Monday, March 17, 2008
I’m pleased to introduce lawyer and historical romance author, Catherine Delors. Catherine’s debut novel, Mistress of the Revolution, has been called engrossing, captivating, and incredibly well-drawn. I’m thrilled to have this chance to talk to Catherine to find out more about the novel that had me staying up late at night to read it.
Welcome to The Book Connection Catherine. I’m glad you’re here.
It is my pleasure, Cheryl. Thank you for having me here.
Let’s start by getting to know you better. Where did you grow up? How long have you been working to get published? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I was born, raised and educated in France. I was already an attorney when I immigrated to the United States. To answer the other part of your question, it took me four months, from the time when I began querying agents, to receive offers from publishers. But it had taken me almost two years to write Mistress of the Revolution.
What was your reaction upon finding out that your first novel was accepted by Dutton?
I was amazed, impressed, humbled, overjoyed… All the more so that Dutton also made me an offer on my second novel, For the King. That was one of the factors that made me choose this publisher over the other ones interested in Mistress of the Revolution.
Did your law career help you as you wrote this book or in understanding the publishing industry?
Certainly, the fact that I am a practicing attorney helped me understand the importance of the legal changes that occurred during the French Revolution. Many of those innovations, for instance with regard to civil rights, are still with us nowadays.
As for understanding the publishing industry, I am afraid my legal training didn’t help at all! Of course, I knew about intellectual property concepts, like copyrights, but I had no experience whatsoever working with the publishing industry. All I know now I learned from scratch or from what my agent, Stephanie Cabot, told me.
Let’s move on to Mistress of the Revolution. Where did the idea for this novel come from?
I remember that it started with a conversation with my father about the name of a street in Vic, the little mountain town where I had spent all the summers of my childhood. It was named, my father told me, after Pierre-André Coffinhal, Vice President of the Revolutionary Tribunal. I knew nothing of that character. So I began to look into his life. That piqued my curiosity, about him and about the French Revolution.
Your female lead is the narrator of this story. Why did you choose to use first person? Could the story be told as well from a third person point of view?
I suppose it could. But I wanted to feel close to my heroine, Gabrielle, and at the same time her circumstances and environment are so different from mine. So the use of the first person helped me put myself in her shoes. It bridged the gap of the two centuries that separate us.
Tell us about Gabrielle. Will readers relate to her? Why will they care what happens to her?
I do hope so! I have spoken with my first readers about Gabrielle. Some find her feisty, some see her as a victim of the status of women in 18th century France. Others question her parenting skills, though all agree she means well by her daughter. I like this divergence of opinions. It means that I must have succeeded in creating a complex and true-to-life character. Not everyone likes her for the same reasons. This is what happens with real people.
Gabrielle is, as expected, a beautiful young woman, but her love interest, Pierre-André Coffinhal is not your typical stunningly handsome man found in many romance novels. Did you use actual historical descriptions of Pierre-André to create his character?
Oh yes. The real Coffinhal, from contemporary accounts, was no beauty. He was unusually tall and strong, with a booming voice. People describe him as dark-haired and “yellow-skinned.” Remember that it was a time when fair skin was equated with beauty. Coffinhal’s roughness was not only skin-deep. He was a violent, passionate man. As Josephine, the cook, says in the novel, he showed his enemies no mercy, and received none. I liked all of these traits in a character. It was so much more fun to write than the regular pretty-girl-meets-handsome-guy story.
The romance that takes place in Mistress of the Revolution is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Has this period in France’s history always fascinated you?
Oddly enough, not. I had always found that era chaotic and confusing until I began my research for the book. But when I started digging, I realized how fascinating, how modern in many ways, the French Revolution is. I was hooked.
What type of challenges did working within the confines of actual historical events and with historical figures present as you wrote this novel?
Actually, I felt that working within specific confines helped me. In many instances, I simply let the predetermined unfolding of historical events drive the plot and carry my characters forward.
What’s up next for you? Will we see a sequel that continues Gabrielle’s story?
I just completed my second novel, which is set a few years later, also in Paris. But it is not a sequel. The characters are totally different. I am actually thinking of a prequel, set one hundred years before Mistress of the Revolution. Yet I already have a draft story of Gabrielle’s life in London. I might some day pull these English chapters together into a full-blown sequel.
Where can readers purchase Mistress of the Revolution?
The novel can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and many independent bookstores. It is also available in ebook format. All the details can be found on my blog: http://blog.catherinedelors.com
Is there anything you would like to add?
Writing Mistress of the Revolution helped me at a very difficult time, when everything seemed to be going wrong for me. I feel that, thanks to the novel, my life was turned around. My mother says that I have been blessed in this endeavor of mine. I certainly hope that it continues this way…
Thank you for spending so much time with us today to discuss your work. I wish you all the success in the world.
BIG NEWS!!! AP REVIEWER M.L. JOHNSON SAYS THAT MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION IS "DEFINITELY A CONTENDER FOR ONE OF THE BEST READS OF THE YEAR." READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE!
Also, don't forget to check out my review of this gripping and romantic story. You'll find it here.
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