As an author of emotive, literary-leaning historical fiction bringing past cultures to life, my mantra is to impart hopeful human stories that are not only entertaining, but also inspire positive change and encourage an intimate relationship with the natural environment.
In my writing, I add a dose of magic, myth, and romance, distilled and blended with captivating settings -- bucolic hamlets set in majestic mountains and dramatic river gorges, rolling plains, seaside ports, rustic inns, exquisitely crafted châteaux, flamboyant soirees, colorful markets and fêtes, mysterious carvings and symbology, ancient menhirs and dolmens. These all come together as inspirational backdrops for the journeys of those who had the courage, tenacity, and transcendent vision to overcome oppression and danger arising from greed in the name of "the" church, "the" ruler, "the" tradition. I tell stories of divisions, rivalries, and love -- of hard choices and hard lessons learned. I hope you will enjoy the twists and turns, and revealing of secrets as you read my novels.
Though my career path has been a crooked road, it seems I was preparing for writing my debut novel, The Muse of Freedom, all along the way. At University, I studied medieval history, ancient Greek culture, anthropology, folklore, narrative composition, and architectural design. My years in the design field taught me the principles of balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity, (all important in writing a novel). I also spent many years in marketing--which was an early outlet for creative writing--and writing freelance narrative non-fiction for print and online publications in the responsible travel sector.
But over twenty years ago, I decided -- someday -- I would write about my 8th great-grandfather, French Huguenot Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac, (Jehan BonDurant as I call him in the novel). Jean Pierre’s motivation to give everything up and flee the France always intrigued me, and I knew there were many sides to the story during this divisive period that needed to find a voice.
I began some intensive training in novel writing, including under writing geniuses Libbie Hawker / Olivia Hawker and Roz Morris, all while studying late 17th century Languedoc customs and politics with a deep dive into research on the Bondurants. I found many surprising details along the way, including old recipe books (grimoires) in Occitan commonly used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance with recipes for herbal cures and word amulets.
When health challenges made it necessary to quit my 60-80 hour a week job, I chose to look at it as a blessing. Finally, I was able to focus my efforts on this novel. Although the progress has been slow at times -- due to flare-ups in a lung condition -- writing was one thing that I knew I could do.
After gathering research and traveling to locations in the Cévennes mountains of France to learn more and embody the culture, I began a year of intensive courses and training in writing historical fiction. In order to work with a weekly critique partner, it took about two years to complete the manuscript and I have an additional six months invested in final edits. I developed the plot out of a timeline of known events as well as many days (and sleepless nights) of allowing the “muse” to guide me. Low and behold, Jehan’s own muse became part of the story. I had intended to develop a fictional love interest but I didn’t know, until I opened up to it, that it would be a free-spirited, mystic holy woman!
I hope that you will hold a place in your heart for those who have struggled to escape persecution or oppression of any sort -- past and present.
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History teaches us that oppression comes from greed and greed comes from a fear of lack. Lack of food, water, land, money, attention, affection, control, power -- it goes on. When fear is allowed to take over in our minds, it can result in separation and divisions that soon become hateful, and often violent. The circle of fear stops with each individual. I ask that we learn from history and choose love not fear. When we choose love, it will encourage others to do the same and give us hope for humanity.
Take it a step further and join me in supporting the International Rescue Committee who responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises providing clean water, shelter, health care, education and empowerment support to refugees and displaced people. A percentage of my book sales goes to the IRC.
Welcome! Join me in historical fiction with a dose of magic, myth, and romance, distilled and blended with captivating settings as inspirational backdrops.
These are stories of hope where courage, tenacity, transcendent vision, and the power of love are called upon to overcome oppression and dangerous divisions.
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