Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Queen is Dead! Long Live the Queen!

Undoubtedly there will be more news as I get the details, but I am DELIGHTED to announce that I have just accepted a terrific three-book offer from Random House for a historical fiction trilogy on the life of Marie Antoinette.

Although I got my exercise at the gym already today, I have been doing the proverbial "happy dance" since I heard the news, and shared a bottle of Prosecco with my agent this afternoon because I just had to give myself a couple of hours off from researching my nonfiction wip ROYAL PAINS, to digest the incredible news!

The first book, tentatively titled BECOMING is about Antoinette's early years, from the day she learns, as a ten-year-old girl, that her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, has opened negotiations to marry her to Louis-Auguste the dauphin of France -- heir to his grandfather Louis XV's throne. The first novel will end on the day she becomes queen of France.

I know exactly what time period each of the other two novels in the trilogy will span but I prefer to keep that to myself for the moment.

The only other information I have about this marvelous Random House contract is that this fresh start will necessitate a new pen name for my historical fiction (I will continue to write my nonfiction ROYAL series for NAL under my own name).

So, Amanda Elyot, who wrote 4 historical novels, and who was described by Publishers Weekly as "the queen of historical romance" [though she really wrote historical fiction, and there is a difference] has been officially declared dead. I loved her very much and I will miss her. For closure, I wrote an epitaph at the Northshire Bookstore's Halloween party last Saturday night up in Manchester, VT.

She lived to write another day ... but under another name.

"What's in a name?" asked the greatest writer in the English language. We'll find out. Right now my choice of surname is "Grey" -- it has royal overtones and "Leslie" is Celtic for "from the grey fortress, so it's my little personal inside joke.

As for potential first names, I'm becoming fond of (alphabetically) Annabel, Diana, Emily, Juliet, Olivia, and Vivien.

Feel free to weigh in! I welcome your suggestions.


Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

Although I am already very much aware of this super exciting news, I'm glad to see that I also get to be the first to congratulate you officially here on your blog! I am so proud of you Leslie, and SO happy that, while Amanda is dead, she will be resurrected as a Ms. Grey!!

I can't wait to read this exciting series! Finally, Marie Antoinette's story will be done right in historical fiction!

Leslie Carroll said...

Thank you, Allie!!

Perhaps you will interview Ms. Grey when the time comes for the first of the trilogy to be released!

I just learned something tonight. I was running my list of potential first names past my mother and she told me that she almost named me Juliet. So maybe that's an omen that I should use it. (or not!) I have a friend who is fond of "Annabel Grey," but my parents think it sounds like an "old lady" name. I think it sounds like Edgar Allen Poe. in any case the first names I have as semifinalists are either literary homages or an homage to one of my all-time favorite actresses, Vivien Leigh.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That's weird - I had the same Poe reaction to Anabel Grey.

Congratulations on the contract. That's truly marvelous news.

For all of us. Because now we get to read this. I'm excited - you really upped my interest in Marie Antoinette with your post the other day.

While this is a bit of a tangent, have you read the Antonin Careme biography that came out recently - it is very luxurious atmospheric reading, if a bit later in context.

Leslie Carroll said...

Jen, I would love to read the Careme bio; I think it would be so useful, especially for the later books in the trilogy. Who is the author? Or should I go on Amazon and look it up?

Anonymous said...

Let me chime in with enthusiastic congratulations as well. And may I be the third to say that Annabel Grey sounds rather poe-etic.

I love the name Vivien, but then, I just love Vivien Leigh. I could watch her movies for hours. She was British! Olivia is very nice, too.

Whatever you pick, I'm sure it will fit you well. RIP Amanda. Vive Annabel/Juliet/Olivia/Vivien...

Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks so much, Christine! Every time I think I settle on a name, one of the others seems to tug at my sleeve. And then maybe there's a name I haven't thought of at all! I could be missing something wonderful, here.

That's why I'm throwing the naming open to suggestions.

I was really gung-ho about Vivien (and so was Irene and several other people) when Juliet popped into my head. Now she likes that better. She thinks Vivien is "too poised." We played a sort of parlor game at her office this afternoon where we'd toss out a name to pair with Grey and then decide what sort of person would have that name -- what sort of aura it conveyed in a knee-jerk reaction.

And Juliet seemed like the ticket until I mentioned Annabel to a friend who is already a huge Poe fan and he said that he preferred Annabel Grey to Juliet Grey. His opinion was that Juliet was ordinary, while Annabel was really special. Irene's opinion was that Juliet really popped and the other contenders weren't cutting it; either too faux-sounding, too "old", too something.

Olivia Grey (though it has 4 syllables rather than 3) ain't bad either.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you need to have three names! Annabel Olivia Lee (hey! that's AOL!). Or Vivien Annabel Lee. Or combine Juliet and Olivia into Jolie.

OK, clearly it's late and my thinking process is getting muddled...

Leslie Carroll said...

If you want to make my book cover the size of an encyclopedia, or illustrated children's book, I'll leave the triple-barrelled names to you, Christine. :)

What was the OMG name you came up with earlier this afternoon? That totally cracked me up.

My cousin Laurie (she's my mother's 1st cousin) and her large family, including the dogs, all voted for Olivia.

The more opinions I get, the more confused I get. After all, I'm a Libra and will dither over a decision forever, until that moment I -- bang! -- make up my mind and then there's no turning back.

So stay tuned for (eventually) "it's X Grey," followed by a "thanks for playing; here's a version of the game to play at home; Now get over it."

Just kidding!!

If I didn't want feedback I never would have thrown all these names out there to see how they land on people's ears. I wish I could see them all on a faux book cover because with a visual the choice might be clearer.

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

This is soooo exciting Leslie!!! I am so happy for you and I can't wait to read them - I know they're going to be fabulous and I can never get too much of Marie Antoinette!

Congratulations and I'm doing the happy dance for you!

Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks, Amy! Gear up for a blog tour ... when the first book gets published! The book will be published by the same imprint at Random House that publishes Alison Weir and C.W. Gortner! I am SO excited.

Meghan said...

Just popped over from Amy's blog to say congratulations and I look forward to reading the new trilogy! It must be fun choosing a new pen name; I'd have trouble deciding but I'm sure the possibilities would be endless. I love the choice Annabel Grey for some reason. It's very memorable.

Anonymous said...

I believe OMG was Olivia Marie Grey. :)

Marie Burton said...

wooo wooo HOO
That second image there of Marie, I have that image on a necklace of mine.. my FAVORITE necklace indeed!!
So excited... looking forward to your work!
And big congrats to YOU!

Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks, Meghan! Please stop by and visit more often from now on! And Annabel Grey is really starting to resonate with me, too.

Marie, thank you so much! I hadn't even seen the 2nd portrait of MA until last night when I was writing the blog post.

I will certainly keep all my Round Table blogger babes in the loop as things progress.

Christine -- girlfriend, how would I get through the day without your sense of humor popping up on my screen? That is actually a serious question!

dolleygurl said...

Congrats Leslie, that is SO exciting! I have always been interested in Marie Antoinette but haven't really read anything about her, it's odd how things happen that way. Anyway, I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Also, in terms of names, I have always been partial to the name Annabelle (spelled slightly different). It also sounds nice to the ear when paired with Grey.


Leslie Carroll said...

Heather, I'm seeing lots of interest in Annabel (no matter the spelling). She's growing on me. Yet my history hoyden blogleagues (is that my new word for colleagues on a blog??) are all plumping for Olivia.

I'm so confused!!!

The Tome Traveller said...

Congratulations! Such exciting news! I can't wait to read it (I really love a good series)!


Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks so much, Carey! (BTW, Leanna Renee Hieber sings your praises, fortissimo!)

In the meantime, while we're waiting for the historical fiction trilogy to be written and published, are you interested in receiving a review copy of my second nonfiction release, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire? (NAL: January 5, 2010)

Please email me with your contact information, if you're interested, and I will pass it to Kathryn Tumen, my publicist extraordinaire over at NAL.

Lauren said...

I like the idea that you could have been a Juliette! Juliette Grey, but I have to say Olivia Grey is pretty...

Paris Atelier said...

Oh my goodness! Congratulations! I can't wait to read them! :)
Good luck!

Leslie Carroll said...

Judith, thanks so much!! And welcome! Please visit me here anytime.

If you're interested in NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES as well (lots of royal French marriages profiled including Marie Antoinette & Louis,and Napoleon's 2 marriages.

Leslie Carroll said...

Hi, Lauren!!

As much as I like the names Olivia and Annabel, if I choose Juliet instead (using the English spelling, rather than the slightly longer French one, though that's so pretty, too), my decision will also be affected by some parental guilt, which as many of us know can be a pretty powerful thing. :)

Ms. Lucy said...

This is soooo fantastic!!! Congratulations! I know it will be wonderful. I just a dore French history and espeically la Reine martyre. And- imagine- a series - YAY!!

Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks for your congratulations and your support, Lucy! It means a lot to me.

I love the phrase "La reine martyre," by the way!

Beth F said...

Woo Hoo!!!!!!

Bearded Lady said...

Congratulations! I have always loved the name Vivien but my husband says I pick awful names so it might just be another old lady name.

Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks, Carlyn! I love the name Vivien and in fact it was my first choice ... until my fellow history hoyden Pam Rosenthal (who has Disraeli as a character in her novel, "The Edge of Impropriety") pointed out that Vivian Grey (though the spelling is different by a vowel) was the title of Benjamin Disraeli's debut novel. It wasn't intentional, because I didn't Google the name to see if anyone else was using it until I got serious about using it myself.

So I picked one of the other names. And wouldn't you know it, but my editors want me to keep the new pseudonym under wraps for now!

I'm hoping to be able to peek out of the pen name closet at some point! :)