Seventeenth Century France and the Huguenots

Here are some books I found to help with research on my next novel, Gédéon. Click on the images for my full reviews.

True to Her Faith by Harriet Gabourel

I bought this book mainly because of the subtitle: A Story of France in the Time of the Huguenots. That was the subject of interest to me, as some of my ancestors in Jersey were forced to flee France during the persecution after the Edict of Nantes was repealed in 1685. The fact that the story was apparently told through the life of a child, and claimed to be suitable for reading to 7 year olds, was an added benefit; my grandson is almost seven.

The book is beautifully and vividly written, both as regards descriptions of the rural scenery and depictions of the convictions and tortured emotions of the main players, and contains a wealth of information about the sufferings of the Huguenots under the obsessive and paranoid King Louis XIV.

The French Peasantry in the Seventeenth Century by Pierre Goubert

This book contains a wealth of otherwise hard-to-find facts about the often poverty-stricken and mostly unnoticed country folk in the diverse provinces and regions we now know as France. Everything warrants a chapter: food, clothing and housing; birth, marriage and death; farming and poaching practices; relationships between peasants, seigneurs, unwelcome soldiers, haughty priests and the revenue-hungry royal bailiffs; taxes and revolts.

Psaumes interdits by Marjolaine Chevallier

This is a very well-crafted story of an extended family of Huguenots caught up in the frenzied and irrational persecution under King Louis XIV after he repealed the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It is based on a true incident, in which smuggled documents from sympathisers in Holland are salvaged from a shipwreck near Rochefort on the west coast of France.

The Refugees: A Tale of Two Continents by Arthur Conan Doyle

Two exciting stories in one book. Conan Doyle has diligently researched events and conditions both in Versailles and in French-Canadian North America, and developed two superbly written tales linked by the person of Amory De Catinat, a half-hearted young Huguenot serving as a personal guard of the King.

How much does it cost to research, write and self-publish a novel?

I was a total greenhorn when I started writing my first novel in May 2012. The trigger was that I simply couldn’t find a historical novel about the Isle of Elba (except relating to Napoleon’s brief exile there) while enjoying a fascinating hiking tour. Seeing the cave where the exiled hermit San Cerbone lived became the anchor point for a tale that began to grow in my imagination. And I started typing…

Now it’s published, and I dared to ask myself what it all cost – not counting, of course, all the time and emotional energy I invested over these last six years. What would you guess? Continue reading “How much does it cost to research, write and self-publish a novel?”

Choose from (almost) 400 Agents!

I’ve just signed up to Agent Hunter and am staggered at the number of UK agents listed, each with a more or less detailed description of their interests and the genres they are keen to represent.

The FAQ answers many questions I had and points to Writers’ Workshop tips on writing a covering letter, which were very helpful.

Taking their advice, I’ve submitted my query to a couple of selected agents and am now eagerly awaiting their – positive, I hope – responses.

Make the Reader Work!

One of my grossest errors when I first started writing fiction was to tell the reader exactly what was going on, why, and what the characters thought about it.

How boring is this?

Another pastime of mine was to observe snakes. There was something mystical about snakes. Some people thought they represented an evil power, but there was also a long-standing tradition associating them with healing powers. At any rate, they fascinated me.

Show, don’t tell!show-dont-tell

I’d never even heard of that most elementary of all writers’ maxims. Continue reading “Make the Reader Work!”

About Different Types of Fiction

For a change, I’m including a guest post. Thanks, Lucy Adams, for an interesting and thought-provoking article.

Why do people read books? pen-631321_960_720What are the reasons that they are among the most important inventions of human civilization? You know the answer, although you may not be aware of it.

Today I want to talk about two of the largest concepts of fiction, but let me start from afar. Continue reading “About Different Types of Fiction”

Re-Vision

It’s one thing to say I have completed the first draft of Aquila – all 34½ chapters – but quite another to say my book is finished.V+Aquila

I’ve benefitted greatly from the constructive and critical feedback I’ve received over more than two years through kindly colleagues in the Ubergroup on Scribophile and through less tolerant friends at the OtherWorlds Writing Group in Zürich. Considering all the – sometimes contradictory – remarks and suggestions was a major job. Then I started on some other issues I knew needed attention.

The next stage was a chapter-by-chapter Combo Check with Pro Writing Aid (Have a look at their Special Offer), which revealed a huge number of stylistic weaknesses, such as sticky words, far too many adverbs, repeated words, long sentences and overuse of things like ‘think’, ‘believe’, ‘then’, ‘heard’, ‘just’, etc.Revision ToDo's

A professional editor requested a double-spaced hardcopy, so I had two drafts printed. The second is for my own use – to read aloud (my wife has volunteered as a captive audience) and for further reviewing.

There’s still a way to go and – unless the editor says it’s unworthy of publishing – one of the next steps will be to have a cover designed.

Aquila won’t be on the shelves tomorrow!

My new office

IMG_20151217_161526Snow-covered Alps in the distance, a red kite complaining about having been chased from its realm by angry crows, a waxing moon and last rays of sunshine at 4 pm on the 17th of December!

Having completed the first draft of my book, much revision is called for. One approach I’ve discovered is to read it out aloud, chapter by chapter, and listen to what it sounds like. What better place to do that than a hunter’s hide at the edge of the woods? The deer, foxes and hares don’t object.