This is a quick note just to report that The Task Master loved the revision of the last bit. He does not use the word love often!
I’m now making final revisions to this draft, which I promised my agent on April 1, but which I might—just might—get to her sooner. (Yay!) At the same time, the draft will go back to The Task Master for a final edit. I will also send it to The All-Knowing One (John Golder, my invaluable 17th century theatre consultant).
Come the middle of April and May, with all this feedback in hand, I will get to work on the next draft, which will go to my publisher May 31st.
So right now I feel I have just a bit of a breather. I’ve been going though my file of Novel notes—throwing many of the scraps out, and keeping some too.
I also had a chance this morning to (finally!) answer emails about two festivals I will be speaking at this summer…
The Banff Book Discussion Weekend, May 27 – 29, Banff, Alberta. There I will be giving two readings, plus a banquet speech. (Yes, I’ll have to brush up my speaking skills!) (And think about outfits.)
Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, August 4-7, Sechelt, British Columbia. Some very good writer friends—Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady—will be there as well, so I’m really looking forward to it.
And then, out of the blue, my agent forwarded me an invitation to write a short “easy-to-read” novel aimed at adult non-readers (or adults who are learning to read English) for Good Reads. In the glow of glimpsing the light at the end of this particular tunnel, I expressed serious interest in this offer. The due date is far into the future, the authors participating are admirable, and the project itself (literacy!) is one dear to my heart.
And so, with all that, to lunch. Next up: the title debate.
I’m posting this delightful and interesting comment on behalf of Jordan, who for some reason is unable to post through Disqus. (I’d love to figure out why.)
Congratulations on the Task Master loving your revision. It makes me so eager to read the new novel! Thinking back to your writing style from previous books, I’m trying to imagine Claude’s voice as you might interpret it.
I just reread Mistress of the Sun a couple of months ago, and I came away surprised at how much dialogue there is, all of it excellent, and wondering why I missed this the first time. (I was probably just wrapped up in the story). It makes me reflect upon different writers’ approaches to narrative. Edith Wharton always filled her books with so much description — description of rooms, curtains, spreads of food, not to mention description of the characters’ emotions. I tend to think of Mistress of the Sun as being more like Hemingway: Not everything is made explicit by the author’s voice, and we’re invited to interpret meaning by closely observing what the characters are saying — or not saying — to one another. (This is ironic, of course, considering that your aristocratic subject matter is closer to Wharton’s). Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into this, and maybe you’re approaching the Next Novel in a different fashion. But that’s what I’ve come away with.
On another note, I found something funny online.
Having exhausted most of the English-language material on Louis XIV’s Versailles, I’ve attempted to seek out French books on this subject and translate them using my admittedly imperfect grasp of the language. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it, considering that, unsurprisingly, French-language books are a much richer source of insight regarding the goings-on at court.
Recently, I found myself reading a 1892 book about the House of Orleans and, over the course of several pages, the author transcribes some of Princess Palatine’s best quotes, taken from her letters. (Given your interest in possibly writing a novel about her, you can surely imagine their pithiness!) Among her blunt proclamations is one about Madame de Montespan. Reading it, I knew I had to forward you the quote, since, in addition to being amusing, I thought it shed light on a debate that took place a few months ago in the comments section of your website: Did Athenais gain weight because of alcoholism? Graves’ disease? Too many pregnancies? Too much foie gras?
For someone who was no sylph herself, the princess had some rather caustic opinions — and some rather specific anatomical descriptions — on the subject. Here is my rough translation, taken from a letter dated 1674 (when Athenais was at the height of her power over the king, just after Louise left for the convent):
“This beauty has fattened, just like her brother… Already thick of waist, with a heavy and cumbersome rump, she eats more than the king himself. She’s the first eater of the Kingdom. And no man could hope to drink more while still keeping his head.”
It’s no surprise, of course, that Athenais liked to “live it up” during her years at the summit of power. The funniest part of this quote, in my opinion, is the princess’s notion that she was the First Eater of the Kingdom, which almost sounds like an official title. Anyway, the book is “Les d’Orleans au tribunal de l’histoire…” by Th. P. Gazeau de Vautibault. Perhaps you’ve already come across this title in your research. If not, the entire tome is readable on Google Books, and the Palatine quote, in French, is on page 184. I highly recommend it.
Jordan, as always, your letters are rich. Thank you so much. I do like dialogue–all that air and white space on the page. And I like to leave a lot unsaid–perhaps more than my editors like.
I love the quote about Athénaïs. There was something ravenous about her. You might find my “take” on her in my next novel of interest, somewhat sympathetic, at least in her early years.
Congratulations on the well-received revision and the offer from Goodreads. Literacy is near to my heart too.
Hi Lilian, thank you, but as you know, it has a long way yet to go.
I’m interested in the Good Reads publications: Over the years, I’ve jotted down ideas for stories that were more suited to novella length work. This might suit. (MIGHT.)
Congratulations on the acceptance of your novel! (By Random House, I recall?)
Thanks for the update! How exciting!!