Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interview with Marci Jefferson & Book Review

I’d like to welcome Marci to my blog today to talk with me about what Historical fiction means to her and the importance of it. Also at the end of the interview I have shared a few of my thoughts about her book, Enchantress of Paris

Marci, what are the periods of history focused on for your writing?

Enchantress of Paris is set in seventeenth century France, during the reign of Louis XIV.

Why Historical Fiction?

I spent a good deal of my childhood growing up in Yorktown, Virginia, where locals still tell Revolutionary War tales. Most of those tales were of men - brave generals and soldiers. But I was always interested in the roles women played in major events - where were they? Despite having few rights throughout most of history, women were indeed active, either influencing or defying powerful men, and sometimes forging their own destinies.

When did you know you wanted be a Historical Fiction writer?

I was riding atop a red double-decker bus when someone said, “There’s the Banqueting House, where Charles I was beheaded.” I’d been under the impression that only kings ordered beheadings! I decided to research everything about the Stuart family that my nursing professors didn’t bother teaching me in nursing school. Eventually, that research turned into writing my debut novel, Girl on the Golden Coin. And I've been writing historical fiction ever since!

How much time do you spend on research? What sources do you use?

I spend way too much time on research!  I read, read, then read some more! Since almost none of my characters are fictional, I find biographies most helpful. I can’t even tell you how many I’ve read throughout the years. But I also research general history books to gain an understanding of the political landscape. I scour maps. I wade through every source from my era plucking out period and cultural details. Sometimes I contact archivists in the area I’m researching to request copies of source materials that real historians research, such as letters and wills.

What do you feel is the importance of Historical Fiction?

One of my high school teachers had a poster on the wall that read, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It struck me. I decided I didn’t want to make the mistakes of my forefathers, so I’ve always approached my historical research with an analytical eye. However, as the old adage goes, history is written by the victors. We cannot assume that all we’ve been taught about how our modern world was shaped is accurate. We must strive to know the facts and seek alternate points of view if we want to understand. I think historical fiction is special because it animates those alternate points of view. Historical fiction engages people, putting fresh perspective on old stories.

Who are your influences?

Philippa Gregory, Margaret George, Tracy Chevalier, and Michelle Moran.

How much fiction (in your opinion) is best to blend with historical facts?

In the historical genre, I believe the facts should structure the fiction. I strive to be as historically accurate as possible, though I’m an amateur historian. In my novels, readers will find fictionalized answers to questions unanswered in the history books. I hope readers will also consider history to be not only a setting in my novels, but an active part of the plot, a character at times, and motivation for everything that happens.

How do you feel the genre has progressed in the last ten years?

The last ten years have seen a great deal more historical fiction with a literary bend than the prior decade. It is a genre always in flux. Currently, the most popular period is World War I, but I think a good royal adventure like Enchantress of Paris will always intrigue readers.

What are the important steps in writing Historical Fiction?

Do your homework. Research, research, then research some more. Research until you can make history part of your story, not just a background. If you write about a historical figure, remember to be true to that person’s spirit.

What must you not do writing in this genre?

You must not get tripped up by anachronisms. Tempting as it may be, in historical fiction you cannot have Louis XIV behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce! And you can’t have Louis XIV and Marie Mancini take a stroll past the Eiffel Tower!

When writing, do you use visuals to give you inspiration? Such as historical pictures of people, castles, and owns? What about historical objects?

Oh yes, I have copies of Marie Mancini’s portraits hanging on my walls. Maps of seventeenth century Paris strewn about my desk. And I have copies of seventeenth century astrological almanacs, ones Marie Mancini may have read, on my bookshelf.



About the Book, Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court


The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.

Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
 My thoughts:

It’s not often I read historical Romance. Matter of fact, I read one last year that took place in France that was in the same genre. It was enough for me for a while. I have become extremely selective in this genre for many reason but I will not touch on that today. But I will say that I’ve read a ton of books that takes place in royal courts and I wanted something new and fresh. However, when I was first approached about reviewing this story, I was hesitate but when I read the title, premise, and book cover, it appealed to me instantly. Not having the opportunity to read Marci’s first book, Girl on the Golden Coin-which I hear nothing but praise, I had to read this one to find out about Marci’s amazing craft of writing. Does Marci pull it off in Enchantress? Well, yes. I believe she has. Here’s why. For a women to capture a King’s love and hold it amongst a vast court of women’s intrigue in wanting to capture his attention. Marie held her own despite the odds and danger against her and she did it brilliantly. Not only that, she defies her uncle-a powerful Cardinal-time and time again. Alas, in the beginning of the story, I wasn’t too sure about her. Having read on, Marc builds on Marie’s character, wit, charm and strength. But all is not well in the French court or the young King’s will or power.

King Louis is another matter altogether. I wanted to dive in the story and shake him to no end. That’s all I can say about that. I don’t want to give spoilers away. Marci did a superb job in her character development. There were quite a few characters I loved to hate in this story. A major plus.

French court intrigue, romance, politics, danger, passion, charm, atmospheric, solid plot, great supporting characters. This story has it all. I’m rating this book four and a half stars! A must read!

Stephanie M. Hopkins.

Be sure to check out Marci’s blog tour appearance and to find out more about her writing, her website!