Paperback Writer is pleased to announce historical fiction author, Catherine Delors, author of Mistress of the Revolution. She has graceously agreed to an interview on her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Hi Catherine Delors,
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
Serendipity. Or fate, whatever you want to call it. It all started with a conversation with my father, a few months before his death. We were talking about a street in the little mountain of Vic, where I spent my summers as a child. The street in question was named after Pierre-André Coffinhal, a historical character of whom I knew nothing. My father told me that he had been Vice President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, a position of some prominence. That piqued my curiosity, and I began to dig around for information about the man. I wasn’t disappointed. What a character! The idea of making him a protagonist in a book took shape, and I remembered two other historical characters from the region of Vic at the time of the French Revolution, Carrier and the Chevalier des Huttes. That was too much of a coincidence to be ignored. I researched that era, which had never interested me before, and found it fascinating. I could not let go of it!
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
Planning an outline never entered my mind. It all started with writing random chapters about a young woman caught in various events of the French Revolution. I left things to their natural messiness. Then, after a while, I stitched all the pieces together into a story. A plot emerged. I had to go back and rewrite many passages, of course, but that was fun too.
Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
No. Some of my characters, like Marie-Antoinette, Coffinhal or the Duke de Lauzun, actually existed, so I was bound by what had happened to them, but for fictional characters like Gabrielle, my heroine, I was free to follow my imagination and the dynamics of the plot. That’s what makes writing so much fun. The arc of the story developed as I went.
Do you have a process for developing your characters?
No. This is another great thing about writing: characters take care of themselves. I simply get a general idea of what a character should be like, maybe three or four words, and then I let him loose in the story. He interacts with the other people in the book, and he begins to talk, sparks fly, and suddenly he is alive! Take the Count de Villers, for instance. He started as a label pampered, charming, womanizing nobleman, nothing more. I never imagined in the beginning that he would become so controlling, so bitter, almost crazy with jealousy. But that was dictated by his relationship with Gabrielle.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
Oh, of course. My heroine, Gabrielle, resembles me a lot. She is at times feisty, at times weak, always stubborn. She makes bad decisions that affect the course of her entire life. Also, her quest for freedom is mine. The main difference between Gabrielle and me is that I had the good fortune of being born in the 20th century. I received an education, I had many opportunities to find my own path, things that were often denied to women in 18th century France, and that are still denied women nowadays in many countries. What is your most favorite part about this book? This is a very difficult question. You must forgive me for saying so, but I love my own book, all of it! I would say my favorite part where Gabrielle’s granddaughter wants her to stitch a dress for a doll, and Gabrielle is reminded of her first husband. What I like in that passage is the interweaving of the present and the past, of happiness and sorrow, of love and hate.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
Only after the book had been written, edited and rewritten many times. And critiqued by as many people as I could enroll. I wanted to put my best foot forward.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
The most difficult, painful part was finding an agent. Like many unpublished authors with absolutely no connections, I queried and faced a barrage of rejections. At times, it was very disheartening. Yet I persevered, and ended up with two offers of representation from excellent agents.
What has been the best part about being published?
The sheer joy of knowing that other people, people I don’t know, will get to share my characters, my stories, my love of history, my affection for Paris. They will go from being complete strangers to being MY READERS. I, for one, feel very close to writers whose books I love. It is amazing to feel that the same is going to happen to me as an author.
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
Readers have my wholehearted blessing to carry with them whatever they liked in Mistress of the Revolution. Some of my early readers were drawn to Gabrielle herself as a heroine, some were fascinated by the details about everyday life in the 18th century, about Marie-Antoinette, about Versailles. People have also told me that for the first time they got to understand what led to the French Revolution and how events unfolded. Mistress of the Revolution is a romantic love story, and a historical epic. A reviewer compared it to Doctor Zhivago. I am delighted, flattered, humbled. What matters to me is that readers find in my novel something to enjoy, something that makes them think, or laugh, or cry.
Do you have plans to write another book?
More than plans. I have completed my second novel, still untitled. It will be published in March 2009, also by Dutton. Now I am getting started on Book 3, which will be a sort of prequel to Mistress of the Revolution.
Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
Exhilarating. Dorothy is dynamic, she knows her way around the blogs, she cares about the books she helps publicize and the authors behind them. All for a fraction of what her competitors charge. I heartily recommend Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
Certainly. I look forward to visits from my readers, and anyone else interested in the book, the French Revolution, or the process of getting published, at catherinedelors.com.
I also have a blog: http://blog.catherinedelors.com
Thank you, Catherine Delors, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
Thank you for having me here. Wish me luck!