Introducing my follow up to The Secret Diary…

10 April 2011

It’s been just over a month since I published my novel about Marie Antoinette on Kindle and I have to say that I have really enjoyed the experience. It’s not just been hideously compulsive to watch my sales go up every day on the Kindle dashboard (except for the start of the month when they depressingly revert back to ‘0’ again) but I’ve also really liked chatting to other Kindle authors and finding my way around the whole quagmire of making my book’s Amazon page look as appealing as possible and then publicising it in a way that is effective but not annoying.

Here’s some of the lovely things readers have had to say on Amazon:

‘This book is amazingly well written, I felt like I was being talked to by an old friend by the time I was done. The author really draws you into the story and makes you feel like you are actually there. Even though I was familiar with Marie Antoinette’s story I found myself holding my breath and waiting to see what happened next. I felt her pain, and embarrassment, the whole thing is so vividly detailed!’

This book is scrumptious from beginning to end. I loved reading every page of it. Melanie has a gift for description – you can feel, smell, taste, see and hear it all as if you were there in the midst of it all. Antonia is so endearing, mischievous and lovable … a girl I would have loved to have been friends with. The diary-style of the book was fantastic; reading all her innermost thoughts as if you were her closest friend in the world. From Vienna to Versailles I traveled with Antonia; felt her happiness and her sorrows as if they were my own. One of those books that you just want to hug once you are finished. And I didn’t want it to end. (Melanie! Write more! *grins*) A definite “must-read”.’

I have read more books about Marie Antoinette than I can count and this one is my favorite. I love that the author goes into Marie Antoinette’s childhood since we do not alway see that part of her life in other books about her. The author writes in a style that flows easily and I can never put it down! A five star book that I will cherish forever!’

‘I love fiction based on historical fact and the amount of detail in this book is just incredible. The descriptive passages really bring the era to life and I really appreciated the historical accuracy. It’s very easy to fall completely into this book and I ended up reading it in a very short amount of time.’

I’m so pleased that readers have enjoyed it so much and that they seem to have loved Antonia as much as I did while I was writing it. I’m also glad that the mountain of research books paid off!

The Secret Diary of a Princess was actually intended to be a Young Adult book, and emboldened by its success I have decided to write a follow up in the same vein alongside Before The Storm. I know a lot of you would like a sequel about Marie Antoinette’s life as Dauphine at Versailles, but I think it’s been done too often and so, until I can find a unique angle (and I have one bubbling away, never fear) I have decided to finish something a bit different, which I have had on the back burner for quite a while…

As long term readers of this blog probably already know, I am a bit obsessive about Versailles, Charles II, Paris, the English Civil War, Henriette d’Orléans and Louis XIV so what could be a better than a book that incorporates all of this?

In 1696, the little princess Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie went to live at Versailles as the bride of her great uncle Louis XIV’s grandson, the Duke of Burgundy. The spoiled Marie-Adélaïde, blessed with flashing dark eyes and a robust Bourbon enjoyment of life inherited from her mother, soon took Versailles by storm and became the pampered favourite of both the Sun King himself and his wife, Madame de Maintenon.

However, in time her childish romping became a bit much and the future of the Bourbon dynasty was imperilled by the teenage princess’ refusal to behave properly as she preferred taking fancies to various handsome courtiers to settling down with her adoring husband and playing silly practical jokes to behaving properly as a future Queen of France should.

In my upcoming book, Minette, a kindly lady in waiting presents the Princesse Marie Adélaïde with a battered old journal, once kept by her half English grandmother, Henriette-Anne Stuart, Duchesse d’Orléans, another spirited but unhappy princess, the much loved sister of Charles II, who was there at the very inception of Versailles and was loved and lost by the young Louis XIV.

It was bitterly cold that morning and I could hardly bear to get out of bed, not that it made any difference as the threadbare cotton of my sheets were barely able to keep my freezing toes warm, no matter how much I curled them under.

‘Come on sleepy head,’ my brother Charles said with a laugh. ‘We are expected at the Louvre this afternoon and you know how sour Mama gets when we are late.’

‘I don’t want to go,’ I said with a sniff, pulling the covers over my head. ‘Everyone there laughs at me because I wear old clothes and Cousin Philippe says that I’m not a real princess.’

‘Does he indeed?’ Charles stopped laughing and I pushed back the sheet to sneak an uncertain look at his face. He didn’t look cross, which was something and would have been unusual, but there was something brooding and pensive about his eyes that I had never before seen and which made me feel suddenly uneasy. ‘Well, well, good old cousin Philippe.’

‘It isn’t a nice thing to say, is it Charles?’ I asked hesitantly. ‘Mama tells me every day that I am a princess and that I shouldn’t pay attention to Philippe but…’

‘But…’ Charles gently pulled back the sheet so that he could look me in the eyes. ‘I know. It’s hard to feel like a real princess when your shoes have holes, when your dress is far too small and your stomach is growling because you haven’t had enough to eat.’

I nodded, then sat up in the bed, hugging my thin knees beneath the offending sheet. I smiled ruefully up at my brother. ‘Cousin Louis says that I am too thin,’ I said, rubbing my elbows. ‘He calls me the relic of the Holy Innocents. On account of all my bones, I suppose.’

‘He’s a fool.’ Charles reached out to gently touch my cheek. ‘And what is more he’ll realise it one day and rue his words, the idiotic young whelp.’ He took me by the hand and pulled me from the bed, dancing me around the room until I forgot the cold and almost cried with laughter. ‘Besides,’ he said, pausing for a moment to bow over my hand, his long almost black hair brushing against my fingers, ‘people can say what they like about we Stuarts, and they frequently do, but they can’t deny that we know how to have fun.’ — Minette, M Clegg, 2011.

As she reads the precious diary, Marie-Adélaïde begins to realise that she has more in common with her long dead grandmother than she could ever have thought possible and the course of history, as they say, is changed forever. Or maybe it isn’t – I haven’t actually written the end yet so we’ll all have to wait and see!

I hope this is GOOD NEWS for some of you! I’m hoping to have Minette finished by the end of the year and don’t forget that, in the meantime, my next book Blood Sisters (about an aristocratic trio of sisters during the French Revolution) is due out this Summer with Embrace Books.

If you haven’t read The Secret Diary of a Princess yet, then it is available on Kindle (and works on all Kindle apps for phones, iPads, computers as as well as for actual Kindle readers) for £2.30 from Amazon UK and $3.00 from Amazon US.

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