Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Blogger: Catherine Delors & Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed a fantastic book called FOR THE KING by Catherine Delors. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel, and I have a feeling that it's going to be one of my favorite for 2010.

I am so glad to welcome Ms. Delors to Booking Mama today. I absolutely love her guest post about whether FOR THE KING is a mystery or thriller, and I found it very interesting to learn about how the book evolved. I was also excited to get some scoop about her next novel!

FOR THE KING: mystery or thriller?


I became an avid reader of mysteries as a child, and devoured in short order the complete works of Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle. One of my ambitions then was to become a mystery writer myself. Then, as I grew into a teenager, I discovered the great American noir writers: Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, later James Elroy. Nowadays I remain a fan of thrillers, and Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon is one of my very favorite novels.

So what’s the difference between a mystery and a thriller? Both genres deal with crime stories, don’t they? Certainly, but in quite different ways. In a mystery, we have an extremely brilliant detective, whether a policeman, a private investigator or an amateur sleuth. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Adam Dalgliesh… The story is told from a single point of view, often that of the detective’s less gifted sidekick: Dr. Watson, Captain Hastings. In mysteries, the detective is way ahead of the reader, who finds herself at the same level of information and comprehension as the sidekick.

In a thriller, on the other hand, the reader knows far more than the detective does. The writer creates dramatic tension precisely through this device: the reader can clearly see the traps of which the protagonist is unaware. The killer is generally known from the outset, and parts of the story are told from his point of view. Thus he becomes very important, sometimes more so than the ostensible hero of the story. The hallmark of a great thriller is a compelling villain. In Red Dragon, for instance, we care far more about the tortured Dolarhyde than we do about FBI agent Will Graham.

When I began writing FOR THE KING, I thought that I was fulfilling my childhood dream and penning a mystery, albeit one based on a real mass killing in 1800 Paris. Therefore, at first, I told the story from the point of view of my detective, Chief Inspector Roch Miquel.

But once my first draft was completed, I realized that it simply didn’t work this way. Certainly Roch is a clever, determined, conscientious policeman, but he is still very naïve, he puts too much trust in appearances, he is swayed by his feelings. Also it was impossible to tell the whole tale: too many details of the conspiracy to assassinate Napoléon remained hidden in the shadows.

Then I had a revelation: my novel wasn’t meant to be a mystery after all! It would only work as a thriller. In my next rewrite, I gave the reader crucial information from the start, including the identities of the assassins, which are of course unknown to Roch. In this fashion, as the story unfolds, the reader becomes aware of the tangle of lies that surround Roch, and the betrayals of those closest to him. This makes him more vulnerable, and also more likable.

Also, the thriller angle gave me the opportunity to show other points of view. In my novel everything is declined in shades of grey. Some supporters of Napoléon are no better than the Royalist assassins, or the former Revolutionaries. In the wake of the French Revolution, very few could claim the moral high ground.

Thus Limoelan, the chief of the assassins in Paris, has become a point of view character, so have Fouché, the wily Minister of Police, and Blanche, Roch’s married mistress. This gives the plot more depth, while allowing the reader far more insight into the motives of those involved.

What I discovered is that I loved writing thrillers as much as reading them. My next book, a prequel to MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION, is also a thriller. So will I ever fulfill my childhood dream of writing a mystery? We shall see…

A big thanks to Ms. Delors for writing such a terrific guest post!

Giveaway alert: I have one copy of FOR THE KING to share with one reader! To enter, just leave a comment with your email address telling me why this novel appeals to you. This contest will be open until Monday, July 26th at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. The giveaway is open to those of you in the U.S. and Canada only -- no p.o. boxes please. Good luck!

40 comments:

Amanda said...

Oh I love this! I actually bought a copy of Louis Bayard's book The Black Tower when I saw Catherine Delors review and rate it five stars on Goodreads. I read her first novel and absolutely adored it and have been dying to read this one since I first hear about it on her blog. Thanks for the guest post!

libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

Amy said...

I really loved her first book and can't wait to read this as well. So glad you enjoyed it~!

Tore said...

I love mystery thrillers. I have never read any of her books but I am very interested in reading them. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

Benita said...

An avid reader becomes a fabulous writer. I would love to read this fabulous writer's new book. I adore mystery and suspense. What could be more compelling on a cold, rainy eve?


bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

bermudaonion said...

I never really realized the fine line between mysteries and thrillers, but I do enjoy both genres, so I'd love to be entered for this giveaway. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Linda said...

I find this novel appealing from several angles, inc. the beautiful cover. The drama and upheaval in Paris at the time of the Revolution and afterward provides a very interesting setting. Thanks for the giveaway.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

ruthhill74 said...

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and this sounds like it is right up my alley. Please enter me!

ruthaw_1974@yahoo.com

Kari said...

I love period pieces and this sounds like a great read. thanks

alas3lads (at) aol (dot) com

rubynreba said...

I like the way she described her book as first being a mystery and then turning into a thriller.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

PoCoKat said...

Would love to read this...please enter me.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

Jennifer said...

I've just started to get into mysteries and thrillers. Adding my love of historical fiction to the mix, this book sounds just fantastic! I would love a chance to win this book. Thanks so much for the great guest post as well. I don't know that this would have caught my attention without it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Karen said...

PLEASE include me in this giveaway!

kzupancic[at]yahoo[dot]com

Catherine Delors said...

Thanks for your comments, and to Julie for hosting this!
Amanda, I am delighted you discovered Louis Bayard on my blog.
Good luck to all with the giveaway! :)

Alyce said...

I love the idea of a historical thriller. I like historical fiction, but some of it can really bog down. I would think that historical fiction written as a thriller would be much more compelling. This sounds like a fun read.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

ChristyJan said...

This sounds like a great read ~ I'm very interested and intrigued to learn more about the conspiracy to assassinate Napoléon.

hawkes(at)citlink.net

holdenj said...

Mystery or thriller, I enjoyed your review the other day and now Delors has posted such a great post. I am very intrigued and think I would really like to read this too. Thanks!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Karlie said...

A thriller/historical fiction novel sounds like a great read!

amandawk said...

I think I would enjoy this book because I love historical fiction.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Meredith said...

Love the historical fiction books! And I like a good thriller or mystery every now and then. The historicals don't have to all be romantic!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

katsrus said...

You are a new author to me. I love these kinds of books.I would love to win.
Sue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

angie said...

I am always looking for new authors to read and especially authors who write the thriller genre! Thrillers are my all time favorite books!!
Thanks!
bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

Shannon said...

I've read good things about this book. =)
tiredwkids at live dot com

Amused said...

I would love to win a copy of this book because historical fiction is one of my favorite genres!

amusedbybooks@gmail.com

Charlie Courtland said...

Have been dying to read books by the author! Have them on TBR list. Historical fiction is my area of expertise as an author and book reviewer! Please include me in the giveaway.

Theresa N. said...

I enjoy a good thriller.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Beth F said...

How interesting about the difference between the subgenres and why the book was better as a thriller than a mystery. I haven't read any of her novels yet, but the time period really interests me and I'm a fan of mysteries/thrillers and historical fiction.

BFish dot Reads at gmail dot com

karenk said...

i enjoy reading historical fiction....and i love the cover of this novel...thanks for the opportunity to read it :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

baileythebookworm said...

I'd love a chance to read this novel! It's been a while since I read a good thriller, and this looks just like what the doctor ordered.

baileythebookworm[at]gmail.com

Misusedinnocence said...

Historical Fiction is my absolute favorite! I would love to read this, it sounds incredible~

misusedinnocence@aol.com

lag123 said...

I love historical fiction too. This one is on my wish list. Thank you for the opportunity to win!

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Jolee said...

I love some of the authors she is inspired by. Love to try. Thanks. joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Melissa T said...

This book sounds so good. Would love to read it.

hofmeis at yahoo dot com

Darcie K. said...

I would love to read this. I love mysteries!
dmkayes@gmail.com

Anita Yancey said...

This book appeals to me, because mysteries and thrillers are my favorite books. This one sounds really good, and I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Carol M said...

Mysteries and thrillers are the books I enjoy the most! This one sounds really good and I would love to read. I'm always looking for new authors, too.
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Candace said...

Wow, this sounds like a great thriller. I'd love to read it. Thanks for the chance.
readysetwin at gmail dot com

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

I saw this at B&N today -- how timely! I would love to enter.
melmccurdyATsbcglobalDOTnet

wmmahaney said...

I would love to have a copy of this. It sounds like a wonderful book.
wmmahaney(at)att(dot)net