Okay, it's now official. The Wild Roses has been released. As I mentioned the other day, the story is basically The Three Musketeers, but with three women.
There are those who know a bit of the background to the writing of this, and are probably shaking their heads in astonishment that it got done. That's because the idea initially came to me quite a few years ago. I know clearly where I was at the time, and I remember the exact moment -- I just can't tell you what I was thinking the instant before. Not a clue.
I was on my morning walk, about 150 yards from home. And then, into my head popped, “The Three Musketeers, but with three women.” That’s all I thought, but I swear it was like a cartoon moment, when a light bulb pops over a character’s head, and a sound going "Boing!." But I can't tell you why I thought it. I have absolutely no idea in the world what came the second before the sound effect. It’s a total blank.
Yet I sort of stopped at that point. There were a few reasons, but without going into a long explanation, while I loved the premise mainly I thought the idea too episodic. A team of three women just going around saving France. So, I put it aside.
Almost a year later, I was on the phone with my friend, Rob Hedden, who’s a writer and filmmaker. He had just sold a screenplay a couple days before to Paramount Studios for what would be his first, major movie. It was extremely exciting, and we spent a half-hour talking about every detail. I was thrilled for him. And then, eventually, he said, “Enough about me, let’s talk about you. What are you working on?”
Unfortunately the honest answer would have been, “Nothing.” There simply wasn’t a thing that interested me at that moment. Now, you must believe me on this: I don’t have much of an ego. When in a group, I hate talking about myself unless asked. But I have a healthy “writer’s ego,” which means thinking that other people might be interested in the stories you tell. So, though my ego is small, there was No Way in the Freaking World I was going to spend 30 minutes talking with a friend about a movie he’d just sold, and when asked what I was doing, answer – “Nothing.” No. Way.
So, my mind began whirring. Searching my mind frantically for some idea I had. Any idea. And all this is taking about six seconds, as I’m stalling. “Well, you see, the thing is, of all the ideas I have…” And from the deep crevices hidden in the far back recesses of my mind, I said -- or more accurately, lied, “There’s this idea in the middle of my mind. The Three Musketeers but with three women.”
Rob, who has written several novels, almost leaped through the phone and grabbed me by the lapels and shook me against the wall. He kept saying over and over, “You have to write this. I don’t want any excuses.” And to emphasize the point, he added, “Because if you don’t, I am telling you right now that I will steal it.”
Okay, I figured after that, hmmm, maybe the idea for The Wild Roses was worth addressing again.
What I realized had always interested me -- and had been the challenge -- was the characters. If three women teamed up, why in the world would they do so? Who were they?? And how would they even get to that point where they could meet?
That led to a lower-class gypsy, the daughter of a respectable bourgeois merchant, and a naïve heiress. But the core of the story to me was why would each of them need to leave home? What then would take them to Paris? Alone and defenseless.
More story and plot lines developed over time. And eventually I had a story about three people who had huge, hopefully relatable hurdles put in front of them that forced them each to leave home on their own, and how by teaming up with others, they would be able to get over their barriers and reach the greatest heights. Real women, real people, with greatness in them, but also foibles – thieving, self-centered, sheltered and more.
Ultimately, The Wild Roses became what I hope is a sweeping tale of three people who find themselves caught up in a swashbuckling adventure of action and comedy (and, yes, of course, come romance) to save the king and country. And to make it, I think, more intriguing, real, historical figures are mixed with the fictional characters. And that all began with a remarkable situation I came across in my research: within just months of each other, King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, and the Queen Mother Marie de Medici, matriarch of the powerful family all died, leaving France of 1648 in the hands of a 10--year-old Child King. Not only did I find that a fascinating occurrence, but it left a significant power vacuum -- not just in France, but all over Europe, since this was the time leading to the 30 Years War.
And that led to the story.
A plot by the leader of the aristocrats is set in motion, kidnapping the young king, to force the royal family to abdicate. Near-helpless, the Queen Regent and her Chief Minister Cardinal Jules Mazarin (Richelieu's protege) try to stave off the threat, but with little success. And so, as the life of France begins to break down in civil war, lawlessness in the streets breaks out. In the midst of this turmoil, three young women - unaware of one another - have each suddenly been forced from home to face their own steep hurdles alone that have changed their lives. And though they don't know it, those separate lives will soon entwine with one another, and the destiny of France.
The thing is, writing the story and getting the novel out still faced it's own hurdles. Too long to go into, especially in a posting this long already. But the book didn't get written for quite a while. Other people overlapped, and it came up against its own roadblocks, but...well, goodness triumphs all. Or something like that.
And now you know.
It behooves me to say that if you're interested in getting a copy -- well, that would be nice. I think it's a good, entertaining tale. But I understand if it's not everyone's favorite genre.
However if you would like to take a look and see what it's about, here's a link to the paperback edition, and this is the Kindle eBook. (At some point they'll be on the same webpage, but Amazon hasn't linked them yet.) And at some point, it might be available in other formats, but for now -- there it is.
Merci. Et au revoir pour maintenant.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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