Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Q&A with Georgie Blalock




Georgie Blalock is the author of the new historical novel An Indiscreet Princess, which focuses on the life of Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise. Blalock's other novels include The Last Debutantes


Q: What inspired you to write this novel about Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise?


A: I was inspired to write about Princess Louise after reading Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter, Lucinda Hawksley’s excellent biography of Princess Louise. I didn’t know much about the princess before that and I was fascinated.


Princess Louise lived in such a vibrant era full of luminaries in the arts, literature and sciences. She knew or was friends with great men of art such as James McNeill Whistler, John Everett Millais, John Singer Sargent, and many members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.


However, she didn’t limit her acquaintances to the art world but also forged friendships with great and legendary authors and social reformers including the pioneering female doctor Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. She was the Princess Diana of the late Victorian era and a fascinating woman.


Q: The writer Gill Paul said of the novel, “It’s a fascinating glimpse into the pressures of being royal in an era when princesses had few choices, and a portrait of a very likeable, relatable woman who lived 150 years ago yet feels incredibly modern.” What do you think of that description, and how would you compare Princess Louise's experiences to those of the British royal family today?


A: Princess Louise’s ability to mix with different people from different worlds and classes is what makes her seem so modern. She was a princess who had the common touch, much like Princess Diana, and she cultivated friendships across social classes while also forging her art career, a truly revolutionary move for a royal of her time. 


I think her experience is similar to those of the younger members of the royal family. Like Prince William, she attended public school and developed lifelong friendships with commoners. She wasn’t afraid to mingle with people outside the royal circle or to truly understand their lives, situations and worlds.


She was also very philanthropic, like many of today’s royals.


Also like modern royals, she had to deal with an at times intrusive press. The reason she had to keep her relationship with Joseph Edgar Boehm so secret is because she couldn’t risk the scandal if news of their relationship ever reached the press. She had to walk the tricky line between being a public royal and maintaining a private life that was often at odds with her position as a princess.

Q: How would you describe the relationship between Louise and sculptor Edgar Boehm?


A: I think the quote from the old Bette Davis film, Now, Voyager, “…don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars,” best sums up Princess Louise and Boehm’s relationship.


They were deeply in love but they both understood the practical realities of their positions and the roles they had to play. They stole as much time together as possible while also doing their duties and keeping their relationship a secret in order to avoid scandal.


Princess Louise was with him when he passed suddenly in 1890, some say in a very compromising position. According to the press, she was the one who discovered his body, and all details of why a married woman was visiting a gentleman’s studio alone in the evening had to be carefully handled to avoid a scandal.


Even Queen Victoria became involved to help create a plausible story for the press that cast no shadow on Princess Louise’s reputation. It meant Princess Louise was not able to publicly mourn him as more than her friend and fellow artist.  


Q: And how would you describe the dynamic between Louise and her mother?


A: Queen Victoria was a very self-centered person. She only viewed the people around her, including her children, in regards to what they could do or mean for her, not what she could do for them. As a result, she could be very demanding.


Princess Louise was the most rebellious of her sisters, often refusing to go along with her mother’s dictates and this created a great deal of tension. However, in their desire to be their own person and assert themselves, Princess Louise and Queen Victoria were very much alike.


Queen Victoria had to assert herself and become her own person when she became Queen at 18 years old, defying her mother and her mother’s lover when they tried to control her and rule through her. In the novel, I have Queen Victoria recognize this similarity between them but I don’t think she ever did that in real life.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a number of story ideas that I’m developing for potential novels, including one about Wallis Simpson and the rumors that she may have been a traitor.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: When I’m not writing I can be found in the dojo training for my next black belt rank. I took up karate rather late in life and I love it! It’s a fun and challenging break from writing.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Georgie Blalock.

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