We welcome back author Karen Aldous, whose new novel, One Moment at Sunrise was released on Monday.
Thank you for inviting me on to Write Minds blog Francesca and Elaine – I love these questions but I’ve had to think long and hard.
Q: Evie Grant is the main protagonist in your new novel. How do you come up with characters, and are any of them based on real people?
A really interesting question. Most of my characters come to me instinctively from a location, or sense of place. Evie, the main character in One Moment at Sunrise for example walked into the room at a villa I stayed at near the Canal du Midi. It was heart-breaking because she lived in this beautiful house but was tragically lonely. Over the days I was there, I asked her why, and her story soon took shape. In my novel, The Chateau, Agnes-Francesia came via a dream. Intuitively, I knew where she was and found her in the Chateau de Chillon near Montreux in Switzerland and explored more of the history of the high incidents of witch hunts in the area centuries ago. It was as though she wanted her story told. In The Vineyard and The Riviera, as soon as I arrived in Provence, one beautiful November day, Lizzie was there in a Luberon village dreaming of owning her own vineyard, but she was still young and longed to live somewhere vibrant and cosmopolitan but still able to access the beautiful landscape of Provence. Spending an afternoon in Cannes inspired her spirit further, so a few years later, I returned and found her apartment and the beauty salon and the story really began to take on a life of its own. I also had her parent’s farm setting in my mind from a local valley I walk in.
Q: Your latest novel refers to the place of the peasant women in the building of the Canal du Midi. How much of this story is true history, and how did you come by it and research it?
I gathered some material about the Canal du Midi after seeing the statue of Paul-Pierre Riquet; the visionary who is credited with building it and I could never take that away from him. However, from all the info and books I had about the canal, I read a snippet about peasant women being involved in the building of the canal and that immediately sparked my imagination. I just kept searching for more information on the internet, posing different questions until I came up with an amazing academic book which had much of the supporting evidence I needed about these women to make it work. So it’s very likely the peasant women did have a major input into the hydraulic methods Riquet needed and, again, I thought their story needed to be told.
Q: What do you think Evie would put into Room 101 and why, and what would you put in?
I have to giggle because, Evie in One Moment at Sunrise would unquestionably put Seb Wilde in there. He is such a horrid character and really shouldn’t have been put on this earth in the first place.
What would I put in? Lots. Diseases, wrinkles, spots and scars. Nobody wants them and they create so much distress among us.
Q: If you could be any other author, who would you choose, and why?
This is a really difficult question but I’m going to say Elena Ferrante. Her writing is immaculate. So honest, uninhibited, perfectly paced and beautiful. Every scene swoons you, leaving you dribbling for more. Who wouldn’t wish to achieve that.
Thank you for taking the time out for this interview, Karen. Good luck with the book.
Evie Grant has spent two years hidden away in a quiet French village, longing to escape her beautiful villa with its blue-shuttered windows. Maybe this summer, the father of her child will keep his broken promises and return to whisk her away to another life. One way or another, Evie’s determined to stop feeling like his dirty little secret…
Yet when a mysterious stranger almost knocks Evie off her bicycle early one morning, her world begins to change in ways she never expected. Embarking on a painful journey of self-discovery, Evie begins to face her darkest fears and rebuild her fragile dreams. But can she ever truly break free from her gilded cage and learn to love again?
Karen’s books published by CarinaUK/Harper Collins are available on Amazon:
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