THE BLUE ROSE: I've started writing the new novel

I've begun writing my new novel, The Blue Rose.

it's always really thrilling to start putting words down. I've been thinking and planning and day-dreaming this novel for about three months now (I began work on it on Sunday 23rd July, on the night of the new moon).

For those of you who have not been following my creative journey with this novel, here is a brief outline:

The Blue Rose is a historical novel for adults set in the late 18th century and moving between France during the 'Terror' of the French Revolution and Imperial China, a mysterious and scarcely discovered land of mandarins with long curving fingernails and concubines with bound feet. The book is inspired by the true story of a quest for a blood-red rose that blooms even in winter.

This is a picture of Rosa semperflorens, the ruby-red repeat-flowering rose brought back from China in the late 18th century. It is the ancestor of all our modern-day red roses.

In the past three months, I have been to London and spent a week in the Chinese archives of the British Library:

I went to Paris and Versailles where many of my scenes are set:

I travelled to Wales to research the life of my hero, a Welsh gardener (and along the way visited Caerphilly Castle and Tredegar House and Fleur-de-Lis, a most unusually named Welsh village where I imagined my hero may have grown up).

I also visited many 18th century gardens for inspiration for the romantic garden at the heart of The Blue Rose.

Cerney Garden, in the Cotswolds

Coughton Court, in the Cotswolds

I’d already filled up one notebook with timelines, scene outlines, character sketches and research notes, and have now typed up all my thoughts and ideas, then printed them out to stick in a new notebook.

During the last few months of thinking and day-dreaming and planning, a few of my ideas have changed. I had initially imagined my heroine living in a chateau in the Loire Valley. I even visited the Loire last year to get some ideas and inspiration. I had a very clear idea of what the chateau looked like, however, and nothing I saw seemed close enough. Then one day someone posted a photo of a chateau in Brittany on Facebook and it looked so much like what I imagined my heroine’s home to look like that I had to go and read up about it. It’s called the Chateau de Trecesson and it sparked so many ideas for me that I had to move my story from the Loire to the Paimpont Forest in Brittany, a place deeply steeped in Athurian mythology. I also changed my heroine’s name from Rosemunde to Viviane. As soon as I had the right name for her, she came to life in my imagination.

The French actress Marine Vacth who looks how I imagine my heroine Viviane would look

My character outline for Viviane

Brittany in the time of the French Revolution

Chateau de Trecesson in Brittany

The Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard, who is my visual inspiration for my hero David

I began writing on Friday October 20th (again on the time of the new moon) and now I am aiming to write one chapter every week (that’s about 4,000 words). There will be weeks when I simply cannot manage it, but I’ll try.

So far my word count is 5,665 words and so its very much early days … however, once I get into the flow those words will start piling up fast.

Want to know more about The Blue Rose? Read about the first inspiration for the novel.

Kate Forsyth
Written by

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