Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Writer's Inspiration: France

From where do you get the ideas of your stories?
How do you decide where to set your plot?
Are your characters real?

Of all the countries I visited, France has always been my favorite. Maybe because of its rich culture and history, or maybe because I am fluent in French and have several friends living in Paris who always welcome me. Although Paris would inspire any visitor fabulous dreams, there is more to France than its capital. [Click on the pictures to enlarge them]

A few years ago, my husband rented a car and we toured the Loire Valley.

I was impressed by the magnificence of the French Chateaux.

The Chateau de Chambord, the most somptuous one, was built by King François I and inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The Chateau d'Amboise was built over an old roman fortress.

The Chateau de Chaumont, built in the 10th century, is one of the oldest castles in the Loire Valley.

Villandry is better known for the magnificent gardens surrounding the castle.

The Chateau de Blois has been the residency of several French kings. It is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English out of Orleans.

The Chateau de Cheverny was built between 1630 and 1640.

While visiting so many famous castles, including Chenonceau, called the Ladies' Castle, I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in lavishly decorated galleries and plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. I don’t write historical romances but kept thinking about the settings.

A year later, my niece enthusiastically related her summer training in a French chateau. As an American student in Architecture from Harvard University, she was offered the unique opportunity to work on the restoration of a chapel in France.

When I asked jokingly, “Was the owner a haughty old man?” My niece answered: “He was a young, handsome count and the five girls in my team had a crush on him. He dated my friend.”

Oh, oh. Chateau. Handsome count. Training on a historical chapel. Maybe looking for a historical statue. I had an epiphany. Here was my story premise. Below is the chateau I used in my story.

When I pitched it to an agent at the RWA conference, she suggested I change the plot to make it a romantic suspense. I took her suggestion to heart and upped the stakes with a missing statue and the murder of a professor.

French Peril was born.

Categories: Romantic Suspense
Book Type: eBook
Publisher: Cerridwen Press
ISBN: 9781419917189

What could be more exciting for a young American architect than to live in a French chateau owned by a young count and to work on the restoration of a chapel in the Loire Valley?
But when her professor is poisoned because he knew too much about a missing statue, Cheryl's summer job changes into a dangerous treasure hunt and Count François is faced with a difficult choice:
Are the statue and his chateau worth endangering the life of the impetuous young woman who's turned his life upside down?


Molly Daniels said...

Is Versailles still standing? (Showing my ignorance here...)

Mona Risk said...

Versailles is a gorgeous chateau and the most famous in Europe. Oh yes, it is still standing and visited by more tourists than any other castle or museum. It is in a different area at about forty minutes west of Paris while the Vallée de la Loire is two hours further west.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is and as beautiful as ever. We traveled all over France but I was so young I barely remember anything other than the major structures and personal experiences of being there.

So nice to see these shots, Mona. Thanks for the trip back in time. Good to see you, too. For a while there you weren't blogging much but I think that's while you were in China?

Molly Daniels said...

I love all these pics of places I'll probably never get to visit! I've only ventured into Canada; Vancouver and Ottowa.

Would LOVE to go to Greece and Italy! And France...Germany...England... Scotland...Ireland...