Friday, September 23, 2011

Anatomy of a Novel – Part 1 – Why I’ve Written “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter.”

In a very short time now, my novel about a French Huguenot family entitled “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter,” will be published by CreateSpace and available on in paperback, as well as on Kindle. It has been a labour of love now for over five years. 

When I was a teenager, my aunt, who knew the family history much better than my father did, informed me that we had Huguenot ancestors. I was always determined to find out who they were; so in 1976, I began my search for my Family History. It was a lot more difficult in those days. Without the internet, one had to travel to, or write letters back and forth to the various repositories in England and Scotland. There were also, of course, the local Family History Branches of the Mormon Church. These were open to all Family Historians regardless of their religion. However, even if you found a source, the local branch had to order the microfilms from Salt Lake City. Even then, you could run up against a blank wall. So it was all very slow. Of course, the internet and its multitude of Family History sites today have made it a lot less complicated. 

I was fortunate that shortly after I began, I made contact with an unknown second cousin in England; who previously only knew that my grandfather had taken his family to Canada, and was hardly ever heard from again. It was a great reunion when I was able to go to London to meet the descendants of my grandfather’s brothers.

To make a long story short, eventually I was able to make the French Connection, and discover just who my particular Huguenots ancestors were. They were brave people who left  hearth and home in the 17th century, and make their way, through many dangers, to London to start afresh in the area known as Spittlefields. While there are many non-fiction books written about that historical event, there is very little in the way of novels about Huguenot families and what they experienced. 

I also was fortunate to “meet” on-line, a Frenchman in Lyon, who was the descendant of my ancestor’s brother. His ancestor had chosen to stay in his beloved country as a secret Huguenot, an equally dangerous thing to do. It was discussing with him the different choices that each brother made, that I began finally to have the idea of a plot for my novel.

They say, “If you can't find the novel you would like to read, write it yourself.” Which is the reason, I have written a novel based on this research. It is founded on the few facts I have about my Huguenot ancestors. The rest is purely fiction. Before I started to write my book, I visited the ancestral places in France and England and saw with my own eyes the village where my people originated. It was a very beautiful spot that touched my heart.

“However they did it, my ancestors  managed to make  their way to London where they shaped admirable lives for themselves. In the novel, the hero, Pierre Garneau, tends to be typical of Huguenot philosophy in his beliefs and behaviour. I am happy to say that over the period of the story, he learns moderation in his judgments and enough wisdom to realize his own shortcomings.

As I say, the story is completely fiction, but many of the events did happen to some Huguenots. I feel that, in a time when there are still places in the world where a man can't follow his own conscience, the bravery of these people has an important message for us all. I hope others find it interesting and informative. 


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