1. Marci, although I read and enjoyed your debut novel, Girl on the Golden Coin, many of my readers may not be familiar with you and your work. Would you tell us about yourself, and a little about your debut novel?
Hi Lesa! I’m thrilled you enjoyed Girl on the Golden Coin. When absolute Monarchs ruled from glittering seventeenth century courts, Frances Stuart captured the hearts of Louis the Fourteenth, Charles the Second, and James the Second. She also happened to grace England’s coins as the model for Britannia. I first learned about the Stuart Royals during a visit to London. I was riding atop a red double-decker bus when someone said, “There’s the Banqueting House, where Charles I was beheaded.” I’d been under the impression that only kings ordered beheadings! I decided to research everything about the Stuarts that my nursing professors didn’t bother teaching me in nursing school. Eventually, that research turned into writing.
2. You write historical novels about women who are not household names. Why the interest in historical fiction and women?
I spent a good deal of my childhood growing up in Yorktown, Virginia, where locals still tell Revolutionary War tales. Most of those tales were of men - brave generals and soldiers. But I was always interested in the roles women played in major events - where were they? Despite having few rights throughout most of history, women were indeed active, either influencing or defying powerful men, and sometimes forging their own destinies.
3. Without spoilers, would you tell us about your new book, Enchantress of Paris?
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini’s birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother’s dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie’s charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin’s ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin’s deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis’ love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
4. How do you research your books?
I read, read, then read some more! Since almost none of my characters are fictional, I find biographies most helpful. I can’t even tell you how many I’ve read throughout the years. But I also research general history books to gain an understanding of the political landscape. I scour maps. I wade through every source from my era plucking out period and cultural details. Sometimes I contact archivists in the area I’m researching to request copies of source materials that real historians research, such as letters and wills.
5. What authors inspired you?
Philippa Gregory, Margaret George, Tracy Chevalier, and Michelle Moran have probably inspired me and my work.
6. Can you tell us about the book you're working on now?
My novel in progress is top secret at the moment! But I can tell you about a short story I have coming out in March, 2016 in the anthology, A Fall of Poppies, Stories of Love and the Great War, along with fellow authors Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig.
The Great War has ravaged Europe, leaving devastated landscapes and scarred psyches in its wake. In spite of the peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918--Armistice Day--war still rages within. Men and women, those who fought and those who watched from the sidelines, pick up the pieces of their shattered lives: widows dream of revenge, nurses withhold their secrets, prisoners plan for escape, lovers reunite, and the product of violence brings an innocent war-child. The guns have stopped, but courage and resolve are still tested. In the deep silence of the ceasefire, peace does little to hinder the emotional battles still to come. Yet on the scorched battlefields, a fall of poppies brings hope.
7. I'm a librarian, so I always end with the same question. Do you have a story to tell us about libraries?
I adore librarians! I couldn't do my work without the wonderful (and unendingly patient) librarians at the Allen County Public Library in Indiana, where I live. They happen to have a huge selection with almost everything I’ve needed for my research, delivering cartloads of books to me from their numerous branches and deep storage facility. And when they don’t own a book, they try to get their hands on it for me by borrowing from another library system.
Marci Jefferson's website is www.marcijefferson.com
Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson. St. Martin's Press. 2015. ISBN 9781250057099 (hardcover), 336p.