For almost a year I have been working on a novel called The Blue Rose.
It tells the story of Viviane de Ravoisier, the daughter of a French marquis, and David Stronach, a Welsh gardener who travels to her chateau in Brittany to design and plant an English-style garden. The two fall in love, but their passion is forbidden. David is driven away and Viviane is married against her will to a duc. She is taken to the palace of Versailles where she witnesses the early days of the French Revolution. Through her eyes, I tell the story of the fall of the Bastille, the abolition of the nobility, and the beginning of the Terror.
I imagine the Chateau de Belisima-sur-le-lac looking a little like this chateau in Brittany, the Château de Trécesson:
I first discovered this chateau when someone posted a picture of it on Facebook, wondering what the chateau was called. It was so like what I imagined Viviane's home looking like, I went and searched on the internet until I located it and it has been my desktop picture ever since.
I have a very visual imagination and so I am always printing out pictures and sticking them in my notebooks, or pinning them on Pinterest (you can check out all the pictures on my Pinterest page if you like.)
I also like to collect small artefacts that help inspire my imagination.
The first is a small miniature of a 18th century French noblewoman that I bought on Etsy. It's the most exquisite little painting, and it has work dits way into the story as a miniature of Viviane's mother, who died the day she was born.
My other treasure, I found in an old antique shop in France when I was there two years ago researching this book.
It is a huge old key. The man in the antique shop told me that it was the key to a chateau that had been burned during the french revolution. The key was found in the chateau well 270 years later. No-one knows who threw it in the well, or why. This story really intrigued me and so I bought the key, and it now hangs on my wall.
This anecdote too has worked its way into the story.
This week, I finished Part II of The Blue Rose and reached the halfway point at 60,000 words in total.
My action now moves from France to a ship sailing around the world to China.
I plan to go to China with my son in mid-May. Maybe I will find some fascinating artefact there that will inspire me anew. I hope so!