What's the biggest mistake you've ever made in your books? - Julia Quinn

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your books?

Well, there’s the legendary tale of Eloise Bridgerton’s changing eye color. They were blue in The Duke and I, green in An Offer from a Gentleman, and gray in To Sir Phillip, With Love. I’d like to say that I was trying to go with the whole her-eyes-change-color-depending-on-what-she-wears thing, but I’d also like to say that I won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. So I’ll have to simply admit my mistake and be glad that I’ve never had a character whose eyes have changed within a book.

I also managed to accidentally make it seem like one of my heroines went on to commit adultery after she and the hero tied the knot. Allow me to explain: There are lots of “throwaway” characters in my books. By this I mean characters who are mentioned but don’t play a role in the book. For example, I might have a hero becoming jealous when he hears that a heroine dancing with someone else at a ball. Generally speaking, the story is stronger when I can give the other guy a name. Thus, rather than someone saying, “Mary danced with two other men,” they can say, “Mary danced with the Earl of Whatnot and the Duke of Whosis.” This means that I frequently have to come up with names. And that’s where I got into trouble.

There is a scene in On The Way to the Wedding in which the hero and heroine accidentally barge in on a couple enjoying a rendezvous:

“Oh!” Lucy jumped back, slamming a door shut.

“Did you find them?” Mr. Bridgerton demanded. Both he and Lady Bridgerton immediately moved to her side.

“No,” Lucy said, blushing madly. She swallowed. “Someone else.”

Lady Bridgerton groaned. “Good God. Please say it wasn’t an unmarried lady.”

Lucy opened her mouth, but several seconds passed before she said, “I don’t know. The masks, you realize.”

“They were wearing masks?” Lady Bridgerton asked. “They’re married, then. And not to each other.”

Lucy desperately wanted to ask how she had reached that conclusion, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so, and besides, Mr. Bridgerton quite diverted her thoughts by cutting in front of her and yanking the door open. A feminine shriek split the air, followed by a angry male voice, uttering words Lucy dare not repeat.

“Sorry,” Mr. Bridgerton grunted. “Carry on.” He shut the door. “Morley,” he announced, “and Winstead’s wife.”

“Oh,” Lady Bridgerton said, her lips parting with surprise. “I had no idea.”

“Should we do something?” Lucy asked. Good heavens, there were people committing adultery not ten feet away from her.

“It’s Winstead’s problem,” Mr. Bridgerton said grimly. “We have our own matters to attend to.”

Do you think I remembered that I used the name Winstead when, almost a decade later, I wrote A Night Like This? No, I did not, and even worse, A Night Like This (featuring the Earl of Winstead as hero) takes place about three years before On the Way to the Wedding. So if you happen to read On the Way to the Wedding after A Night Like This, it really does look Anne is cheating on Daniel.

I am delighted to announce, however, that I was able to get this changed in the recent reissue of On the Way to the Wedding. Now it is Whitmore’s wife who is carrying on with another man, and I promise you, I will never name a hero Lord Whitmore!

Did You Know?

I also made a huge blunder in Just Like Heaven. Colin Bridgerton (who appears as a very minor character) is married at the beginning of the book and unmarried at the end.

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