throw caution to the wind and do more than simply dream about an escape.
What is the most unusual place you ever went on a date or fell in love? Where in the world are you most inspired? One lucky commenter will receive a free e-copy of AN ENCOUNTER AT THE MUSEUM for their favorite device or computer.
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