19 February 2021

Guest Interview with Michael Stolle, Author of The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

It’s 1646 and infant King Louis XIV reigns over France; wily Cardinal Mazarin holds the reins of power - but he needs money, desperately. Armand de Saint Paul, the younger son of a great and rich noble house, is leading a carefree life in Paris, dedicating his time to such pleasures as gambling, hunting and amorous pursuits. Unexpectedly, Armand has to defend the honour of his house in a duel that transpires to be a deadly trap, set up by a mighty foe of the house of Saint Paul.

I'm pleased to welcome author Michael Stolle to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

My latest book ‘The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg’ is set in the 17th century, like the other books of the ‘French Orphan’ series. It starts in Paris from there the reader will travel to the East ( Alsace) and further on to the Germanic Empire straight to the imperial city Vienna. It’s a simple story of adventure, deception, love - combined with a crime plot to give it more zest. The major protagonist is a very likable young man, born into one of the great noble families of France, who’s taken love as a pleasant game so far. As he’s entangled more and more in a web of deadly intrigues, he suddenly realizes that love is a precious gift… and that life can be cruel.  

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I need to walk, I have difficulties to look at a blank screen and start writing. While I’m walking I develop the plot and rehearse scenes until I like them. What then happens invariably is that my plot will change, characters that seemed less important at the beginning suddenly become major protagonists. It never goes to plan, that’s probably the weirdest thing.

What advice do you have for new writers? 

I can only judge from my own weakness, I tend to explain too much, I had to learn to leave space for the reader to develop his/her own imagination. I think my last books are better in this respect. Otherwise my advice: if you like what you write, believe in it, just go on, don’t give up.  And be careful, there’s a whole industry out there to cash in on writer hopefuls.

Get a good and helpful copy editor. I battle constantly with mine as I like to change the point of view (head hopping)  in a chapter, but somehow we always find a compromise.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books? 

First a confession: I’m not good in social media, really not good at all. I should be, I know - but I simply don’t like to upload constantly pictures of my dog or a cat to get a ‘like’ or show an artistically arranged picture of my self-cooked dinner. That leaves bloggers (an there are really good and nice ones out there), Amazon ads and reader reviews as the only lever to draw attention to my books, which I admit, can be tedious. Conclusion: if it’s in your DNA, better play the social media card and make a selfie with your cat – and your cake…

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

I thought that I knew pretty well the period, I had made extensive visits to museums and as I travelled a lot, I have seen most premises mentioned in my books myself. I was surprised though to find out how much the sister of Louis XIII who’d become Queen of England by marrying King Charles, meddled with politics and in how far the King of France and later the First Ministers were prepared to drop a close relative as weakening England was in the major interest of any French monarch. Nothing has really changed over the centuries, has it? 😉

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

I’m battling constantly with sex scenes and describing scenery. It’s a true challenge. It’s a tightrope walk between kitsch and evoking genuine emotions, very, very difficult for me to get it right. I love action and dialogue, that’s my thing.

What are you planning to write next? 

Good question, no idea. I guess one day I’ll be walking and suddenly a new plot starts forming in my head and my tormented readers will have to endure another book.

Michael Stolle

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About the Author

Born and educated and living in Europe, Michael Stolle has been publishing since 2013. He’s always been intrigued by the historical setting and the fact that what makes us human was as true in the 17th century as it is now. He has been reading and writing about history for longer than he cares to recall...  Follow Michael on Goodreads and find him on Twitter @MichaelStolle16

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