probably lacking in any real love or affection, perhaps bullied and abused.
He would be likely to grow up ashamed of his own heritage, and with a great
deal of emotional baggage.
would have been ten years old when the Revolution began, and in his early
teens when the violence was at its height. If he was thrust into the heart
of that violence and horror, the effect on him would be considerable.
I visited France twice. On the first occasion I drove down through France, trying to visit the modern equivalents of the places Javert would have visited. The Tour Royale was still there (now a museum). Sadly it was closed for safety reasons, but I was still able to prowl around the exterior and get a feel for the place. Some of the actual coastline has changed very little.
In Paris, I again visited all the places that crop up in the novel and tried to let my imagination run riot. For some reason, night time seemed the best for that, maybe because it was quiet. Standing in the middle of the Notre Dame bridge at midnight, it wasn’t difficult to imagine the way things might have been in the early 1830’s.
I also visited several museums, art galleries etc dedicated to the history of the French Revolution, including the Conciergerie where the victims of the guillotine were imprisoned whilst awaiting their fate. The friend who accompanied me was a French speaker, which helped a great deal.
So far as reading research was concerned, I read a great deal about the history of the French Revolution, and its causes. One excellent source for the early part of my novel was Hilary Mantel’s ‘A Place of Greater Safety.’ The primary source for the latter part of my novel was, not surprisingly, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
How to market effectively was a horse of a different colour. It still is! I have learnt a lot about the use of Facebook, forums, freebie sites etc – but the more I learn, the more I realise how ignorant I still am.
It is difficult to strike the right balance. I want and need to promote, but I don’t want to spam or become a pain in the proverbial. Looking at the Amazon forums, the constant self-promotion by some Indies really is excessive and irritating.
The experienced Indies on the forums all say that it takes time, so I guess I need to learn something that comes hard to me – namely, patience. A friend of mine has summed it up beautifully – ‘Remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!’
My confidence was actually boosted by my second rejection, when the person signing the standard worded rejection letter added a handwritten sentence ‘I really like this book – I’m afraid we are publishing very little historical fiction nowadays.’ (I know my genre is not one of the most popular sellers). It would be great if more publishers would take that few seconds to encourage a good writer!
Will I try the traditional publishing route again? I’m not sure yet. The pros of TP are, of course, the cash in hand of the advance, and the perceived kudos of being traditionally published. The downsides are the treadmill and the long delay between acceptance and getting the book out there. If I can get my marketing right and Barricades sells a respectable number of copies, I may not try the TP route. Self publishing is very hard work, but that would make a degree of success even more rewarding, just because I have put so much into it.