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…..


3 responses to “story

  1. You are really making me think and even as I write I probably won’t convey what pleases me in fiction. I am thinking of the books I love and I can’t find the pattern. Sometimes it is the people other times the animals I fall in love with. . If I listed all of the books of fiction that captivated me, all i know is that I was in ‘the zone’ when I was reading them and felt a sense of loss when I finished them. They all had great character development making me feel as if I were more of a witness to the story rather than a reader.

  2. Being put in a zone is a great way to describe what you like about your fiction…..any number of stories might do it…..that has to do with a writer’s skill, I think……

  3. It is like a drug. You keep searching for that feeling again. I love it best when it comes in a series like your books, Sherlock Holmes, etc. because you anticipate the feeling which is almost as good. I never thought of it in these terms before but there is nothing like it as probably most readers know. You just want to experience it again and again.

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