Before the Storm, Revolutionary Women

20 March 2011

I’m now almost 35,000 words into the book – they’re currently admiring a very lovely château on a bright, sunny spring morning so I can safely leave them all there for a bit and talk to you instead. I’ve modelled the château on gorgeous French Renaissance Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley as it is just such a special place.

Research is taking many forms right now. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at portraits of women from the late 1780s and early 1790s, taking in their bright eyes, their soft ringlets and the gentle muslin folds of their gowns. Sometimes I know what happened to them – if they perished in the Terror or managed to escape and in the case of the ones that I don’t know, I find myself wondering what happened to them and what they saw in those exciting, terrifying years.


I’ve been reading Caroline Moorhead’s book about Madame de la Tour du Pin, with particular reference to pre revolutionary Parisian society as it would have been experienced by my characters. I’m fascinated by the society of that time – how decadent and luxury loving yet inquisitive and intellectually curious they were.

Has anyone else seen the film Jefferson in Paris by Merchant Ivory? It is one of the best representations of high society during that period that I have ever seen. The costumes are fantastic and the depiction of Louis and Marie Antoinette’s Versailles is amazing and just how I imagine it to have been.

As you can guess by all the costume posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about what they would have worn as well. I’d dearly love an eighteenth century gown of my very own but I’m not very handy so wouldn’t know how to start making one. I’ve seen one that I might buy if I come into untold wealth though!

So that’s where I am now. Kindle sales of my novel about Marie Antoinette are going amazingly well (thank you so much everyone who has bought a copy! Please leave a review! If you fancy checking it out – it is £1.72 from Amazon UK and $2.99 from Amazon US) and I’m also looking forward to the launch of my second book with Embrace Books sometime in the summer.

I’m thinking about having a proper French Revolution themed book launch for Blood Sisters with CAKE and CHAMPAGNE and stuff! What do you think? Can it be done with an e-book release? I might also have my first reading coming up too! I’m a bit shy, which is odd as I flounce about the place with hot pink hair and am always going on about Victorian Prostitute re-enactment and GIN, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless!

I don’t know what I’m planning for Before The Storm, but it will be made available to readers one way or the other. I’m sloooowly coming around to the idea of trying to get an agent, but I’m still a bit put off after the last time! I think I’m doing okay without one though.

I’m still thinking about what my next book should be about and am torn between a novel about Mary Jane Kelly or one about Isabella Medici. I’m weighing it up very seriously at the moment as both will require research trips (Whitechapel versus Florence and Ferrara – hm, it’s a tough life being a writer) and varying degrees of expense.

I try not to think about the expense though as I’d hate to think that it’s possible to not be able to afford to be a writer. Sometimes though, I find myself wondering if perhaps you do need a reasonably large income in order to be able to do it ‘properly’. Same with blogging actually. Or maybe I just feel that way right now because I’m having a skint month and am not only wincing at the prospect of paying for research trips for books that I badly want to write but have also had to say a regretful ‘no’ to a few things that I would ordinarily have loved to do if I hadn’t spent all my money on halloumi and shoes. Oh woe is me!

Of course, if I wrote contemporary women’s fiction, I wouldn’t have these issues! Or maybe I would. Does it require exploratory trips to Christian Louboutin?

Anyway, that’s enough talking about writing! I’d better get back to it…

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