Fenella! We’ve never interviewed an actual, bonafide celebutante! To what do we owe the pleasure of your appearance?
Well, I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d pick flowers to dress up the salon. The literary salon, that is, where we will be hosting a reading later today. Naturally I had to pin some to the front of my dress—do you like them?
Yes, we never would’ve thought to pin an entire nosegay of flowers to the front of ourselves; we see you’ve brought your famous (or should we say infamous) fancy for innovation with you today. But what’s this reading that’s happening this evening? And did we miss your invitation in the mail somehow?
Oh no! You didn’t receive it? But I had my coachman hand-deliver it! Sigh…I will have to have him flogged. The reading is a gathering of some of my best literary soulmates. We are going to read a manuscript of our new collaborative novel in the round! And since you mentioned it, yes, it is quite innovative—I have no doubt everyone will be astounded upon its publication!
(But you must come tonight! I will let my butler know that even though you don’t have an invitation in hand you may still enter the premises.)
(I just love my nosegay! It’s perfectly positioned so that I can surreptitiously duck my nose down to my bosom and inhale its delicate floral aroma.)
We accept your invitation and we can’t wait! You know, Fenella, we’re very much into collaboration ourselves here at the Ghost Paper Archives. We’re dying to hear about your process. What will you divulge about it? (That nosegay is indeed fragrant; we’re feeling rejuvenated by it all the way over here.)
I don’t want to give it all away, but since you asked so politely I can say that we each wrote a part of it. I may even have inserted myself as a character, but whether or not that’s indeed true will be for the reader to decide!
I’m so thrilled that you plan to attend! I should let you know that formal evening attire is required. Do you know what that means? It’s hard for me to tell how cultured you are…
Please—we feel outmatched culture-wise—tell us what to wear! We’re also very curious, if it isn’t too saucy to ask, what it was like to offer yourself up as a character to your friends? Did they take any, um, liberties?
Oh, you dirty bird…now I’m feeling quite flustered. Yes, if you must know, some of my more ribald writer-friends did take advantage of my character’s irresistible joie de vivre. I initially felt put out by this affront to decency, but after a few glasses of port I came around and fell in with the spirit of the thing. If it’s for art, I’m willing to endure the potential sacrifice to my reputation. Anything for art, is what I always say.
You should wear an evening suit or a dress or whatever you feel shows off your best self! Just don’t come dressed in rags. I’m hosting a salon, not running a rooming house, my dear!
OK we’ll see if we have anything that isn’t rags. Honestly, though, it’s all rags compared to your lustrous gown and cleverly placed nosegay. Who’s on the program to read tonight, and what will they be reading? Give us a teaser at least!
Supposedly Mr. Doyle is coming (he did contribute, after all) but he can be flaky. Too many demands on that one’s time for little old me. Who knew those detective stories he writes would be so popular! And Bram will be there, of course (that’s Mr. Stoker to you!). He’s working on a top-secret new novel. I really shouldn’t say anything about it, but a little birdy told me it’s about a blood-sucking fiend! (Don’t tell anyone I mentioned it!). Maybe if we’re lucky he’ll read us a little something from the manuscript tonight. The other attendees are mostly members of my little book club, so you probably haven’t heard of them. But I assure you each of them is a first-rate writer in their own right.
Fantastic. Fenella, you’re so charming and audacious, to offer yourself up as a character to mix with opium-eating sleuths and blood-sucking fiends. What’s that like, to be such a character?
Oh, I simply love it. It’s fun to hang around such nefarious characters! After all, what else am I going to do all day? Sit around and remonstrate the butler for his oafish tendencies as my nosegay slowly wilts in the afternoon sun? I mean, really…
No, that would be a squandering of your charm, for sure. Now . . . one last question. Suppose during this reading, which we are definitely coming to, we were to meet you there. Not near the canapés or the punch bowl, but in the actual story as it is being passed around from author to author. How will we know which Fenella is the real Fenella?
Ah, what a splendid question! You are certainly a clever one, aren’t you? But the answer is really quite simple, you see. I will be the only one wearing gloves!
(See you soon, I hope!)