Today, Kerry Chaput, joins me on the blog to talk about her new book, Daughter of the King.
My first introduction to the story of the Filles du Roi (Daughters of the King) was while researching my husband’s French-Canadian ancestry. The Catholic records from Quebec are astounding. Detailed family trees, documents from the early settlers, and suggestions for further resources are just a few of the things I found. I discovered dozens of little fleur-de-lis symbols in his family tree and came to find out that these were the women responsible for populating what was then called New France.
I searched everything I could find on the Daughters of the King, early Quebec, the Protestant/Catholic struggle, and life in Seventeenth Century France. Videos of clothing from the area were especially helpful, as I didn’t know what a coiffe or a stay was. I scoured college bookstores and University libraries for books on King Louis XIV and French Canada.
My favorite tool for this project was Google maps in street view. It allowed me to simulate walking through La Rochelle and Old Town Quebec. This helped me write action scenes and zoom in on details on the buildings, giving me the feeling of wandering the cobblestone paths.
I also recommend organizations devoted to your subject matter. The Fille du Roi societies keep lists of the women with dates and biographies. Various Huguenot societies provided helpful details of life and beliefs of the French Protestants. Not only is their data accurate, but they tend to provide a more intimate look into the lives of who you are researching. Big sites like online encyclopedias give more general overviews, but it’s the small details that make a story come to life.
It’s easy to get swept up in the research, but the fun for me is putting that knowledge to work in your story. I continued to mix drafting and revising with online research. I’m a revision writer, so it gives me the freedom to pursue a storyline or plot idea first, sharpening the details later. I find it very helpful to write in layers, adding and trimming in multiple drafts. It’s tempting to spend three hours researching something like shoes or how candles were made, but you have to stop yourself from research paralysis and just write.
The benefit of writing historical fiction is how beautifully plot unfolds for you. History is full of fascinating and almost unbelievable stories. When you follow the research, sometimes it feels as if your story writes itself. It always amazes me that when you’re patient, little gifts land in your laptop. Sometimes exactly what you’re looking for comes up in an obscure memoir or interview. It’s hard not to see the magic in that. It feels like you are so connected to your story that history comes alive to show you what comes next.
I think the key to writing historical fiction is finding the theme that bonds people today with those from another time and place. It’s difficult to choose a story purely because it’s interesting. You must have a deep connection to it. It needs to speak to you on an emotional level. I think Daughter of the King tugged at me because it is such an incredible story. Orphans, recruited from their dire circumstances and given power, money, and protection. Three hundred and fifty years ago, and these women interviewed potential spouses to choose their preferred husbands! It was so unexpected that it gave me chills. And knowing that my daughters are descended from over three dozen of these women made the story that much more important to me.
I think this is why we read about people in history — to discover that humans are not that different from each other. Regardless of time or place, we all fight similar struggles.
Thank you so much for sharing with me. Good luck with the new book.
Here’s the blurb
La Rochelle France, 1661. Fierce Protestant Isabelle is desperate to escape persecution by the Catholic King. Isabelle is tortured and harassed, her people forced to convert to the religion that rules the land. She risks her life by helping her fellow Protestants, which is forbidden by the powers of France. She accepts her fate — until she meets a handsome Catholic soldier who makes her question everything.
She fights off an attack by a nobleman, and the only way to save herself is to flee to the colony of Canada as a Daughter of the King. She can have money, protection and a new life — if she adopts the religion she’s spent a lifetime fighting. She must leave her homeland and the promises of her past. In the wild land of Canada, Isabelle finds that her search for love and faith has just begun.
Based on the incredible true story of the French orphans who settled Canada, Daughter of the King is a sweeping tale of one young woman’s fight for true freedom. Kerry Chaput brings the past to life, expertly weaving a gripping saga with vivid historical details. Jump back in time on a thrilling adventure with an unforgettable heroine.
Violence, sexual assault
Read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.
Meet the Author
Born in California wine country, Kerry Chaput began writing shortly after earning her Doctorate degree. Her love of storytelling began with a food blog and developed over the years to writing historical fiction novels. Raised by a teacher of US history, she has always been fascinated by tales from our past and is forever intrigued by the untold stories of brave women. She lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon with her husband, two daughters, and two rescue pups. She can often be found on hiking trails or in coffee shops.
Connect with Kerry Chaput