We’re delighted to have Catherine Delors join us to talk about her new novel, For the King, and to share her experiences writing the sophomore novel.
For the King is your second novel. Please us a bit about the new story.
After the 9/11 attacks, I gave much thought to the mindframes of people who would kill innocent civilians to make a political point. Given my French background, and my interest in the French Revolution in particular, the Rue Nicaise attempt to assassinate Napoléon came to mind. He escaped without a scratch but there were dozens of victims among passersby.
What is it about the revolutionary period in France that inspires your writing?
I became fascinated by revolutionary France when I wrote Mistress of the Revolution. The issues raised then and there remain totally current in our world.
Roch Miquel, your protagonist in For the King offers a different perspective from the aristocratic Gabrielle de Montserrat, your lead in Mistress of the Revolution. Did you have any difficulty portraying a different outlook of the revolution’s aftermath?
I specifically wanted to give a different take on the French Revolution from that of the aristocratic Gabrielle. It was important to show a different point of view, that of a man who did not have anything to lose in the Ancien Régime, and had everything to gain in the new order.
How much time did you spend researching For the King, and were there any memorable or surprising details that you uncovered while completing the research?
It took me many months to research the investigation. I was already familiar with the era after my research for Mistress of the Revolution. The surprise was to find how thorough the investigation had been, and how well preserved the records were. Also how some obvious questions were not raised, in particularly about the involvement of Fouché, the Minister of Police, and how the main culprits were allowed to escape…
Many of the characters in the novel are historical figures. How difficult was it to blend fiction with historical fact?
I like to work with fictional protagonists. This gives me more creative freedom in terms of plot and character development than if, say, my central figures were Napoléon or Joséphine. Then I bring in the “marquee names” but those remain in the background. Truth be told, I find the lives of ordinary people fascinating.
What were the challenges of writing your second historical novel?
The sophomore novel is supposed to be the most difficult to write. Indeed For the King was not easy. I wanted to make it very different from Mistress of the Revolution in many regards (it is a political thriller, for instance, and the main main point-of-view character is a male policeman) while keeping the same period flavor.
What are you working on? Do you plan to write more books about France’s turbulent history?
I am working on twin projects. One is a prequel, in the Gothic style, to Mistress of the Revolution, and the other an investigation of Jane Austen’s French connections. Yes, always France…
Thanks again for speaking with us, Catherine, and best of luck with For the King.
Thanks to you, Lisa, for having me here. It is always a pleasure to chat with you!
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