We’re doing reader questions this month, and MP Vadel wrote:
So, the Vespiary series. I have absolutely delighted in the development of this series, and even more so, in how the Lady Julia series and this new series have been woven together. Was this something that naturally happened once you thought about writing about another time period, or was it simply once you sat down and started writing you saw the opportunity? Basically, I’m extremely devoted to all the fictional characters you’ve written and how you’ve fleshed them out. I’m assuming you know a lot more about them then I do, and I just want to know when I might find out a bit more about them all!
If you haven’t read all of the Lady Julia projects–especially the novellas–and the 1920s books, you might want to skip this response because of possible spoilers.
Initially, there was no plan whatsoever to tie the 1920s books to Julia’s world. I wrote A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS because my publisher wanted me to take a break from the Grey-Brisbane series. My assumption was that it would be a one book break and then I’d go straight back to the series. My publisher decided they preferred another 1920s book, so I developed CITY OF JASMINE, and while I was doing so, I hit upon the idea of tying it very loosely to SPEAR. (The prequel novella, WHISPER OF JASMINE has the heroine of SPEAR introducing the main protagonists of CITY.)
And as soon as I figured out how to tie JASMINE and SPEAR together, I realized how simple it would be to add in connections to Julia’s world. While she is firmly Victorian, she is only thirty years removed from the action of the post-World War I books. Characters older than Julia would be gone, but her contemporaries could still be alive and–more significantly for the action of the 1920s books–the younger generation would now be in charge. This was also about the time I started writing the Julia novellas, and I realized it gave me the opportunity to work both ways in time. Grown characters in the 1920s books–like Quentin Harkness–could be shown as children while March grandchildren could be present when the Vespiary was first being founded. My original plan was to write four Vespiary novels with the last one completely tying in the fate of the older Grey-Brisbane characters and bringing both series to a formal conclusion. I also planned to include a main character who descended from THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST’s Theodora Lestrange, connecting her grandchild to the grandchildren of Earl March, thereby weaving all of my books into a single world. I would have dearly loved to have finished this before leaving my publisher, but they declined, so we don’t have quite as much closure as I would have liked. Happily, NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS (Oct. 2014)–my next Vespiary novel–and BONFIRE NIGHT (Nov. 2014)–the last Lady Julia novella, will answer a lot of questions and tie some loose ends!