Marquee was a word that came up at the Historical Novel Society Conference I attended in June. Should the main character be a marquee character or not….in other words, someone historically famous? Yes, seemed to be the consensus of New York (as in agents and editors). Philippa Gregory‘s best selling Tudor novels are the source of this.
I had just written a marquee novel, but not on purpose. I wrote it because it was what had to be written in the unfolding saga of the Tamworth family, this family who lives so strongly in my imagination, Barbara and Alice and Richard and Tony and others. Even though no Tamworths were in my marquee novel (there was a slight reference in the draft that was part of a larger scene I ended up cutting), Louis XIV had been brooding way in the background, waiting for me. Somehow, it had to do with this family, with the huge outside forces in their lives.
And now, as I walk carefully around the nesting egg of the next novel, it won’t have a marquee character carrying the story, though likely Louis* and Athenais and Louise will have their places in it. It will likely be similar to Dark Angels, fictional characters reacting to or intimate with actual historical figures. (I adored Charles Stuart and his wayward family. It was great fun to write about them all.)
I just believe in story. The story within drives me. What do you believe in? What makes a good story? A story you want to read? Should the main character be a name, if it’s historical? Why?
*More from my new favorite film Le Roi Danse….I love the actor who plays Louis….
Posted in Before Versailles, books, creativity, Dark Angels, fame, fiction, historical fiction, history, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, story, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Louis XIV", "Louise de la Valliere", Historical Novel Society, Karleen Koen, Madame de Montespan, Philippa Gregory, what to write next, why I write what I do, writing fiction
Last time I wrote about what was not true in my latest novel (or in other words, the fiction in the fiction), so here’s what is true in Before Versailles……when Louis XIV* was 22 years old, his mentor died, and he was brought face to face with the fact that someone else in the kingdom was quite powerful, perhaps more powerful than Louis himself. What he did with that fact is interesting even to this day. During that same time period, Louis had been married for one year to a Spanish princess, and for that year, he’d been faithful. But he began a friendship with his new sister-in-law, an English princess who had always lived in France, that quickly turned to flirtation, and maybe more. History becomes quite unclear on this point.
To me, all of the above, from powerful men to painful decisions to powerful flirtation, is the stuff of drama, the stuff of story. And Louis’s only brother and heir was gay. And that brother’s best friend was also in love with the English princess. More drama. And Louis himself fell in love as he grappled with power and how much was truly his…..all of this in a period of four months in the summer air of the summer palace of Fontainebleau. And so I tried to make a story of that, of young people in extraordinary positions who were unfurling in all manner of ways. They were the Hollywood of their time, a real historical reality show. I thought for a long time the story belonged to the two key women in the excitement, but it didn’t; it belonged to Louis. And once I realized that, I had so much, passion, fear, ambition, treachery, love, betrayal, competition, tenderness; those emotions and qualities were really there, and it was my job to make them discernable again, to polish the tarnished silver of another century and show everyone its gleam……..
For me, it’s always about the people in the story….what do you think? What pleases you in fiction?
*A marvelous snippet from YouTube from Le Roi Danse that shows a young Louis XIV…enjoy…..
Posted in Before Versailles, books, character, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, historical fiction, history, life, Now Face to Face, romance writing, story, story and character, story and family, story and life, story and love, story and theme, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Henriette of England", "Louis XIV", Cardinal Mazarin, French history, Karleen Koen, the chateau of Fontainebleau, the Comte de Guiche, Versailles, what makes a book work for me, writing historical fiction
“Every action, every item she writes about is incorrect,” a not-fan has posted on Amazon. Now that’s not quite fair. A lot of Before Versailles is true. But then again, to be fair, some of it isn’t. Some is conjecture; some is guess; some of it is just out and out made up.
As far as I know, the boy in the iron mask wasn’t there. But my theory is, if Alexandre Dumas can play with tantalizing historical whatsit, so can I. There was something, a man in a silk mask, perhaps an iron mask. But no one knows who he was or why he was imprisioned. Voltaire conjectured that he was Louis XIV‘s real father. And the Mazarinades are absolutely true, word for word…..however…..I don’t know if they were secretly recopied and delivered to Louis in 1661. But it made for some great intrigue and gave me a wonderful way to explain his complex and treacherous past. And as for Louis’s real father….well, Voltaire–the literary light of the 18th century– thought there might be someone else other than Louis XIII, and there’s a contemporary scholar who has brought some proof forward that it’s possible Mazarin was in Paris at the right time. And the queen and king were estranged, not for a little bit, but for years. Years. And she committed treason the year of Louis’s conception. And the king was quite ill and preferred his own sex………so, forgive me if I put two and two together and get a number that could be four. And maybe the viscount and the lovely Princess de Monaco didn’t become lovers, but in my story world they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. And I did make up the names of the pets and am most proud of Odalisque. O.K. I guess I just have to plead guilty. It’s true. I write fiction.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, historical fiction, history, Houston, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, sensuality, story, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Louis XIV", Alexandre Dumas, Anne of Austria, fiction writing, Karleen Koen, Louis XIII, Mazarin, non fans, the man in the iron mask, the three musketeers, Versailles, Voltaire, what is fiction, why I write what I do