I’ve been tagged by the talented historical thriller writer Nancy Bilyeau (author of The Crown) in a blog game called The Next Big Thing. The game involves authors answering questions about their work in progress (aka WIP). So I am “it” for the moment, and I am off to the 16th century to talk about the mother-daughter story I am writing. Come along! Will my WIP be the next big thing? I sure hope so, but only readers can make that decision.

Here we go. . . my answers to the OFFICIAL “Ten Questions for The Next Big Thing”:

1. What is the working title of your book?

Daughter of de Medici

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Young Marguerite de Valois as painted by Clouet

It sprang from the intersection between two strong personal interests. First, I have been fascinated with the Valois royal line since I read Alexandre Dumas’ book La Reine Margot as a teen, and I’ve been particularly obsessed with the oft maligned Marguerite de Valois, youngest daughter of Catherine de Medici and Henri II of France. Second, I have a preoccupation with the relationships that shape women’s lives—especially formative female-to-female relationships. Daughter of de Medici unites those two interests by exploring the sacred, complicated and oh-so-seminal mother-daughter relationship with Marguerite de Valois and Catherine de Medici as main characters.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fiction. I just can’t imagine writing about the present.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would cast Keira Knightley to play Marguerite as she has both the beauty (Marguerite was often called the loveliest woman in France) and the depth for the role. If Keira was busy I’d cast Natalie Portman. I’d want Virna Lisi to play Catherine de Medici because she did a breathtaking job in that role in Patrice Chéreau’s 1994 film La Reine Margot.

As for the men in Marguerite’s life, I would cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Henri, Duc de Guise (Marguerite’s first love) or Robert Pattinson if Benny is deemed too old. I’d choose Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Marguerite’s older brother Henri, Duc d’Anjou (future Henri III of France) and Nicholas Hoult as her younger brother François, Duc d’Alençon. I am genuinely stumped on casting Henri de Navarre (Marguerite’s husband and the future Henri IV of France). I am sure the moment I post this I will think of THE perfect casting but for now I’d probably choose Jesse Eisenberg or Anton Yelchin.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Not really a synopsis—more of a tag line: “Every mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril. Her mother was Catherine de Medici.”

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am traditionally published and plan, at least for the moment, to stay that way.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Um. . .I am not done yet so I can’t say. My debut novel, The Sister Queen, took me about 9 months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d like to think I am unique (wouldn’t we all), and I hope that most fans of historical fiction will like my novels. Reviewers of my debut novel suggested that I’d appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory, Jean Plaidy, Sharon Kay Penman and Carolly Erickson among others.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by Marguerite de Valois. I think she is too often either overlooked by history or unfairly portrayed.

Both Marguerite and her mother Catherine de Medici are the stuff of legend—and legend hasn’t been very kind to either woman. I believe that this is largely the result of the political and dynastic struggles which consumed France during the Wars of Religion, generating slanderous publications about the Valois—including the notorious Divorce Satryique that painted Marguerite as a corrupt wanton and which eventually came to be accepted as historical truth—and assuring that they had many enemies. When the Valois dynasty ended (with Marguerite’s brothers/Catherine’s sons), there was no one to protect their legacy as history was being written. I was interested in giving readers a more fair and accurate view of Marguerite who was, in fact, not only one of the most beautiful women of the French Court but also one of the most intelligent. Had she lived in England, Marguerite might have ended up on the throne after the death of her final brother. But Salic Law assured that she remained nothing more than a pawn in the marriage games of her family, and her mother’s political pragmatism and voracious appetite for power assured that Marguerite’s personal desires were never regarded in that process.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I believe this book will resonate deeply with a majority of women. We have all been daughters, and the novel focuses on timeless mother-daughter issues.  For example: the desire for parental love even where a parent is neglectful or toxic; the tendency of some parents to superimpose their own dreams on their children; the hunger of a daughter for her mother’s approval; the necessary struggle that occurs in adolescence between mother and daughter as the younger woman graduates from childhood to independent adulthood.

Well that’s it oh faithful blog readers. Thanks again to Nancy Bilyeau for tagging me. I am about to pass the torch to writers whose work I admire. When it comes to these folks I am just as eager as anyone to find out what their next BIG thing is:

David Abrams (author of Fobbit)

Christy English (author of To Be Queen, The Queen’s Pawn and How to Tame a Willful Wife)

Anne Barnhill (author of At the Mercy of the Queen)

Susan Spann

Please visit their blogs. They will be publishing their answers to the questions in week 14 (between the 25th September and the 1st of October)

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:

Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

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4 Responses to “Tagged: The Next Big Thing – Find Out What I am Working on Now”

  1. Exciting! I’ve been wondering what was next for you after The Sister Queens.

  2. Sounds like another winner! Marguerite is unfamiliar territory for me so I’m looking forward to getting to know her via your capable hands!

  3. Your next book sounds fantastic! I want it now…

  4. I’m so excited to read your next book! Loved The Sister Queens!

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