Today I’m delighted to welcome David Loux to the blog to talk about the research for his new book, Chateau Laux.
Your book, Chateau Laux, is set in a time period I wouldn’t even know how to start writing about. As a historian first and foremost, and then a writer, I’m always interested in how people research their historical stories.
My research did not start out with a novel in mind. It began with an investigation of the Laux family surname in 2005. This research resulted in a lot of information related to the provenance of the name, which I presented in a paper addressed to a Laux family reunion in York, Pennsylvania, in 2010. It subsequently provided the foundational material for Chateau Laux.
Can you explain your research process to me, and give an idea of the resources that you rely on the most (other than your imagination, of course) to bring your historical landscape to life?
One of the challenges of historical research is that much valuable information is lost over the years—especially the good, warm-blooded stories of individual lives. Fortunately, interest in the Laux name goes back many years, and I was able to benefit from genealogical publications in 1910 that provided information which would have been increasingly difficult to access over time. Another very tangible benefit to my research was that the Laux name was of noble origin, which meant that I was able to discover information that went all the way back to the middle ages. Some of the information was in French and some was in Latin, and the wonderful research assistants at the Bibliothèque Nationale were a big help. I also benefited from connections made through the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada in Reno, which put me in touch with researchers familiar with Occitan names and pronunciations. Finally, and most importantly, family group members in southern France were able to provide information from archives that would have been unavailable from other sources.
Do you have a ‘go’ to book/resource that you couldn’t write without having to hand, and if so, what is it (if you don’t mind sharing)?
When I first started my research, I had very little idea of the milieu and other significant associations connected with the name, which means I had to keep an open mind and read anything I could get my hands on. There were many false starts and dead ends. As far as critical resources, I would have to say that Chateau Laux would not have been the same without the research assistance of the Bibliothèque Nationale, as they were able to provide context and authenticity that would otherwise have been elusive. But then again, every resource previously referred to was essential in its own way. It helps that I was able to read French, and to a lesser extent, Spanish, as some of the information was only available in those languages.
Thank you so much for sharing the research you undertook to write your book. It’s so fascinating to find out what makes people write the stories that they do.
Here’s the blurb;
A young entrepreneur from a youthful Philadelphia, chances upon a French aristocrat and his family living on the edge of the frontier. Born to an unwed mother and raised by a disapproving and judgmental grandfather, he is drawn to the close-knit family. As part of his courtship of one of the patriarch’s daughters, he builds a château for her, setting in motion a sequence of events he could not have anticipated.
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Meet the Author
David Loux is a short story writer who has published under pseudonym and served as past board member of California Poets in the Schools. Chateau Laux is his first novel. He lives in the Eastern Sierra with his wife, Lynn.
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Thank you MJ for your thoughtful questions and the forum to share my answers. Best wishes with your blog and your own work. David Loux.