One of the questions I get asked most frequently is where I find inspiration for my stories. In most cases, I find them through the many research avenues I have available to me, whether it be books about the Gilded Age, data bases I access through my local library, or old newspapers I peruse when I’m looking for unusual names. In the case of my latest series, the American Heiress series, I was inspired years ago after reading the true-life story of Consuelo Vanderbilt.
Poor Consuelo was a member of one of the richest families in the world, daughter to William K and Alva Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, Alva was a bit of a social climber, and had decided to use her daughter as a tool to climb that social ladder through an advantageous marriage to a duke. Unfortunately, Consuelo didn’t care for this duke as she was in love with another gentleman, but she married the duke, and suffered through quite a few years of an unhappy marriage before she finally sought a divorce.
Like most of my series, this one started off with the question “What if?” “What if Consuelo had balked at marrying this duke?” That’s all it took for the American Heiress series to take shape. I knew from the start that I was going to need three distinct heiresses in order to keep the stories fresh. Isadora Delafield was the heiress inspired by Consuelo, so she was first with “Flights of Fancy.” Then I was intending on writing Beatrix Waterbury’s story next, who was going to be my unconventional heiress, ending with Miss Poppy Garrison’s story, who was going to be an unexpected heiress, and clueless about how to navigate her way around the New York Four Hundred.
Interesting fact here is that before I begin writing a series, I turn a synopsis over to my editing team, outlining each book and storyline. They then take that synopsis/proposal to the pub board, and that board deliberates over whether it’s a good idea. Thankfully, they gave the American Heiress the green light, so I was off and running – except that my editors and I decided that I had the books in the wrong order. Clearly, “Flights of Fancy” was to go first, but we thought it would break up the series better if we stuck Poppy Garrison into the middle since she was not familiar with New York City and all the rules, whereas Beatrix Waterbury was. Now, that might not seem too problematic, but I didn’t really know who Beatrix was at that point, but by switching the stories around, she was going to turn into the character who would make an appearance in all three books.
In order to keep everything straight with a series, I use . . . ( see part 2 tomorrow–September 15 . . . don't miss it to see what Jen Turano uses to keep everything straight!)
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age.
Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal.
She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.
When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.