Earlier this year, 12 of us embarked on an adventure of sorts – an anthology collection that revolves around 12 different cousins during the same Christmas holiday. You see, the powerful Duke of Danby has summoned all of his wayward grandchildren home for the Holidays. Some are more eager to come than others.
Today, four of us – Ava Stone, Jerrica Knight-Catania, Lilia Birney and Julie Johnstone – are happy to introduce you to the characters we wrote for the collection. (It was an adventure being responsible for a character who shares a history with other authors’ characters. But we had a wonderful time collaborating.)
Often times, siblings are very similar to each other. They are raised by the same people in the same house and have the same experiences in their formative years. But other times, siblings are as different as night and day, despite the sameness of the blood that flows through them.
The Whitton siblings, from the Regency Christmas Summons Collection, fall into the latter category. First there is the eventual heir to the dukedom – Andrew, Earl of Hardwicke. His younger brother, Lord Philip. And their twin sisters Lady Emma and Lady Isabel. Oh, I know what you’re thinking… The twins will be the same, right? Nope – still different as night and day. But don’t take our word for it – they’ll tell you that themselves. (All four Whitton siblings will be around today to answer any follow up questions.)
What is something readers might not know about you, if all they had to look at was the blurb from your book?
Andrew: I’m a closet romantic and adore Sense and Sensibility, a charming novel I read this last year.
Isabel: (can’t comment because she’s laughing too hard at Andrew’s comment)
Philip (glances around and spies a pianoforte in the corner): Do you mind if I play a little whilst we converse? I find it damned hard to talk to anyone unless I am able to play a bit. (Walks over to the pianoforte and sits; begins playing Lully. He relaxes and faces the interviewer squarely.) My brother is such a romantic that he reads novels. Whereas I am such a romantic, I tried to off myself over a lady. 'Course, that's all water under the bridge, and all that. And my family kept the matter very quiet.
Emma: My dear brother Philip, so misunderstood. (She sighs as she looks away from him and back to her other siblings. Then she locks eyes with Isabel and the two of them double over laughing.) Sense and Sensibility? I cannot wait to tell Heath!
And now, tell me a little something about each of your siblings.
Andrew: I tortured Philip from the moment he was born because I was sure he was trying to ‘do me in’ to take my place as the next duke. Emma reminds me of myself - my better, more capable, straightforward self. On second thought, what it is about Emma that reminds me of myself is her ability at subterfuge. Must be why I adore her. As for Izzy, her knowledge of books far outweighs mine, which is why I run scared every time she tries to pull me into an intellectual debate. Now if she wants to converse about the finer points of whiskey or the hundred ways to please the woman you love, she need only look as far as my doorstep or Char's ear. Char would be more than happy to explain all the excellent ways I please her.
Isabel: Well, clearly, Andrew has a healthy respect for me. Philip, well, he’s just troubled, so I try not to make waves there. And Emma, she is and always will be my better half – the half that knows how to dance and needlepoint and do all those other feminine things that I seem to always fail miserably at.
Philip: Did Andrew really torture me? Can't remember, really. (Shifts on the bench and begins playing Chopin). It was of no consequence to me, for I couldn't care less about being a lord. In fact, it kept me from marrying the one I loved many years ago. As for Em and Izzy, they needed to learn how to give a fellow more privacy. Many's the time they walked in on me just as I was being, ahem, affectionate with my beloved Emily.
Emma: Andrew is our troublemaker. If there is a rule, he will find a way to break it. Philip spends more time in his own mind than he does out of it. But he plays so beautifully, doesn’t he? And, of course, there’s Isabel. She’s so sweet, though she denies it. She thinks of herself as very analytical; and though she is that – there is so much more to her. She is the most brilliant person I know.
Your father, the Marquess of Norland, has the reputation of being a very difficult man to read. What is he like as a father?
Andrew: Norland was an overbearing father who made my life hell, though mother has tried to tell me he was once a very kind man.
Isabel: Thankfully, I wasn’t the heir – or the spare -- so he wasn’t quite as overbearing with me as he was with Andrew and Philip. Though he is a force to be reckoned with, I know he’s got a rather soft heart beneath it all. It’s Mother who’s always given me the hardest time.
Philip (shrugs and continues with a different Chopin selection): Father's not difficult. In fact, I must say my family acted remarkably well when I tried to kill myself. Can't say a word against any of them, and I dare any man to try it.
Emma: I have never had a problem with either of my parents. I do wish Papa hadn’t discovered me with… (A blush stains her cheeks) Just forget I said that last part, Heath would die of embarrassment if he knew what I almost revealed.
Which sibling are you the closest to?
Andrew: I’m a consummate diplomat, if nothing else. I adore all my siblings equally. I would have to say my closest relative is Edgy. He’s gotten me out of more trouble than I care to admit, and he dragged my arse across the channel to reunite me with Char.
Isabel: Well, that’s easy, since Emma and I shared a womb. You can’t get much closer than that.
Philip: I love all my family, but Emily—my wife—is the only person in the world who really understands me.
Emma: My heart has always hurt a little for Philip. I never could understand him, no matter how badly I tried. (A beleaguered sigh escapes her.) And Drew – despite the fact that he ALWAYS cheated in hide-and-seek – without him I would have never met my Heath, and so I’ll owe him all of my days. BUT, Izzy is right – we shared a womb and no matter what madcap schemes I’ve come up with over the years, and despite her warnings about each and every scheme – she is my closest and dearest friend and sister. I love her with all my heart.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Andrew: In bed in Char’s arms. Is that too much information? Fine, fine. I see myself surrounded by my five children, one for every year. We will, of course, be at the theatre watching my astonishingly beautiful wife perfume in the latest and greatest production.
Isabel: Well, I’m making desperate pleas for Damien to take me on safari in the Serengeti. Perhaps spend some time abroad in a remote part of India or China and study the ancient civilizations of the Shang Dynasty…
Philip: Emily and I have discussed opening a music school in London, so I suppose we will settle there. And though she has one child already—Rose, my sweet little darling—I cannot wait to have more children. I shan't return to Italy for some time. Too many memories there.
Emma: (smiles brightly) In five years, in ten, in twenty – I’m sure I’ll be doing the same things. Loving my dear Heath, raising our children, entertaining as often as possible, and living my life to the absolute fullest.
And if Norland is difficult to read, your grandfather the Duke of Danby is reputed to be downright terrifying. Do you have anything to say about him? Of course, we won’t divulge a word of what you say to His Grace, so feel free to be as honest as possible.
Andrew: The thing you have to understand about Grandfather is he only wants what is best for his family. He can be your greatest ally or your greatest enemy, if he thinks you are making a mistake. Grandfather is a romantic at heart. He kidnapped Grandmother and forced her to the altar. She detested him, until he got her in the bedchamber. Shh…no one knows that!
Isabel: Grandpapa has always been my champion, and for that I will be eternally grateful. He never rolled his eyes at me for devouring books or shouted that I needed to be more ladylike. He simply accepted me as I was, which is a rare thing for me.
Philip: I suppose Grandfather is rather baffled by us all—none of us really turned out the way we were supposed to. I married a commoner after becoming a wastrel abroad, for example. But then, the old fellow still wants to be surrounded by us all, despite our flaws. (Stops playing abruptly, stands up, sending the bench scraping backwards.) I'm off. Ready to see my Emily—it's been too long without her. Drew, Izzy, Em—see you at dinner.
Emma: (stares at Philip’s retreating back. Once he’s gone, she turns back to the interviewer.) I don’t know what he’s talking about. I think I turned out exactly as I was supposed to. (She shakes her head as though to refocus on the question at hand.) You asked about Grandpapa? Well, he can be more than intimidating. He can stop one’s heart with just a glare or the clearing of his throat. I love Grandpapa. I love all my family, and though he can terrify me on occasion, I think I have finally learned how to manage him. Or as close as anyone can possibly claim to do so. A word of warning, however, should you visit Danby Castle – DO NOT run in the corridors. Doing so makes him extremely cranky.
We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of the Whitton siblings. Andrew and Emma can be found in A Summons From Yorkshire; Philip and Isabel can be found in A Summons From The Duke. If you have any questions for these siblings, please post it below. Be sure to add your email address so you can be entered into the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza. Winners will be drawn during a live chat Thursday December 15th from 8p-10p Eastern time at LadyScribes.blogspot.com (You do not need to be present to win, but it will be fun if you’re there!)
Today we are also giving away an ebook copy of both A Summons From Yorkshire and A Summons From The Duke. Do you have siblings? If so, are you similar or as different as the Whittons? And if not, do you miss the camaraderie of brothers and/or sisters – or are you glad for your solitude?