Though there are still two books yet to come out in the Codebreakers Series, they’re both already written and turned in…which means it was time for me to begin thinking of what’s coming next. =) After conferring with my editors (i.e. sending in a list of a dozen ideas and seeing which one they liked best), we decided it would be fun to leave behind the world of the Great War and go back to the earlier 1900s. Return to the world of aristocracy and the upstairs/downstairs feel. But of course, deliver some super fun romance and mystery.
I absolutely love that the team went for this idea. And I’ll tell you why.
When The Number of Love
came out, my first order of business was packing up the pre-orders that had come in through my store. I had a ton of them, and as I signed books and affixed labels, I was entertaining myself by counting the number of people who had the same name. I had no fewer than four variations on Emily and something like six Elizabeths. At one point as I tackled one of those, I said to myself, “Oh, look. Another Elizabeth.”
The words stuck in my head all day. I knew there was a story there, but I wasn’t sure what it was. It would make a fun title, I thought. But I didn’t know what the concept would be…at first. A day or two later, however, I was out on our giant swing set, and the story began to trickle into my head.
A girl shows up at a new apartment. When she signs the lease, the landlady greets her with, “Oh, another Elizabeth, is it? Hope you’re more dependable than the last one. She left me high and dry…” Our Elizabeth thinks nothing of it, at first. But then she begins to find things in her new home, left there by the previous owner. Mysterious things. Made all the more mysterious when people keep knocking on her door, saying, “Elizabeth?” and then foisting more mysterious articles into her hands when she confirms that she is indeed Elizabeth. Baffling…until the first Elizabeth’s brother shows up, concerned for his sister and shocked when she doesn’t open the door. This would be our hero, of course.
That was the basic concept that I pitched to Bethany House. They were very enthusiastic–though they did instruct me to come up with a title that conveyed the nobility angle more. For about a week I cast around, looking for good locations, different titles, and specific plots and characters, before sending them an official proposal. I decided on the Isles of Scilly
off the coast of Cornwall as a setting, and as I dug into the history of this island chain, other plot elements just fell right into place–you know, legends, pirates’ treasure, and an abundance of unique flora and fauna. So I’m now thrilled to announce the first book:
1908 – Lady Elizabeth “Libby” Sinclair, with her
love of microscopes and nature, isn’t exactly a hit in society. She flees to
the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer…and stumbles into the dangerous
secrets left behind by her holiday cottage’s former occupant, also called
Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.
Oliver Tremayne—gentleman and clergyman—is determined to
discover what happened to his sister, and he’s happy to accept the help of the
girl now living in what should have been Beth’s summer cottage…especially when
he realizes it’s the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who
shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far
more than nature walks, and he can’t quite believe all the secrets Beth had
been keeping from him.
As the two work together, along with Libby’s maid, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most
mysterious phenomenon of all: love.
I’m currently armed with these two fun research books, and I can’t wait to dive in and bring Libby and Oliver’s story to life! I have some time to really get to know them before I start writing, so I’ve been daydreaming about who they are and what will make them special. I’m going to be including some fun local legends from the islands, there’s going to be an antiquities smuggling scandal in the series, and undergirding it all will be the true history of one of England’s most terrible pirates, who made the Isles of Scilly his base of operations…and whose treasure still hasn’t been found.