Today, Melanie Rose is on The Edible Bookshelf talking about the inspiration behind Violet Shadows, and about her writing life and future projects. Read on to find out more!
1. What was your inspiration for "Violet Shadows?" The character of Violet/Marie was introduced in my earlier novel, Ashford, as a side character. She was one of my favorite characters to write, so it seemed natural to continue her story. Though Violet Shadows is not a sequel, per se, there are a few references which readers of Ashford will appreciate. I've been fascinated for years with the French Resistance during WWII and particularly with the young English women who went to France under cover, so the research for Violet Shadows was particularly enjoyable.
2. What spurred Marie/Violet to engage in such dangerous work? Basically, it's revenge, though that's mixed with plenty of other motives. Early on we learn that her only brother Tristan was a Royal Air Force pilot who was killed when his plane was shot down over Germany. His death left her alone, and her personality is the sort that uses action to overcome grief. Working with the resistance is her way of punishing the people who killed her brother...at first anyway.
3. Jean is paired with Marie as she works. Can you tell us a little about his character? Jean is that co-worker we've all had...he's annoying and kind of creepy and you wish you could avoid him but you can't because he's really fairly good at his job. He has good points. He's brave, and, like I said, he's good at his job, but he's also overconfident, and he's a complete opportunist. He doesn't really care about anyone but himself. Even though he's her partner, Marie can't ever quite bring herself to trust him.
4. Marie is struck by Father Michel's attitude and the way he carries himself. Can you tell us more about this character? Father Michel is one of my favorite characters. When I was doing the research for Violet Shadows I came across a lot of information about Catholic priests who worked with the resistance movement, in France and elsewhere, during the war. The Vatican's official status of neutrality created the perfect cover, and many priests became leaders within the movement. That's where Father Michel came from. In many ways he is the real hero of the story. He is constantly pulled between what he feels to be his duty to protect the innocent, and his fear that the resistance fighters will descend to the same level as what they fight...yet he remains a center of calm in the midst of the insanity. His strength of character provides a kind of solidity for Marie and gives her someone to trust.
5. Gendarmes was not a term I was familiar with before reading this book. Can you tell us who the gendarmes were? The gendarmes were the French police. When the Germans invaded, they left the police structure in place, but the gendarmes became puppets of the Nazis. This led to a sense of betrayal, as they were then often responsible for arresting their own neighbors to be sent to the labor camps.
6. Marie's goal in her work is to prove herself worthy, and if death is the price, so be it. What inspired this attitude? Marie has an almost unhealthy sense of duty, on top of which the death of her brother has made her feel that she has nothing left to lose. At the beginning, death is almost her goal. In her eyes, her brother made the ultimate sacrifice, and she feels that she can do no less. She's kind of a mess.
7. Without giving away too much, in what ways does Marie change because of her experiences? I think she finds her heart again, and she learns to accept individuals on their own merit.
8. Who are your favorite authors? Elizabeth Goudge, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald, Anthony Hope, Norton Juster, Tolkien, Muriel Barbery...and many more! I'm a sucker for the classics, and just kind of an all around nerd.
9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? It always begins with coffee, and good music. I like to write in coffee shops. It makes me feel sophisticated, but only if they serve their coffee in ceramic cups.
10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I just released a new edition of a children's book that I wrote years ago and my mother illustrated, An Amazing Alphabetic Anthology. The print quality for the illustrations has really improved and the distribution is much better than it was when we first printed it...seven years ago I think. I'm also working on a new novel. It's still in it's early stages, but I'm pleased with how it's going so far. I'm taking it in a different direction...a more contemporary setting, and a touch of the paranormal. I'm having fun watching where it goes.
Check out Melanie's new website to stay up to date on her writing.
Violet Shadows is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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