The Story Behind The Story – ‘Chronicles From Chateau Moines’ by Evelyne Holingue

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Welcome back to The Story Behind The Story series. Today’s post is by Evelyne Holingue. She tells us about the inspiration behind her latest novel Chronicles From Chateau Moines

France and the USA are my two homes on earth. So it’s natural for me to mix French and American elements in my writing and to create characters and settings with both influences.

SigningPetuniaAfter my first novel Trapped in Paris, a fast-paced thriller for Young Adults published in 2012, I wanted to write a story where music would play a significant part. Music, I think, holds the universal power to reunite people and create peace.

From this notion I quickly considered a story written in the early 1970s, a period that benefited from great music from the 1960s and also a period marked with significant popular opposition to the Vietnam War, to violence in general, and to the excessive power of governments.

From this idea my main character was born. I knew from the beginning that he would a boy and a budding musician. At that time I was running schoolbook fairs. I met lots of kids who told me they liked stories told from the perspectives of two characters. Quickly I knew that my other main character would be a girl and that both would be twelve years old, an age I find fascinating because it marks the official end of childhood. I like these moments in life when we are in between stages.

Then because I learned English almost from scratch I know first hand of the struggles to learn a different language and to adjust to a different culture. So very quickly I knew that it would be interesting to have one character from the USA and the other one from France. Scott would be from California, a state I know well and Sylvie from Normandy, my native French region.

With two protagonists from different places, I knew that they would sometimes clash and not always live peaceful relationships.

With peace now at the heart of my theme, I wanted my characters to be conflicted. Scott’s mom recently died, his best friend’s brother has lost a leg in Vietnam, and he used to be involved in peace rallies with his family back in California. Now in France with his brokenhearted father and eight-year-old smart and adorable little sister, he feels lonely, different and yet curious about his new surroundings.

French girl Sylvie is shy and hides from everyone that she writes songs’ lyrics. She’s not as politically educated as Scott. However they will become friends over their common passion for music.

Set in France the story gave me the possibility to write about the changes my native country was starting to experience through the recent waves of immigration, particularly from Algeria, the former North Africa French colony.

I read many books where siblings don’t like each other. I wanted to create families where siblings would love and protect each other despite normal annoyance that exists between brothers and sisters. So Scott and Sylvie both have two smart and annoying eight-year-old sisters. I also love secondary and tertiary characters in any novel, so I had fun to create a cast of people who inhabit the small fictional town of Château Moines.

And because I like surprises in life and books, I also added parental secrets that Scott, Sylvie and the readers discover as the story unfolds.

Chateau_FC_FNL_LoIn the end Chronicles From Château Moines is a story about finding a place to call home and being at peace, there, despite world violence.

To find more about this novel, my writing and my life as a French American, stop by my website www.evelyneholingue.com where I regularly blog in both French and English.

12 thoughts on “The Story Behind The Story – ‘Chronicles From Chateau Moines’ by Evelyne Holingue

  1. Oh how lovely to see you here Evelyne!
    As I absolutely devoured your book even if I am 15 years older than the characters, I loved to find out more about the story behind it. Maybe I could relate so well as I had to learn English with 12 in the US?
    Thank you Gulara for having Evelyne.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My absolute pleasure, Solveig. Evelyne is a true story-teller, it was as if she was speaking to me in her post. And yes, lovely to follow the logic of creating the setting and her characters!

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  2. How lovely to discover a compatriot and her book through two newly discovered blogger “friends, Sloveig and Gulara. I shall try to find your book, Evelyne, as; like Solveig and like you, I learned English while young because part of Mother’s family was British and because my family was traveling a lot and English is what Latin then French were before: universal language. Thank you for your blog and thank you to Gulara for hosting it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a delightful story and rich in lessons. I think a few adults should read the book as they might learn some lessons about how to find a mutual ground for ‘getting along.’ Thank you Gulara for sharing this story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ‘Getting along’ is perhaps the key skill everyone should master, preferably from very early days of our lives. I’d love for educational system to reflect this value too. I say less maths more ‘getting along’ lessons. I hardly use any maths in my life, but I could certainly do with that skill. And if as adults we have to master this on our own by reading books – well, it’s good for me! Thank you for your sweet comment, Gwynn.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You will laugh. I don’t use math either. I have not taken algebra since I was 15… a LONG time ago. Last weekend while with my step-daughter, an elementary school principal, and her husband, a teacher of honors English/Literature, who is also consulting with teachers helping them. He had a study to complete that had an algebra equation. My son-in-law, my 16 year old grandson, and I worked on an equation together… believe it or not… I SOLVED it!! The equation was to determine the number of successful teachers in the district. 😉 The team work between our three generations was FABULOUS!! The schools could benefit! 😉 It was a fun afternoon.

        Liked by 1 person

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