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Sites and Information used in the writing of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS

Writers are often asked if they base their characters on real people. Usually, I don't. It's much easier, as well as more interesting and exciting for me, to make up people, although bits and pieces of my personality, experience and values are going to come through. Since I'm the origin of the story and characters, it couldn't be otherwise.

However, there was one character in THE VISCOUNT'S KISS who had a lot in common with the author. It's not the heroine. It's not the hero. It's the hero's mother, who is so desperately afraid and worried about her son going on another long voyage.

You see, as I was writing THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, there was a chance that my son might take a job far away in a foreign country.* In this day and age of email, phones, etc., that's not so very bad, although it would mean not being with him for holidays and other times during the year. However, even the possibility of this distance between us was enough to make me very sympathetic to the countess's concerns.

So, yes, this time I did base a character on a real person - me.

* Since writing this, my son has taken a different job in a foreign country, approximately 3,000 miles away. Thank goodness for modern communications, or I fear the countess and I could have had even more in common these days.

Given that most higher education during the Regency included Latin and Greek, any book about somebody who likes spiders set in that time should have some classical allusions, especially the myth that gives the name to a whole class of creatures known as arachnids - that of the human woman, Arachne, who dared to claim she could spin better than a goddess.

Other classical names from history or mythology that appear in THE VISCOUNT'S KISS are Brutus, Bacchus and Castor. These names don't necessarily have any special meaning or significance (except for Arachne); sometimes, I just like the sound of them!

THE VISCOUNT'S KISS is set in Regency England and as part of the process of creating a sense of time and place, I mention some real places, such as Almack's Assembly Rooms, White's Gentlemen's Club and the Old Bailey. Buggy's family estate is near Bath and one scene takes place in the famous Pump Room.

Because Buggy's been on an expedition to the South Seas, another real place I mention in the novel besides Tahiti is Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii, where Captain Cook was killed.

Here are some fun Regency links I've visited on the internet: Regency Dress Up Doll (female), Regency Dress Up Doll (male) and Austenbook, what PRIDE AND PREJUDICE might have been like in the age of Facebook.

Brazilian Wandering Spider
For Buggy's book, I wanted to know about dangerous spiders. It turns out the worst, in terms of danger to humans, is the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria nigriventer). And in one of those coincidences research can sometimes yield, it turns out that one of the effects of the spider's venom, should it not kill you, is priapism (note the origin of the name - there's a Greek myth you don't hear about very often!), which could lead to impotence, a particularly suitable punishment for the villain.

Some of the other spiders mentioned in THE VISCOUNT'S KISS are the Meta menardi (cave spider), Argiope bruennichi (wasp spider) and Araneus diadematus (garden spider). Lord Bromwell also mentions the tarantula. In medieval times and indeed, up until the 19th century, it was thought that the effects of the bite of the tarantula could only be cured by music and dancing. Ever heard of a dance called the tarantella? Ever seen the movie The Godfather, Part II? The music Frank Pentangeli tries to get the orchestra to play is a tarantella. So if you're into the six degrees of separation idea, THE VISCOUNT'S KISS is only a few degrees from The Godfather, Part II: Buggy's into spiders, mentions tarantulas, the basis of the tarantella that Frank Pentangeli wants the orchestra to play in the move.

Back to history: Apparently those curative dances sound a lot like the sort of unbridled rituals of Bacchus, leading to a suspicion that as Christianity arrived, tarantulas became an excuse to continue with the wild partying.

Buggy's already been on one expedition, in the South Seas. He learned much about the culture of the islands, including their dances. Imagine a well-brought-up Regency miss coming upon a British nobleman who, believing himself alone, is half naked and dancing like this or this.

A book that provided much information and insight about such expeditions and life aboard ship was THE BOUNTY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, by Caroline Alexander. I learned many interesting things, among them that Fletcher Christian's sister was a PR machine who could put a modern spin doctor to shame and that, for Captain Bligh, it was unfortunate timing that the Bounty's mission was to gather breadfruit to provide food for slaves just when the anti-slavery movement was gaining momentum.

Since the hero of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, Lord "Buggy" Bromwell is particularly fascinated by spiders, a few are mentioned in the book. The first is Tegenaria parietina, also known as the cardinal spider. Apparently they were quite common at Hampton Court Palace, and as our hero mentions, rumor has it that Cardinal Wolsey was particularly frightened of them.

This type of spider appears in the first scene of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, with interesting results for our hero and heroine, whose reaction is considerably less enthused.

If you'd like to know more about British spiders, here are links to the British Arachnological Society and another site called The Tarantula's Burrow.

(More on tarantulas and other spiders, including the world's most poisonous, to come!)

Did you know the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet might be based on a real person - Patience, the step-daughter of Dr. Thomas Moufet (or Moufeet or Muffet), who wrote a work called Insectorum sive minimorum animaliuam theatrum, also known as the Theater of Insects, published in London in 1634.

I learned about this publication while reading SPIDERS, MEN AND SCORPIONS: BEING THE HISTORY OF ARACHNOLOGY by Theodore H. Savory, a book I had to buy used (via Abebooks). It proved to be perfect for my purpose - finding out what people knew about spiders, when.

The tidbit about Miss Muffet was something I hadn't expected and it was the sort of thing that makes research a delight.

"Buggy" has appeared in three previous books.

This Regency series has a rather different history. The first two books, KISS ME QUICK and KISS ME AGAIN, were written for Avon Books. The final two, A LOVER'S KISS and THE VISCOUNT'S KISS were written for Harlequin. All are available in ebook format and all were written to "stand alone" so you won't feel lost if you haven't read the other books in the series.

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