Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Paul C.R. Monk, Author of The Huguenot Chronicles

5 November 2023

Special Guest Interview with Paul C.R. Monk, Author of The Huguenot Chronicles

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

A family torn apart. A king with an iron fist. Will their love, faith and loyalty be strong enough to help them survive war, persecution 
and a cruel separation?

France, 1685. Jeanne is the wife of a wealthy merchant, but now she risks losing everything. Louis XIV's soldiers will stop at nothing to convert the country's Huguenot "heretics" to the "true" faith, yet Jeanne and Jacob hold fast to their Protestant principals of liberty of conscience.

I'm pleased to welcome author Paul C.R. Monk to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Huguenot Chronicles dives deep into the heart of the Delpech family's trials and triumphs set against the sweeping backdrop of France's tumultuous religious upheavals. The trilogy weaves a narrative filled with passion, trepidation, and the enduring human spirit.

Merchants of Virtue – Jacob Delpech, a steadfast Huguenot merchant, anticipates a prosperous life in the serene town of Montauban. However, the arrival of the oppressive Marquis de Boufflers, with orders to convert Protestants to Catholicism, threatens to dismantle the Delpech family's tranquil existence. With their home seized and faith tested, Jacob faces imprisonment while his wife, Jeanne, endeavours to shield their children amidst mounting peril, embarking on a journey of resilience and undying faith.

Voyage of Malice – Transported to a merciless Caribbean prison, Jacob grapples with captivity and the constant challenge to his faith. Simultaneously, in Geneva, Jeanne strives to navigate a life disrupted, contending with societal scorn and imminent danger. With London whispering promises of refuge, the couple moves cautiously towards reunion, traversing through a world teetering on the brink, laden with treachery and unseen jeopardy.

Land of Hope – As the New World unfolds its arms to the weary couple, Jacob and Jeanne eye the possibilities the burgeoning colonies of New York offer. Yet, the treacherous dance of colonial politics and the lingering shadows of their past continue to haunt. With Europe signalling the dawn of peace with the Treaty of Ryswick, is the elusive safe haven finally within their grasp?

What is your preferred writing routine?

Coffee first! Then it’s plotting, writing, or editing for the next couple of hours before a coffee break, an apple, and a biscuit, then it’s full steam ahead till lunch time. Lots of research goes into writing any historical novel, which is something I really enjoy and usually reserve for afternoons. 

I spend a lot of time with my nose between the pages of journals and publications from the given period, in the case of The Huguenot Chronicles trilogy, the late 17th century. Part of the afternoons are also given over to marketing and engaging with readers. After some family time at the end of the day, I like to put in at least an hour at night when all is calm. 

What advice do you have for new writers?

Good writing is all about rewriting. It’s crucial that you show to the world only the best version of your book; the reader will notice any laziness. It’s always a good idea to work with a structural editor, at least for your first books. What you will learn from the experience will stay with you throughout your writing career. 

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

Facebook ads work well for me. Also, emailing my readers is top priority, and something which I really ought to do more often. Until recently, I never had time for other platforms and other forms of media because of my busy day job as narrative director in video games. But now I’m keen to find out new ways of reaching readers through social media amplification and guesting on relevant blogs like this one. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

I started writing The Huguenot Chronicles trilogy while living in France, where I came upon a short journal on which the trilogy is based. I was transported by the intense drama of the story and thought it would make an interesting historical novel which in fact turned into three books. I wanted to tell the story of a set of people that have become overlooked to some extent, despite their major impact on their countries of adoption. 

But I had no idea it would help so many people understand what their own ancestors must have gone through. I have since realised there must be tens of millions of people with a Huguenot connection. Everyday people of Huguenot descent comment on my Facebook ads or simply send me an email. I’m chuffed and honoured that the books continue to help people reconnect with their heritage.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

There are scenes of persecution, war, romance, and adventure. But one scene, in particular, that always comes to mind is the one featuring the main female character, Jeanne Delpech, who is forced out of her home as she is about to go into labour. Her sister and brother-in-law are able to take her in after her brother-in-law abjures and converts to the “true” faith. Consequently, the king’s soldiers leave their home where they had been billeted, and Jeanne is able to give birth in a bed rather than in the street. 

But the following evening, the soldiers return and take her and her newborn baby away in a sedan chair. They dump her in the main square where they leave her overnight, leaving her too ashamed to call for help the following morning. It is a traumatising scene that shows the main protagonist at her lowest and unveils something of her strong will to survive as well as her faith in her own intimate convictions. 

The scene was inspired by a true story. By the time I had begun working on it, I had come to know the character quite well. It was consequently all the more harrowing to depict. But the most heart-wrenching part of it all is that it resonates with today’s horrific scenes of war.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m currently working on the sequel, which is set in Ireland and New England. I’m aiming for a pre-order by the end of the year with a launch early spring. It will be titled: Call of Freedom.

Paul C.R. Monk

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About the Author

Paul C.R. Monk trained as a linguist, and worked for 9 years as a teacher before becoming a script writer on scores of video game projects from indie to AAA titles, winning a nomination at the Writers Guild of America Awards for outstanding writing. It was while working as a script writer that in 2014 he published his first novel, Strange Metamorphosis, which won the Literary Classics Eloquent Quill award. He has since staged a number of plays, and has been busy completing his historical fiction serial set in the 17th century. The Huguenot Chronicles trilogy, which includes Merchants of Virtue, Voyage of Malice and Land of Hope, takes the reader from King Louis's France to the Caribbean, and from London to colonial New York, with drama-filled stops in the Rhine Valley and war-torn Ireland. You can find our more at Paul's website 

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