Long ago, while I was working on The Samurai’s Garden, I was part of a small critique group that met at my home. One of the ladies who came was Virginia Hebert, who’s a fellow member of the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group. Until a few years ago, Virginia was a high school French teacher, and her book was a fascinating tale set at the beginning of the French revolution. I wondered about how she was able to paint the scenes so vividly and discovered that she traveled to France every other year with her students! I was fortunate enough to tag along on one of those trips.
A Season of Deceptions, published by Resplendence publishing, released last fall, so I asked Virginia to tell us about her inspiration for the book.
I’m not sure what it is, perhaps a past life, but ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with foreign languages, castles, and sparkly jewels. It’s only natural then that I found my career teaching French and traveling with my students throughout Europe. I found the old stone architecture as well as the half-timbered houses and stores beautiful and enticing. Narrow streets winding through villages or massive formal gardens on castle grounds set my imagination reeling. I loved the history and wondered what it would be like to have lived in those places so many years ago.
I didn’t start writing until fairly recently, well, eight or so years ago. Before that, when I was in high school and college, I dreaded the thought of having to write a term paper or any assignment of more than half a page. It wasn’t until I saw the movie, Phantom of the Opera, that I considered creating a story. I had several friends that were fans of the story too. I know, kind of crazy that that’s what would get me started, but we all wanted more of the story. So, I wrote twenty-six chapters for us… just for us. I was so captivated by the process of creating and directing the lives of the characters that in spite of having to teach the next day, I would work into the wee hours of the morning or rise at four a.m. I enjoyed writing so much I decided to write a story that was totally my own and, of course, have it published.
And so it happened, but ever so slowly. As I taught about the history of France and the French Revolution, I thought about the differences in the classes, the haves and have-nots. Each group suffered during that turbulent time, but of course, in different ways. I figured it would be good to have them get acquainted and the story started to come together. Sometimes the characters would change a scene on me, and I’d have to rewrite a portion of it. I didn’t work on it as diligently as I had my fanfic and would sometimes leave it for a few months at a time as work, family, and life in general took over. But eventually, several years after starting it, it was done.
I love my story, A Season of Deceptions, and am finding that many others do too. I currently have a handful of partially written novels and now need to get back to work.
Thank you, Patty, for featuring me on your amazing blog. I enjoyed being here.
A Season of Deceptions is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Resplendence Publishing.
Virginia is still working on her internet presence.
Blurb for A Season of Deceptions:
Trust no one!
Catherine Laval pays little mind to the rumors of an impending revolution circulating among her father’s aristocratic friends during the social season of 1788. She’s far more concerned with the latest fashions, gossip and securing a suitably wealthy husband. However the innocent flirtations and coy deceptions of her entitled lifestyle turn deadly one tragic evening at her family’s estate.
Disguised in a humble dress belonging to one of the servants, Catherine is forced to flee from the only life she’s known. Calling herself Colette, she lives among the French common people, where her eyes and heart are opened to the social injustices and suffering of the poor in her country. The experience convinces her that her life can never be the same.
But now, her secrets and lies may cost her the love of the man who’s captured her heart. She longs to reveal everything to him, but is Catherine herself the victim of the biggest deception of all?
Welcome to 4F1H, Virginia.
Very cool how your engrossment with Phantom / Opera led to expanding on that tale, and then to writing your own characters (& their stories).
I know what you mean by the characters taking over and changing your outline — happens to me a lot.
I’d love to BE in many places overseas… but I’m loathe to TRAVEL. Strange.
That said, it would stress me to the max to be in charge of a group of students. God bless you for your ability to do so… and thereby give those kids the experiences of a lifetime.
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I agree, Jeff. I’ve taken elementary school kids on field trips, but I always had several parents along. I can’t imagine taking a group overseas! Fortunately, the year I went, we had a VERY small group!
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A really small group! I think it was only three of us, but it was a fun trip joining people from other schools. I’m so glad you were able to go with us, Patty.
Thanks, Jeff. I always loved taking students with me to Europe. It was like sharing a treasure with them and watching their reactions of awe and excitement. It was wonderful and an honor. They always made me proud.
My Phantom period was fun. Twenty-two of us became friends on a fan site and met in New York to see a play that Patrick Wilson was in. He was Raoul in the movie, and we arranged to meet him. I gave him a CD of the fanfic I wrote , and I’m not sure if I’m hoping he read it, or really hoping he didn’t! After all, though we friends all loved it, it was my first attempt at a story and it hadn’t been edited at all.
As for writing, I hope my characters keep on taking me with them down the paths they choose. I enjoy hearing their plans.
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Welcome to the blog,Virginia! It must be wonderful to travel to France every year.I, too, find old walls, etc., fascinating.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly one can be inspired to write.
I wish you all the best; the story above sounds like a really good one.
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I was so grateful to travel to France with Virginia! Her expertise, along with her ability to speak the language, made the trip go really smoothly.
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Thanks, Patty. I’ll go again with you anytime.,
Thanks, Tonette. I look forward to delving into this site. So many interesting things!
Since I’ve retired I miss my trips, but intend to start traveling again soon. My heart belongs especially to France, but all of Europe is so rich in beauty and history, each country with it’s own look. Inspiration is everywhere!
Enjoyed “meeting” you and learning about your novel. All the best!
Reading this brought me back to my travels overseas. Your book sounds wonderful and I love your cover!
Thank you, Darcy. I love the cover too. The artist did a nice job.
I’m glad you had a chance to travel overseas. It’s such an interesting experience.Where did you go?
Love reading about your journey to writing. Sounds like an entertaining book.
Thanks, Margo. Years ago, I was thinking about mortality and what trace of existence one can leave behind. The first answer that came to me was “a book”. I thought “Sure, that’s something, but what else?’ because I never thought that answer applied to me. It was several years later that I started to write, but I guess that seed must have been planted and that would be the real beginning of my writing journey.
As for my book, I’m getting a lot of positive feedback about it. I think you’d like it.
Your journey is very interesting. It’s always cool to hear what brings people to writing. Seasons of Deceptions sounds like an amazing book. What a plot!
Thanks, Kara. It was fun writing it and watching the characters help me plot it out.
Hello Virginia. Your story sounds wonderful. I look forward to reading it.
Do you still have a copy of your fanfic? That would be so much fun to look back on in later years to remember what really got you on the path of writing.
Hi, Angela. Yes, I definitely kept “One Love, One Lifetime”, my Phantom story. It’s still fun to read. I may use it one day as the basis for another story, changing names and situations to make it my own, but I’ll always keep the original.
Hi from a fellow Michigander. Congrats on getting your book finished and published. Sounds very interesting. My daughter spent a semester in Paris as a college senior. What an experience! I admire teachers who are willing to take kids on trips like yours. A great experience for them.
Thanks, Diane. How nice that your daughter was able to study in Paris. Such a great experience!