Where do authors find their inspiration? Hemmingway said to “write drunk, edit sober”. But it often makes me wonder about how much truth are in those words. I don’t know about you but I, for one, couldn’t even write my name to save my life if I had a few glasses of wine in me. Heck, I can’t even finish one glass without face planting, to tell you the truth. So I’m in awe of anyone who can write an entire novel – sober or not.
I’m especially amazed when an author is able to write entire series based on historical figures. Imagine the research! Imagine the painstaking work they have to do to make sure that their work is close to accurate. Louis XV is one of those prominent historical figures whose taste in women rivals that of any womanizing men of power in history.
Today, Sally Christie, author of The Mistresses of Versailles shares with us her inspiration for her novels.
• Behind the Book by Sally Christie •
I’ve always been a writer in the sense that I have been writing since I was very young. I experience the world through stories and always had the urge to capture life around me in words. But it was just a hobby and I never actually finished any of my stories. After a change in circumstances a few years ago, I decided to take a year, write full-time, finish a book, and see if I could get it published.
I had a number of projects lined up (some fiction; some non-fiction; all historical) and was just about ready to go when I stumbled onto the story of the Mailly Nesle sisters and Louis XV while surfing Wikipedia one night. I was instantly hooked and amazed that I had never heard of them. The obscurity of their story (at least in the English-speaking world) was part of the appeal – I love the idea that I would be the first one to bring it to light.
I dropped all my other projects to write the book that eventually became The Sisters of Versailles. While I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking of a potential series. I knew about Louis XV’s subsequent mistresses, the much more famous Madame de Pompadour and the Comtesse du Barry, and just assumed they had been the subject of a lot of historical fiction.
When my agent asked about other books ideas around The Sisters of Versailles (sometimes it’s easier to sell a series, so a publishing house isn’t investing in an author with just one book) I looked at these other mistresses, and was amazed and excited to learn they had not been written about in English. They could be “mine”!
And so The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy was born: after Sisters, The Rivals of Versailles tells the story of Pompadour and the many minor mistresses that rivaled her for the king’s affection. Finally, The Enemies of Versailles tells the story of the lovely Comtesse du Barry and her enmity with Madame Adelaide, the king’s daughter, and follows them all the way up to the French Revolution, that ended so badly for so many of my characters.
With the publication of the third book and the end of the trilogy, I feel great gratitude that I was the one to tell the sad, funny, improbable and tragic stories of these influential women who helped to shape the 18th century.