The Story of a Novel

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With two novels in the capable hands of editors, I’m turning my mind to the challenge of what to write next. Two ideas have been swirling around: one is the continuation of the life of Claire, the daughter of World War One lovers Helene Noisette and Edward Jamieson. Raised by Francois Delancey as his own child, Claire never knew of her biological father until after her mother’s death. Lies Told in Silence ends when Claire calls Edward and he picks up the phone.

I’ve had many readers ask me to tell the story of what happened to Claire. Until recently, my response has always been: “When I know the story, I’ll be able to write it.”

The second idea is to write a sequel to Paris in Ruins, the novel I plan to publish in a few months time. That story would follow the lives of Camille Noisette – Helene’s aunt – and Mariele du Crecy who marries Camille’s brother. The plot would unfold during the Belle Epoque and feature some of the impressionist painters. Two years ago, I even wrote a few chapters.

I’m leaning toward the first idea. When I originally thought about writing a sequel to Claire’s story, I kept trying to imagine what would happen after Claire called Edward. It was only when I turned my imagination to what Claire’s life might have been like as a young woman living in Paris at the beginning of World War Two, that an idea sparked.

Recently, I purchased four books focused on stories related to D-Day to further spark the creative process.

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre ~~ Macintyre returns with the untold story of the grand final deception of the war and of the extraordinary spies who achieved it.

D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose ~~ The dramatic, untold true story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis and pave the way for Allied victory in World War II.

The Paris Game: Charles de Gaulle, the Liberation of Paris, and the Gamble that Won France by Ray Argyle ~~ Amid the ravages of a world war, three men — a general, a president, and a prime minister — are locked in a rivalry that threatens their partnership and puts the world’s most celebrated city at risk of destruction before it can be liberated. This is the setting of The Paris Game, a dramatic recounting of how an obscure French general under sentence of death by his government launches on the most enormous gamble of his life: to fight on alone after his country’s capitulation to Nazi Germany.

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan ~~ A compelling tale of courage and heroism, glow and tragedy, The Longest Day painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

I dipped into each one of these books just a few mornings ago before settling in to read Double Cross.

I’m cautious about yet another novel set during WWII, however, a good story is a good story regardless of the time period. With luck, I can turn the germ of an idea into a story arc. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

The Evolution of a Novel

No doubt some authors conceive a novel, create a brief outline then write full steam ahead. The Admiral’s Wife, my current WIP, is not such a novel.

At the beginning, this novel was titled East Rising Sun, the inspiration taken from a qigong move of that name. Around 2009, I conceived the idea of writing a novel about four expat wives living far away from their respective homes. The notion came from my own three years as an expat – the pejorative term was trailing spouse – based in Hong Kong.

I imagined a story about the trials and tribulations of living far away from everything that is familiar, surrounded by a different culture, strange foods and an incomprehensible language. From personal experience, I knew how difficult this was – excitement and euphoria followed by the slam of reality and intense feelings of loneliness and dislocation. I’d even written a series of articles about the journey and the personal growth involved and at an optimistic moment, outlined a non-fiction book – never written – called Thriving as an Expat Spouse.

Four women – a Brit, an Australian, an American and a French woman – all met at a qigong class. Yes, I attended a series of qigong classes one fall while living in Hong Kong. Each woman had her own struggle (husbands, children, life), which the group helped her overcome. I had in mind a story like The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs or The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands.

Not surprisingly, one of the characters was based on my own circumstances although the others were totally fabricated. Here’s the opening paragraph of that long ago version.

Dislocation. That was the word that came to mind as I sat on my favourite chair, feet stretched out on the hassock, reflecting on our first four months in Hong Kong. Loneliness didn’t quite capture how disconnected I felt, severed from the familiar, out of place, startled each time I looked at my surroundings, as if perhaps a good pinch would transport me back home.

Twelve months later, I set that novel aside in favour of writing Lies Told in Silence, my second work of historical fiction. I had no intention of returning to it.

More on the evolution of a novel next week.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Imagining 1870s Paris

A few weeks ago I posted some photos that provided inspiration for Acts of Rebellion which is set in 1870s Paris. I found some of them online, some in books, and took others during a trip to Paris last spring.

Acts of Rebellion features Mariele du Crecy and Camille Noisette. The du Crecy family has connections to the aristocracy and their wealth is considered ‘old money’. The Noisette family’s wealth came more recently. In particular, Camille’s father became exceedingly wealthy from real estate development and investments during Napoleon III’s rebuilding of Paris. This rebuilding took place from 1852 to 1870 and beyond. Camille lives in an expensive home in the 7th arrondissement.

The Noisette salon and library might look something like these rooms.

In Chapter 6, Camille and Mariele get to know one another while strolling in the Tuileries gardens. Beyond the fountain in this 1850 photo is the Tuileries Palace. It was destroyed during the Commune so if you visit Paris now, the Tuileries gardens are larger than they were at the time of Acts of Rebellion. Behind the Tuileries Palace is the Louvre.

While out strolling, Camille wears a dress like the one below which was taken at the Louvre. Of course, beneath the dress she’ll have on some sort of corset laced tightly at the back.

Corset

Day dress

Promenading was a frequent occupation for Parisians. Many strolled the fashionable streets or through various gardens of Paris to see and be seen. I doubt any of them were focused on exercise the way we are today 🙂

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.