USA Today Bestselling author, Lyn Cote has written over 40 books, but she has only recently publish the first novel she has ever written. This book La Belle Christiane, is about a young French courtesan who finds herself in the American frontier in the 1770s. As our Author of the Day, Cote tells us why she only published this book now, how it is different from other romance novels and talks about how she did research for her historical novels before the dawn of the Internet.
Please give us a short introduction to what La Belle Christiane is about.
La Belle Christiane is the first book in my series, “Patriots and Seekers,” that is what I call a sweeping saga. My heroine starts the book at fifteen and is a decade older in the final chapter. I say on the back cover that it is reminiscent of Gone With the Wind--that kind of story of love, war and unexpected twists in one woman’s life.
Why is your book set in the 1770s? What was it about this time period that drew you?
I’ve always been fascinated on how a group of men (and women) could start a new country--with a whole new way of governing and thinking. We forget just how revolutionary our nation was--the world’s first modern constitutional democracy.
How much research did La Belle Christiane require from you?
A great deal and since this was written BEFORE the internet, I had to do a lot of calling libraries and writing to historical museums. Now historical research is just a keyboard away, not in the mid-1980’s.
What was the most interesting aspect of your research?
I think that trying to understand George and Martha Washington as people, not as distant historical figures was a challenge. So far only one reader has left a review negative about my involving my fictional characters with historical figures. I loved doing it and loved learning so much about their personal life. They were a devoted couple and sacrified so much for our country.
What inspired you to write about a young French courtesan?
I don’t really remember but I would think a young woman, raised to be the consort of kings, would be the LEAST likely person to set on the early frontier and then into the heart of the rebellion, don’t you? And that made it interesting to me.
Tell us more about Christiane Pelletier – who is she and what makes her so special?
She never gives up--She’s a survivor.
La Belle Christiane was your very first manuscript. Why did you only now decide to publish it?
This, my first manuscript, broke the rules of established publishing. In all, my heroine is married twice before she finally meets the hero once again. That isn’t done in romance. But that’s why I call this series “A Sweeping Saga of Young America.” It is bigger and wider in scope than a historical romance, yet it’s not a strict historical novel. To me, every grand story in history has a romance entertwined. But since it was too romantic to be a straight historical and too historical to be a straight romance, no editor wanted a book that was too different, so I had to wait till I could self-publish it. When I wrote Christiane the inspirational market (books with a spiritual theme) did not exist. I wrote it for the secular market but since spiritual things are a big part of my life, that element crept in. Though the book is not even lightly inspirational, Christiane is a “seeker.”
In which way is this book different from other Christian fiction?
A Christian heroine may sin in some ways and not others. Though coming from the background she did, Christiane has fine instincts of honor and honesty but she is not a sweet prarie or Amish or Quaker heroine. She makes big mistake due to her impetuous nature and doesn’t really understand life as most people live it till she is plunged into it.
Your characters – even your minor characters – are relatable and have depth. How did you pull this off?
All my characters become real to me so they will be real to my readers. One of my favorite authors, the late Georgette Heyer, (often called the creator of the modern Regency romance) was a great inspiration to me. Every one of her characters--even the maids--shine as real people. I hope I learned much from her.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What does an average writing day look like for you?
My husband is semi-retired and we now live in a cottage by a lake in the northwoods--a beautiful inspiring setting. I get up early every morning, feed the cats, make coffee and begin writing. My husband walks the treadmill and showers and then comes out and makes me breakfast. (I like that!)Then I write some more before I get ready to face the day. By early afternoon I’m turn to housework, laundry--all that real life “stuff.” I try to write six pages a day about five days a week. I’m very methodical and steady. I hate rushing! And try to always have a book done well before a deadline.
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing “twin” mail order bride stories, the first of the two--Frontier Mail Order Bride--comes out in August, and a Christmas novella, Loving Winter. And I just released Lady Sarah, the sequel to La Belle Christiane.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I’m on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LynCoteAuthor/, Twitter @LynCote, Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/101121.Lyn_Cote, Pinterest and my website is www.LynCote.com and I’m also a www.writerspace.com author and I’m a member of www.sweetromancereads.com If you drop by my website, you will receive a PDF titled, “Old Family Recipes,” fifteen authors (me too) told family stories and recipes. Also there is a monthly contest on my website where you can sign up for my newsletter and be entered into a drawing for a free ecopy of La Belle Christiane.