Character Spotlight ~ Carla Stewart’s Nell Marchwold

The Hatmakers HeartMeet a milliner in

Carla Stewart’s

Historical Romance

The Hatmaker’s Heart


The Story

For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful. Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman’s best qualities. She knows she’s fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. Yet when Nell’s fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she’s had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.
But it seems Nell’s gift won’t be hidden by Oscar’s efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.

Introducing Nell

Brief physical description 

Blonde, blue eyes, slight build, and has a youthful innocent look

Credit: PEYTON PLACE, 1964

Credit: PEYTON PLACE, 1964


Mia Farrow when she was a young woman

Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths: artistic talent, especially with designing and making hats, loyal, has a strong love of family, determined (at times driven), teachable, strong faith

Weaknesses: a life-long stammer, doesn’t always stand up for herself, blinded by early success in terms of what she really wants out of life. Her drive to succeed keeps her from enjoying some of the simple things of life around her.

Quirk (if any)

Doodles while waiting for inspiration as she designs. Has a penchant for gnocchi that she eats in the Italian diner below her flat

Your inspiration for the character

From the beginning, I knew Nell would hail from a noble British heritage, and that she would have a special relationship with her grandmother. I honestly don’t know why I chose her to have a stammer—it’s one of those quirks of creating characters. They often come to mind with their physical characteristics and back story that isn’t of my making. She wasn’t patterned after anyone I know, but if anything, I was drawn to her—a girl born of privilege who is uprooted and had security/self-esteem issues alongside an enormous talent. Thrusting her in the high-pressure fashion world allowed me to challenge her in a myriad of ways. 

Background to the story 

My brilliant agent gets the credit for the initial idea. We had been talking about me writing in a more historical vein than I had previously, but I hadn’t come up with a solid idea. On the last evening of a conference we were both attending, she whispered two words: Kentucky Derby.

My initial concern was that it would be pretty hard to sell a CBA novel with a setting that glorified gambling and had its own signature alcoholic beverage, but the Kentucky Derby is also known for its high-society fashionable attendees and their marvelous hats. I did a few Google searches and knew that my agent was onto something. I’ve long been intrigued by the Roaring Twenties and thought it would be fun to have both an American and British setting. I couldn’t recall reading any stories about hatmakers, so the first threads of the story began to emerge, and I wrote a proposal. My editor loved it and played a big part in the brainstorming process (I love when this happens!). I had a marvelous time researching and learning who Nell Marchwold, the hatmaker in my story, is and how she was discovered at . . . of all places, the Kentucky Derby.

Thanks Carla ~ always a delight to have you visit!

Carla’s running a fabulous contest on her blog! Click here to enter the Jazzy Hatmaker’s Heart Giveaway – it closes soon, so enter now!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Broken Wings and Chasing Lilacs
Character spotlight on Georgia & Peter
Character spotlight on Broken Wings characters
Character spotlight on Chasing Lilacs characters
Listen to my audio interview with Carla
Visit Carla’s website and blog
Buy at Amazon: The Hatmaker’s Heart: A Novel or Koorong

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2 Responses to Character Spotlight ~ Carla Stewart’s Nell Marchwold

  1. Cool. What a great cover too.

  2. Love the cover image and the use of the Derby and hats in your story line!

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