Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration – French Chateau Gardens

Elizabeth Pye’s Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration

Chateau gardens with their 17th and 18th Century French designs are intriguing for a historical romance author seeking historical fiction writing inspiration. Flowers have existed throughout the ages, and we are still admiring them. Look through Pinterest or find a book on the history of gardens for inspiration to write.

historical fiction writing inspiration
Elizabeth Pye’s Garden

Gardens for Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration

The following list shows the types of gardens that were popular in 17th and 18th Century French chateau gardens. Similarly, American gardens of today continue to favor these same styles.

  • kitchen gardens
  • formal gardens
  • borders
  • water gardens
  • lilies
  • forget-me-not
  • symmetry
  • pathways
  • fountains
  • botaical
  • topiaries

Garden inspiration certainly affects the muse in writing The French Connection historical fiction series. Love pictures of flowers? Then you’re invited to discover additional garden-inspired short posts, including personally photographed flower pictures, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lizpyebooks/.

A Garden Fit for a King

Le Potager du Roi – the King’s Kitchen Garden – provided fruit and vegetables for King Louis XIV in Versailles in the 17th century. This grand garden included 50 varieties of pears and 20 varieties of apples and was produced by a lawyer, Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie. He created methods of producing fruit and vegetables out of season.

France’s first pineapples were produced at the Potager in the 1730s. However, the garden became a school for horticulture and landscape architecture with the French Revolution. Now the National School of Landscape Architecture runs the Potager and has “400 varieties of fruit tree(s) grown in 68 different shapes…, 450 varieties of fruit and vegetables – and just nine gardeners.”

Trees provided barriers to wind and harsh weather in the 17th and 18th centuries and still serve the same purpose today. For this reason, fruit trees were placed along the walls.

Kitchen gardens consisted of vegetables that could be preserved for winter. Herbs provided flavor, medicinal, perfume use, and helped in discouraging insects from destroying plants.

The Gardens of Brécy

Brécy, an example of the 17th Century formal garden, is located in France, close to the English Channel.  Brécy is characteristic of garden settings chosen for The French Connection Series. According to the editors of francetoday.com, the village is located five miles south of Gold Beach. However, in spite of Brécy being directly in the path of the Allies’ advance in June 1944, it was not bombed.

The editors of Francetoday.com describe the Basse-Normandie area beautifully. “Because it is partially hidden in its own diminutive vale, the visitor happens upon Brécy unexpectedly—the surprise factor is spellbinding, and the visual seduction is immediate.”

The setting of the first book in The French Connection Series, Silk or Sugar, took place in the French Revolution era. Next in the series is the second book, Return to Chateau Fleury, which takes place over two hundred years after the French Revolution. Currently, the third book of the series is the work-in-progress, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe, and is set in the World War II era. See how the history of Brécy and its garden symmetry would be fascinating for this third book of The French Connection?

flower-inspired writing
Elizabeth Pye’s Garden

The Gardens of Versailles (Jardins du château de Versailles)

The Gardens of Versailles “occupy part of what was once the Domaine royale de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles.” Financial status determined the size and vegetable choices of the garden. Because the nobility could afford extravagance, the best vegetable plants and rare ornamental flowers were planted in their gardens. On the other hand, small peasant gardeners used the least expensive fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The following quote reveals how expansive the Versailles palace gardens were.  “Palace records from 1686 show that the Palace used 20,050 jonquil bulbs, 23000 cyclamen, and 1700 lily plants.”

Community Gardening

The nobility showed off their luxurious chateau gardens, and large landowners hired farmhands to maintain their gardens. However, the rural peasants shared community gardening resources. “All the peasants in a rural farming area required the community to exist,” Elizabeth Aaker wrote in a study on 18th Century French Peasantry communities.

Need Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration? Grow a Garden.

Grow a small kitchen garden or design a beautiful landscape with formal symmetry. This can be done without going overboard on a budget. Take the time to plant a garden. Above all, enjoy its beauty.

In today’s society, you don’t have to own a palace to grow the best vegetables, flowers, or garden. Participate in a community garden or grow a tiny kitchen garden if you’re limited on space. As long as you can afford the water bill or live in an area with plenteous rain, you have the freedom to grow any size of garden that appeals to you. In any case, gardening brings joy to those who love nature and is a great choice for a hobby.

Again, If you’re searching for something to inspire you as a writer of historical fiction, grow a garden. Attract readers of your genre who garden as a hobby. Historical fiction inspiration depends on authors’ hobbies. Gardening, incidentally, is a great hobby to choose for inspiration as well as for health purposes. After all, who can ignore the beauty and breathtaking scents of an ornate flower garden?

flower-inspired writing
Elizabeth Pye’s Garden

Chateau Garden-Inspired Return to Chateau Fleury Illustration

Look at the quote below from Return to Chateau Fleury. Next, notice the style of speech as well as the 17th or 18th Century chateau garden setting.

A gentleman, dressed as a tree, offered one of his branches to Helene and bowed before her. ‘Mademoiselle, may I escort you to the garden for a breath of fresh air . . . and whatever the evening may bring?’

Helene disengaged her arm from his grasp. ‘I’m not feeling botanical tonight,’ she said emphatically and turned away from him to Marie.



“La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel.” – Victor Hugo

English translation: “Life is a flower of which love is the honey.”


Read more about historical fiction writing inspiration by Elizabeth Pye on her

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lizpyebooks/


historical fiction writing inspiration
Elizabeth Pye

Click here to order the book:  Order Return to Chateau Fleury

Four Tips for Promoting Your Book – Author, You Can Do This

The Second Phase of Writing:

Book Promoting

Congratulations! You’ve written your novel and you need help promoting your book and market it. But where do you begin? The second phase of writing is book promoting, and it doesn’t have to be daunting. Continue reading “Four Tips for Promoting Your Book – Author, You Can Do This”

Romantic Day of the Year, Valentine’s Day – a Look Back in France History

romantic with roses for Valentine's Day
A Romantic’s Valentine’s Day Symbol

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air on this 14th day of February. How did Valentine’s Day become the most popular day of the year for love? The 18th-century era became known for romance, and love letters, flowers, and poems began to be exchanged between lovers. Learn about Napoleon and his love for Josephine, romance in France, and take a look at these origins and legends of this most romantic day of the year:

  1. Birds’ mating season in the middle of February was recognized during the Middle Ages in England and France. Learn more about breeding birds that migrate between England and France and the breeding season of Robins.
  2. The oldest Valentine’s Day English message was written in 1477.
  3. It is believed that St. Valentine was a priest from Rome in the third century A.D. Valentine ended up in jail because he had arranged marriages in secret after marriages had been banned. Emperor Claudius II believed “that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.” In 278 A.D. Valentine was beheaded. He had left a note to the jailer’s daughter who had become his friend and signed it, “From Your Valentine”.
  4. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.
  5. During February 13-15, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, an ancient fertility festival.
  6. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his poem Parlement of Foules in 1382. This is the “first recorded instance of St Valentine’s Day.”

Best Places in France for a Romantic February Trip

Interested in taking a romantic trip to France? Begin in Paris and experience the city of love. Learn the 18th-century history of the reign of Napolean I and his love with his Empress, Josephine.  Then travel south to the romantic Saint-Valentin and continue on a couple hours’ drive to stay in the lovely Chateau Golf des Sept Tours. 

Saint-Valentin is 161 miles south of Paris. Because of its name, naturally, the village attracts tourists. People from all over France come there on the closest weekend to Valentine’s Day to celebrate love or to renew their vows.

When visiting France in February, be sure to pack your coat and an umbrella because it’s typically cold and wet. Bring your boots because you’ll probably see snow. You can see why, according to tripsavvy.com, the second month of the year is the least expensive time to tour France. However, it can be worth your while with special deals (like lower airfare and hotel prices) during the off-season and no long tourist-attraction lines. Look at this website for further details on what to pack, February weather in various parts of France, sights to see, shopping and more.

A visit to the beautiful chateau, Chateau Golf des Sept Tours, inspired the setting for Silk or Sugar, my first book of the French Connection Series. Janine de Fleury sails from New Orleans in 1803 to reclaim her dead parents’ estate and faces dilemmas. First, an imposter has taken possession of her ancestral home. Second, Janine encounters unexpected affairs of the heart. She, a Royalist, holds a deep and secret affection for the handsome French Republican Army soldier, Colonel Etienne Tremeau, who is in the service of the great general, Napoleon Bonaparte. But dark forces come against Janine and Etienne. 

Napolean, the Romantic

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), fell in love with Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, widow of the Viscount de Beauharnais. They married in March 1796. She was ten years older than he, but that mattered none to him as he was madly in love with her. History accounts of his romantic love letters, a common practice in the 18th century, some even sexually explicit. Lovers would exchange handmade cards to portray their love for one another with a poem and romantic symbols like flowers and love knots. Shakespeare’s Hamlet mentions Valentine’s Day (17th century), and a popular Valentine’s poem of today was found in a nursery rhyme collection in 1784.

Despite Napolean’s fierce love for Josephine, their love endured a love-hate relationship and love affairs with others. But the marriage didn’t last. Napoleon’s desire for an heir exceeded his love for Josephine, and he divorced her because she was unable to conceive that heir he desperately wanted.

Napoléon crowned Joséphine Empress of the French in 1804, and the divorce came five years after her coronation. Nonetheless, he insisted Josephine keep her titles of Empress, even after he had remarried an Austrian princess. Perhaps, Napolean dealt with torment over his choice. Apparently, his heartstrings were not completely severed from Josephine because on his deathbed, he spoke these last words: “France, l’armée, tête d’armée, Joséphine”.

Surprise your historical fiction lover Valentine with a

Kindle edition of Silk or Sugar today.

Return to Chateau Fleury, the second book in The French Connection Series, is now released and available on Amazon. The story begins in Paris in 1998 with American Claire Bennett who is determined to solve the mystery surrounding her French heritage. Two time periods are covered in this novel. Claire and the dashing French aristocrat, Marc-Claude de Laval are intertwined in a shared past life together during the latter years of the 18th century and the French Revolution.  Enjoy this historical fiction romance novel as conflict arises and romantic sparks fly.


Plots Interview with Historical Fiction Author Elizabeth Pye

Plots – Elizabeth Pye,

Explains Plots for her French Connection Series


Plots – How Author Elizabeth Pye Determines Them

How do authors determine plots? Elizabeth Pye, historical fiction author of Silk or Sugar, explains how she determines plots for her French Connection series. Historical fiction comes alive when the author has creatively intertwined historical events and famous figures with a fascinating plot. Author Elizabeth Pye accomplishes this by bringing the French Revolution to life in the story of Janine de Fleury and Etienne Tremeau.

Determining the plot of the story involves these four elements:

  1. Conflict
  2. Suspense
  3. Climax
  4. Resolution

How an author accomplishes these storyline elements varies. Elizabeth gives us pointers on how she weaves historical events and characters together to draw her readers’ interest.

Continue reading “Plots Interview with Historical Fiction Author Elizabeth Pye”

Historical Fiction: Choosing Characters’ Names & Topics

Do you wonder how authors decide on names of characters and book topics? Elizabeth Pye shares her French Connection and Historical Fiction: Choosing Characters’ Names & Topics. Learn how she comes up with names for her characters and the types of topics she enjoys writing.

Author Elizabeth Pye’s Interview,

Historical Fiction: Choosing Characters’ Names & Topics

In an interview with Angie Horn, author, blogger, and social media specialist, Elizabeth shares her story about how she became interested in writing historical fiction. The interview is available on YouTube in several video segments. Choosing Names and Topics, the second video in the series, is shown here:

Continue reading “Historical Fiction: Choosing Characters’ Names & Topics”

Writing Novels: How to Blend Fact and Fiction – Interview with Elizabeth Pye

How One Author Blends Fact and Fiction

Writing novels and knowing how to blend fact and fiction is an art, one that Author Elizabeth Pye accomplishes in the historical fiction book, Silk or Sugar, the first book in The French Connection series. The sequel, Return to Chateau Fleury, is to be published October 2017.

How do you tell what is fact and what is fiction in a historical fiction book? Or can you? Fiction writers include dialogue that seems to fit, according to the research of a particular era. On the other hand, part of the dialogue might actually have been recorded in a diary. It must be considered, however, that even diary authors write with a biased opinion. One event told by three individuals produces three accounts, expressed with different viewpoints. Finally, it is up to the reader which report to believe.

Find out how Elizabeth blends fact and fiction in her novel writing in this interview:

Continue reading “Writing Novels: How to Blend Fact and Fiction – Interview with Elizabeth Pye”

Research Vital to Writing Historical Fiction – Interview – Author Elizabeth Pye

Interview on Research

with Elizabeth Pye

Elizabeth Pye is asked, “What is included in your research for each book?”

Elizabeth Pye used primary and secondary resources in her first book. However, she also visited the site of Silk or Sugar’s settingThe novel takes you back into one of France’s most horrific eras. Continue reading “Research Vital to Writing Historical Fiction – Interview – Author Elizabeth Pye”

Books a Historical Fiction Author Reads – Interview with Elizabeth Pye

Six Books/Series Elizabeth Recommends to Writers Who are Interested in Writing Historical Fiction

Actually, authors of historical novels are not cast from the same mold. If you asked ten of those authors about the books they prefer to read, you’d probably get ten different answers. They share an interest in history, I do believe.

Historical novels that are part of a series carry me along in the history of the period of which they are written, and I especially enjoy these type of novels.

Silk or Sugar
Elizabeth Pye, Author of Silk or Sugar

My List of Recommended Six Books/Series:

Continue reading “Books a Historical Fiction Author Reads – Interview with Elizabeth Pye”

Interview with Elizabeth Pye, Historical Fiction Author of Silk or Sugar

interview with a historical fiction author
Elizabeth Pye, Author of Silk or Sugar

Elizabeth Pye shares in an interview how she became interested in writing about historical France. Ask ten authors why they write historical fiction novels, and you’ll receive ten varying answers. In this article, however, Elizabeth gives her readers insight as to her own reason for writing historical fiction novels.




Why Do Authors Write Historical Fiction Novels?

Silk or Sugar is the first historical fiction novel by Elizabeth, and publication of the sequel is expected in November 2017. Elizabeth Pye is a member of California Writers Club, High Desert branch.

The interview has been published in several segments as a series of videos. Beginning May 1, 2017, you may view the next video in her interview series here on epye.com.

Part One, Interview Video Series with Elizabeth Pye:

Angie: Elizabeth, when did you become interested in writing historical fiction? And when did you become interested in writing about France, Napoleon, and/or French history?

Elizabeth: I’ve always loved history. I grew up in historic Virginia, that really colonial Virginia. When I would go into Fredericksburg, I would pass James Monroe’s law office, the old apothecary shop, and so many interesting places.

When I was in high school, I first became interested in writing. But it wasn’t fiction. It was journalism. I was editor of the school paper. Then as I started working, I had several newsletters and things like that I edited. When I wrote anything myself, it was more like short stories or articles about true things. Not fiction. Fiction came much later in life.

“What really prompted me to write historical fiction”

And I’m going to share with you what really prompted me to write historical fiction. That was, I had a past life regression. I actually went somewhere and had lots of visions like a movie, really, about a woman named Marie in the 1700s in France.

My husband and I talked about that. Then he said, “Well, why don’t you write a novel about it?”

I thought, Boy, he always tries to push me beyond my limit. I said to myself (I don’t know if I said it out loud to him), “No, I don’t write novels.” But he didn’t let me forget it.

I became very interested in France in that historical period. I read memoirs and books, and I was trying to validate some of the things that I had seen in this regression that I had. I then took a course at Gotham Writing School to write romance novels. It’s in New York City…. I took the online course. I met some really interesting people there and started writing Return to Chateau Fleury. Now that’s my second novel that’s going to be out in November of this year. It’s a complex novel because I’m writing about two lifetimes – a current lifetime and also one in the 1700s, about Marie’s life basically.

So I really didn’t feel I had the skills to put it together properly, and I set it aside and did Silk or Sugar, a follow-up novel on their daughter, on Marie’s daughter who was caught in the horrors of the French Revolution.

“Main Thrust of Novel”

Now I’m confessing that I had a past life regression that I’ve never really talked about. But I think it’s important because that is going to be the main thrust of this novel, the two lives and trying to reconcile them because Claire, who is the heroine, is also experiencing flashbacks to her previous life. Then she eventually has past life regressions and is trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on in her life.

Now she is a descendant of Marie de Fleury. She has family heirlooms, a locket, and a diary. So that factors into the Return to Chateau de Fleury as well.

So basically, I didn’t start out thinking I was going to write historical novels. Nor did I plan to. But eventually, I did, and I’m enjoying it very much now.

Angie: So would you say that writing historical fiction, for you, is really learning more about yourself?

Elizabeth: I think so as well as combined fascination with France and the life that I have found that people had there. I like reading different memoirs that were written by various people that lived there at that time.

“I always loved things French”

And the other interesting thing is, although I grew up in Virginia around all the American historical places and things and my mother loved Colonial furniture and all that, I always loved things French. I wanted to learn to speak French, and there were no French people in my community at all. Louis XV style always appealed to me. I didn’t know why, but I knew what I liked. I think, too, that is another reason that I wanted to write French stories.

What I’m writing now is part of my French Connection series. And so I love doing the research on each of the specific periods such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine. That’s been a lot of fun and interesting for me to do the research on their lives because I didn’t know anything about them, and I’ve learned a lot.

Angie: That’s the neat thing about research. You learn so much.

Elizabeth: That’s what I enjoy. In future writings, I do want to write about my surroundings in Virginia. I was born in a brick plantation house. I moved away, or my family did and took me with them, so I really don’t really remember anything much. But I have been back to that house, seen it, and visited the room I was born in on the third floor…. I miss the architecture of back east.


Article was written by and interview conducted by Angie Horn,

Author, Blogger, & Social Media Specialist, angelahorn.com



Historical Fiction – a Look at Why Authors Choose to Write in this Genre

Historical Fiction and My Interest in Writing the Genre

historical fiction
Elizabeth Pye Author of Silk or Sugar

Have you ever wondered why authors write about the genres they do, such as historical fiction? They either have a purpose or interest driving them to write in their areas of expertise and/or research.

In my case, I have always been attracted to France since childhood. This seems unusual because I grew up in rural Virginia and was not surrounded with much of anything French. Regardless of my lack of exposure, I wanted to learn to speak and read French. My writing passion came later when I became obsessed with French history after my husband and I traveled in Europe. Now I write historical fiction and interweave places we visited and all things French into the settings of the series I’m currently writing. It’s my way of being there in that time and place.

Plotting the story-getting started

I’m beginning to plot the third book in my French Connection series. So far all of the work has been done in my head. Now I am at a point I can begin to rough out my ideas on paper. This approach is because I don’t work from a detailed outline when writing. But what I have done is determined that Anne and Adrien, from the Silk or Sugar novel, are the main characters. The story opens in 1804 France with Adrien still serving in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Republican Army. New Orleans comes into the story and will involve plantation life and bring forward characters found in Silk or Sugar. I always start out using the working title of the main character, in this case, Anne’s Story.

As I write the chapters, the story comes more and more into focus. It goes without saying, I research each chapter for the fine details to enrich each scene. That’s when my muse kicks in any time of the day or night and, I receive inspirations for new scenes for twists and turns in the novel. It’s as if the pieces of the puzzle come together before my mind’s eye. Now how do I explain that process? One bit of advice I must emphasize is that when the muse speaks, you better record it immediately. If you delay, it will be lost forever.

Why Do Authors Write Historical Fiction?

Ask ten historical fiction authors why they write in the genre, and you will receive ten different answers. Reasons may include replies such as:

  1. I’m curious about history and the people of the past.
  2. I love to imagine what life was like in past eras and places.
  3. Writing historical fiction is a way to make the connections from past eras to the present.
  4. Readers buy historical novels.

Author B. J. Hoff, formerly a church music director and music teacher, chose to write historical fiction because she loved reading, listening to, and making up stories from early on in life. When the preacher in Sunday School said, “Let me tell you a story,” he had her attention. B. J. enjoys creating communities in historical settings where “people can form relationships, raise families, and pursue their faith.”

What type of historical novels do readers like?

Walk into a bookstore, and you’ll find numerous genres to choose from. Writers are encouraged by their mentors to learn which of the genre categories the title of their books would be located in.

Historical fiction is a broad category. Since genres overlap, it is a good idea for authors to carefully study the appropriate category and sub-category sections in which readers will discover their published titles. The historical fiction genre may include any of these subgenres:

  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Mysteries
  • American Historical Fiction
  • Historical Novels
  • Fictional Biographies
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Children’s Historical Fiction
  • Young Adult Historical Fiction

How do authors determine if their books are considered historical novels?

Answers certainly vary according to each author. Historical Novels Review defines a “historical novel” as set fifty years or more in the past and written from research, not personal experience. A teenager would consider the 1950’s to be old.

Old takes on different meanings, depending on the age of the writer. The 1950’s may sound old to young people but not to older individuals. One thing can be agreed on, however. A novel can fall under the category of historical fiction if it is about events or people set in the past.

Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it.

Oscar Wilde