The first Angélique book is huge – over 800 pages – how long did that take to write?
When one begins, one has the material prepared. I built the life of the characters, working day and night for 10 months, writing while also researching at the library.
It must have taken a lot of self-belief to write a book that big because it’s a big risk, to put so much effort into something that might never get published. How much self-belief did you have?
One thing is for sure – there was no other work, so we had the time. Everyone was asking for new books because during the war there were no books.
How much of the research did you do yourself, and how much were you helped by Serge?
About equal, and of course we talked a lot about the book. At this time they were rebuilding Versailles, and we went along to see how it was going.
In the first two books there were very detailed descriptions of the wedding of Louis XIV, and the court. Were these taken from your research?
Of course. There were not yet costume museums, but we found extraordinary old books. There was one on the Court of Miracles too. And we went into Paris to see the places where the books took place.
Did your early books have maps of Paris as it was then?
No. I first thought about putting in the maps when I thought about the French reading about America. I didn’t think it necessary to put in maps of France because I was writing in France.
What time of the day did you write?
I was writing all the time, whenever I could – in the morning, in the afternoon and evening, in between doing the research. And of course, I had four children to look after as well.
My first child was ill and quite weak, and we had a German babysitter. She took him to her home in the mountains for his health and it saved him because of the better environment, and he was there for almost a year. And of course we visited him often and he recovered.
Did you write by hand?
Everything by hand.
And for the later books, in the New World, were they written by hand as well?
Yes, always, always by hand.
And do you still have the original manuscripts?
Some of them, yes. If we had all, we would need a house for them all, but we have enough to show what it was like.
How much do you write in one day?
It depends if there is a child with you. At the moment, because of the legal matters, not very much, but very soon I hope it could be from five in the morning until 1 pm.
When I was in Switzerland the first year we moved there, I was writing ‘Angélique in Revolt‘ and I had two children. I couldn’t say how much I wrote. It depended on the life I was leading. Sometimes I had to look after the children, and people had to wait for the next story!
Now, people can get the books one after the other. But they had to wait three or four years back then. That’s why I am unhappy that they didn’t translate the last three books into English. I wanted to finish the story for my readers.