How did this novel I’m working on come about? What sparked the creative urge to write it (other than insanity to think I could)? What was its seed? As a girl, I focused on English history, on the Tudors, because of their strong queens, and on the War of the Roses. When I was in college, newly married, I joined the Book of the Month Club. I loved books, and I grew up in a family that didn’t value them. Now I could have one of my choice coming to me every month, thanks to my ex-husband’s generosity (he loved books, too). One of the books I chose was Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King. It was about Louis XIV, and I lingered over every page with its beautiful photos as Mitford lightly and intelligently overviewed the span of his reign. I began to read French history. I liked the Louis’s, XIV, V, XVI (16 lost his head on the guillotine).
Of the Louis’s, only 14 really interests me, and as a novelist, the relationship he had with the women in his life fascinated me. I wanted to write about those women and their axis, him, only the story was too big. As a writer, I kept getting lost and overwhelmed. Only when I broke off a piece to use in another novel did I realize I’d tried to contain something too large for its container. And so this novel was born, with its focus on three months in this king’s life when he was twenty-two and carved his place in history. History slights all but the most aggressive of his loves, but I believe it was the shy love, the love of those three months and years afterward, that was the wing beneath his wings.
Interesting questions, those: Who are the people in our lives who have helped us be all we can be? And how many of them have we left behind?