Sandra Gulland on 17th-century French theater, and a moving people's protest against authority.
Five years ago I went to Paris to research the life of Mademoiselle Claude des Oeillets. It was going to be a challenge, I knew. Claude--or Claudette, as I think of her--was a two-bit-player-turned-lady's maid, and she had lived over 250 years ago. As it is, there is often little in the historical records about the serving classes.
So you're an author, and your book is out there in the world. You've sweated and agonized and copy edited and re-read; in short, you've done everything you could to make sure your book is the best thing you can write at that moment. You wait nervously for its release. Will it sell? Will people like it? And then the reviews start to appear. Maybe it's a positive review (yeah!); maybe it's negative (ouch!), but the reviewer takes the time to explain what it is they didn't like about the book in a clear and fair way (still ouch, but okay, I get it, no book is for everyone).
If you ever wondered about the power of a little encouragement, whether it really can make a difference, read on!
Writing a novel about Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th century visionary abbess and polymath, was a daunting process. I felt intimidated to be writing about such a religious figure. The last thing I wanted to do was churn out preachy inspirational fiction which would be both unconvincing and hypocritical coming from me, a lapsed Catholic who falls under the "spiritual but not religious" umbrella. How could I make Hildegard's story seem fresh and relevant to a modern secular audience?
Why do we feel so satisfied when we engage our creativity? Why is singing, writing a play, cooking a wonderful meal, designing a building or outfit, composing a song or sonata, capturing a particular moment in a photograph, or coming up with a new idea, method, or a way of looking at things in the brainstorming session at work so fulfilling? Why does using our imagination feel so wonderful? Why does making the metaphor that perfectly describes something by comparing it to something else feel so gratifying? Why do people make art anyway? Why do people write?
I fell in love with vampires in the 1980's when I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. The language, the romanticism, the concept of an entire vampire society who lived for centuries and were cursed with having to kill to live was enthralling. The sexiness of Rice's vampires also made them irresistible. What red-blooded American fan of paranormal romance doesn't fantasize about being ravished by Lestat?