A sparkling new historical fiction novel comes out today by Aimie Runyan, Promised to the Crown. It is her debut novel! From the publisher:
“In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony.They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.
Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.”
5 Book Giveaway
Enter to Win One of 5 Copies of Promised to the Crown by Aimie Runyan: (U.S. entries only please. Enter by 5/4/16. Giveaway Terms Here.
One Nap at a Time
I asked Aimie to share with us today the back story to Promised To The Crown. Here’s Aimie:
Writing Promised to the Crown taught me some very important lessons—sometimes you have to wait for life experience to catch up with your inspiration. Just as often, however, you have to heave uncertainty and self-doubt out the door like a hefty bag of two-week old diapers. I first learned about the historical basis for my novel almost thirteen years ago (yikes!) when I was sitting in a Canadian Civ class in grad school. The professor spoke for a few moments about the women recruited by Louis XIV to cross the Atlantic to on rickety ships, bound for his Canadian colony armed with nothing but a chest full of household goods and a pocket full of coins. They were expected to take husbands from among the legions of bachelor settlers and make a new generation of little French Canadians, thus ensuring Quebec would remain in French hands. I was also in a creative writing class, always hunting for my next story idea. I was intrigued by the idea of a woman in that era who would be driven to sacrifice friends, family, and country for a new life. A short story was born and rather well received by my peers.
The idea to turn that short story into a novel stuck with me. I began teaching and got married, which limited the time I had to devote to the project, but I still played with it from time to time. I have a two-inch binder filled with illegible hand written manuscript pages and notes, but I invariably got stuck shortly after I got the women to Canada. I ended up going back to grad school and doing a master’s thesis on the topic of these government-sanctioned “mail-order brides” and found great resources about daily life in Quebec and France that helped form the setting more concretely in my brain, but then, as luck would have it, children came on the scene.
The dream of being a published author still plagued me, and as my daughter began to sleep longer, the idea of translating or publishing some non-fiction articles seemed like a great way to get some publishing credits that would get me the credentials necessary to be “worthy” of the attention of agents and editors. It didn’t work. Translation is about as easy to sell as ice in Alaska in January, and I had no idea how to effectively pitch my project. But one day, I looked down at my infant daughter asleep in my arms and I realized it wasn’t the lack of publishing credits holding me back.
I had to write the story of young women transitioning from their youth to the lives that waited beyond—their lives as wives and mothers, and the foundation of a new country. Before my children were born, I simply didn’t have the point of reference to be able to write the story. I had let my fear of rejection stand in the way of diving into the passion project that had been nagging at me for a decade, and it was time to move past those insecurities and put words on the page. No one was going to give me permission to write this book besides myself. I could write it, or I could regret it, so one February afternoon I tucked my toddler son and infant daughter in for their afternoon naps, and Promised to the Crown took shape, one nap at a time.
I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.