Sunday, August 4, 2013

Intimate Portrait -- Lady Olivia

Over the course of my years writing, I find myself working on two or three stories at a time. This gives my brain a break from the tedious details one may find oneself enmeshed in in a particular plot. While working on the Not So Secret Story Project, Lady Olivia burst into my subconscious and wouldn't leave me alone. I've had her story in the back of my head for awhile now, thinking I would get to it when I finished what I'm working on now.

But she wouldn't let go and so I decided to sit down and write the opening paragraphs. Well, the opening paragraphs turned into three chapters. So I sit here with almost 7,000 words of her novella and itching to finish it. The reason, I believe, she was so insistent in the first place was that I needed to find a picture for her cover. Which meant I needed to find a picture of her.

Lady Olivia #1
Oh, I had a picture of Lady Olivia when I first started writing my stories. She was a sweet little old lady who had nothing better to do than play matchmaker for friends. But as the stories evolved, she became much sharper in my mind. I also needed to do a genealogical tree to figure out just who she was related to. As a member of the Aristocracy, everyone is eventually related to everyone else. And if that is so, then she isn't as old as I portrayed her to be.

Lady Olivia #2
So, I found this Lady Olivia. She fit the part a little better. She's a little bit younger, a little bit prettier, and I know her character from watching period dramas on the BBC. She also played Mrs. Bennett in Sense and Sensibility, so there is that. However, as much as I liked her for Lady Olivia, there was something missing. And I figured out what it was as I started writing her story. She's not sexy enough.

John Quiggins
Not that a sweet little old lady can't be sexy, but she's got to play alongside Quiggins. I had always intended for Lady Olivia and Quiggins to fall in love, as a secret backdrop to everything else that's going on in my little Regency world. And as I found Quiggins very early on, I thought him the best possible Quiggins there could be. Yes, I love Quiggins. He's the strong silent type, and very capable of making women swoon. He's also gentle, kind, and has a few secrets of his own.

Lady Olivia #1 was certainly too old. Lady Olivia #2, was the right age, but I found as I was writing this story, she's just not sexy enough. I wanted someone who could pass off the aristocratic air, yet remain a woman. Judi Dench and Helen Mirren could pass muster, but they're not soft enough for me. I needed Lady Olivia to have that touch of vulnerability, yet be tough enough to fight with the men. And I finally found her.
Lady Olivia #3 we have a winner

I think she is the perfect embodiment of Lady Olivia, heart and soul. Vulnerable, soft, sexy, yet with that face full of character. And if I do say so myself, I think she and Quiggins make a perfect match.

Lady Olivia is hands down my favorite character that I've ever written. She's tough when she needs to be, but gentle as well. She believes in doing what's right, even when it's wrong. She likes to meddle in other people's affairs, especially when it comes to love.

Having had her first husband die on her, she spent ten years of her life alone (until she met Quiggins). And during that time, she was a wreck. Sure she had her charities, what rich woman didn't. She had her friends, she had her garden. But until she met Quiggins, she didn't have love. When he appeared, it was as if a light was turned on inside her and wouldn't turn off. If she was going to be in love, then everyone else should be as well.

However, in this new story I'm writing about her, I get to tell her secret. Her one very big, very ugly secret, that if it ever came out, her whole world would be upside down and she would be cast out of Society. Oh yes, my friends, cast out. Because what Olivia did was so nasty, so heinous, so disgustingly out of character for her, people will be shocked. Shocked I tell you.

This little novella also ties up a few loose ends that have been straggling around from my other books. A few reviewers had qualms about what happens after the books end, so I decided to tie everything up in a nice neat bow before we get to the final novel in the series.


Yes, we get to know Lady Olivia's secret beforehand, but what follows in TSoMS is how it all plays out. I think it's going to be a fine ending to a very satisfying series. Well, at least I hope so.

Don't worry, Lady Olivia will certainly get her comeuppance, and Society will be shocked indeed, and I am purposely going to make you wait until the very last page to let you find out what happens to her, but just remember, I'm a romance writer. Everyone gets a happy ending.

So, what do you think of my new Lady Olivia?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


  1. I like Lady Olivia #3, she has an air of insouciance. Might be the hair piled on top of her head. Women like that seem to radiate a Katherine Hepburn type of confidence. I'm wondering if I'm thinking that because of that 'secret' you mentioned. Good luck with the rest of it.

    I've got a couple of new stories calling me too.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. It's that Katherine Hepburn look. (Which I didn't even know I was going for, so thanks.)

    Yay for new stories! Go You!

  3. Oh, yes! She's an excellent Lady Olivia. Very sexeh.

  4. I thought you might like her, Nicki. Wait until you see what happens to her in the next book!


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