Answer: I haven’t the foggiest. I believe some of the founding fathers were Freemasons — though according to Wikipedia, John Q. Adams, at least, was a vocal opponent. People love to point out the signs and symbols of Freemasonry in some of the emblems of our country, design of our money, etc. But saying you were in a fraternal order in the 18th century is pretty much like saying you were a member of a certain societal class. And then I bet a huge number of our presidents were in fraternities in college. Or do secret societies with Greek letters not count? Other than that, I know that at least Presidents Taft and both Bushes were in Skull & Bones.
Question: “Why is the Ivy League called the Ivy League, and what is it, exactly?”
Answer: The phrase originally referred to only an athletic league, like the “Big Ten” or “Division I” or etc. In fact, it is still used that way: Yale sports teams compete within the Ivy League Conference. The teams included are: Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth. I have heard two stories: that the term came from the ivy on the college building walls, and that the term is a misprint of the fact that originally there were only four (IV) teams in the league: Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers. There were other schools that came in and out over the centuries, like (I think) Bowden. Or maybe Bowden was offered a position in the conference and turned it down? There are a lot of rumors and legends. 😉 At any rate, only later did the term come to mean anything other than an athletic competition.
Question: “Is the conspiracy theory website working again?”
Answer: Nope, but it will be when the new site launches! (Note to the uninitiated: I made a web site to match the one that plays a major role in Under the Rose. It’s currently unavailable. I guess the powers that be have more influence than we’d thought!)
Question: Why are your books set at “Eli University” instead of Yale?
Answer: Because it’s fiction, and it’s fun to make up names for things. No, seriously. Why does Superman work at The Daily Planet in Metropolis, rather than The Chicago Sun? I think it’s much more rare, in fiction, for writers to talk about real companies. In The Devil Wears Prada, Prada might be real, but Runway magazine is not. I’m not trying to pull anything over on the reader; anyone with eyes can see that Eli is extensively based on Yale. Even the name “Eli” is a shout-out. You’ll note in the books that I never talk about Yale. Yale does not exist in the world of the books. I talk about Princeton, or Harvard, or Stanford, or NYU… but in this world, there is no Yale, no other Ivy League college in New Haven. In its place, there is Eli.
The extra layer of fiction gives me leeway, as an author, to not constantly be worried about literal accuracy. I can change geography or traditions or facts to suit the story, because I’m not talking about a real place. Rose & Grave is not Skull & Bones, but its own secret society, composed of a variety of society traditions drawn from collegiate, professional, fraternal, and religious secret societies. Eli is not Yale, nor is it connected to the Yale Corporation. When I’m talking about deans or professors or leaders of campus organizations or rivalries, it’s not real people or real organizations I’m talking about. I make it all up for the sake of the story.
Question: How many books are there in the secret society girl series? Answer: Four. The first three are, in order: Secret Society Girl, Under the Rose, and Rites of Spring (Break). I’m working on the fourth one now, and it will be released in summer of 2009.
Winner of the “Read it before the Release” Rites of Spring (Break) giveaway is….
Liza, email me with your address and I’ll get you a copy of ROSB and some other goodies.