The Reason for Writing
A few years ago, while sitting in my dorm room at college, I had an idea for a new historical novel. I had recently finished a draft of another novel set in the 1st century A.D. My new idea could have been set at any time in any place, really. What was the idea? Well, it would ruin the novel if I told.
Then, a short time later, I came across the story of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace. It was the exact fit for the idea I had concocted. I discovered the fantastic book The Queen’s Necklace by Frances Mossiker, which gave me an enormously in-depth look at everything I needed to know. I could not have asked for a better resource.
Approximately three and a half years on, I’m half-way through a first draft! I know that sounds exceptionally lazy. Only 40,000 words in three and a half years? Well, not really. I’ve probably written 200,000 or 300,000 words on this story. I had immense trouble figuring out what angle to go at it from. I tried it with omniscient third-person focusing mostly on Madame de La Motte. I tried it with third-person focusing tightly on Jacques Claude Beugnot. I even reworked the Beugnot bit into first person! I spent three frustrating years fiddling with it. The thing was, I loved what I actually wrote. The words were beautiful, the characters came through as I wanted them to. The problem was that the words didn’t create the story I wanted.
So, not so long ago I decided to roll it all back and go with my original plan, which I had deviated from. I knew I wanted to focus on a girl named Nicole d’Oliva. It took me a few attempts to get a start on her version of the story (I’d attempted it several times before, by the way). Finally, I got it. And since then, in the past few months, I’ve been able to knock out well nigh 40k words, despite school, work, and graduation.
The Diamond Necklace Affair
. . . Or “Affair of the Diamond Necklace”, but the one is shorter. From the first I heard of this, I was utterly fascinated. The more I learned, the more incredible and interesting it became.
I believe I knew vaguely about the Affair of the Diamond Necklace before I read Frances Mossiker’s book. I had probably read about it in a book about Marie Anoinette. But, once I read the book, I was hooked.
In the mid 1780’s, ancien regimeFrance was rocked by a scandal. A diamond necklace of 2800 carats and worth 1.6 million francs. A Cardinal was arrested. He implicated a woman who called herself a Comtesse–but who was no such thing, though (to complicate matters) she did have royal blood. She in turn implicated a Charlatan who called himself Count Cagliostro and who was really an Italian fraud. The Comtesse de La Motte’s personal secretary, Retaux de Villette, was arrested; he was a forger among other things. Eventually, a whore name Nicole d’Oliva was arrested, too. The necklace was missing, the Cardinal claimed he had been given orders by the queen to purchase it for her; the Comtesse, he said, had fooled him; the Comtesse said it was all true and that the queen had used her. The resulting trial and scandal was the talk of France for a long time. The queen’s already-tarnished reputation was badly damaged. The theft of a diamond necklace led to the French Revolution.
This blog is to explore the people, places, and events surrounding this extraordinary story. I’m writing a novel about it, but of course that was not nearly enough; I felt the need to start a blog about it as well!