Exclusive interview with author Marci Jefferson about Frances Stuart, a maid sent to seduce a king, and becomes the symbol of Britannia *** Three stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2015/5/28 – “I was on the top level of a red double-decker bus when somebody pointed out the Banqueting House and said Charles the First had been beheaded there,” says Girl on the Gold Coin author Marci Jefferson. “This surprised me. I thought kings had ordered all the beheadings. As a history lover, I decided I needed to read everything about the Stuarts that no one bothered to teach me in nursing school. Years later, when I read The Other Boleyn Girl, the idea for Girl on the Gold Coin struck me.”
Jefferson’s writing offers rich historical details. Frances’ dilemma is choosing between duty, loyalty, family and love. Jefferson paints a picture of a woman who is intelligent, beautiful and compassionate, part of the king’s inner circle. Frances’ image was on gold coins, medals and statues in Britain for centuries.
In 1660, Charles Stuart returns to rule the English. The Queen Mother wants Frances to become Charles’ mistress, for her to lure Charles away from his Protestant mistress. Frances Stuart and her family stay with the queen mother in France. Gone are the threadbare gowns. When Frances arrives at the English court she’s dressed to impress. She faces a tight rope between palace intrigue and protecting her family. At Fontainebleau Palace, King Louis is intrigued by this Stuart girl. The French Sun King wants her to be his mistress. She refuses. The French monarch sends her to England demanding she seduce King Charles II, to help France form an alliance with England. She captivates King Charles II. Can she survive the Great Fire, plague and general debauchery in the Restoration Court?
“I learned about the Stuarts years ago on a trip to London,” says Jefferson. “I researched the Restoration Period for years before I wrote a word. This provided my foundation, but more detailed research was required for each scene. At times I felt I couldn’t write a single sentence without having to look up some fact or another. I read dozens of biographies, architectural guides, studied art from the period, read journals and diaries, and of course recalled what it felt like being in certain locations from my trip to England. Fortunately, in this digital age, I was able to access a number of historical documents through a contact at the National Archives in Great Britain. In this way I was able to read wills and letters written by a number of characters in the novel.”
“While researching Frances Stuart, I was gratified to learn she was not the feather brain many assume she was,” says Jefferson. “Nor was her life story so simple. She wasn’t just a pretty maid of honor at the Restored English Court known throughout Europe for it’s debauchery. Her letters prove her to be intelligent, kind-hearted, and tolerant. I realized she embodied the spirit of the Restoration era, which, combined with her portrait as Britannia on the coins, made her a compelling subject for a historical novel.”
Toni Kirkpatrick at St Martin’s Press is Jefferson’s editor. “Her editorial process was standard. She made notations and suggestions in the manuscript and mailed it to me. From there the novel went to a copyeditor, then to proofreaders. After the novel moved into production, I had the pleasure of meeting Toni in New York. She is lovely, and I’ll always be grateful to her for giving me my first big break in the publishing world.” While Jefferson accepts that deadlines are necessary to keep the production of a novel moving, she finds them difficult. “Deadlines simply stress me out by nature,” says Jefferson.
Jefferson’s first novel was pitched to Kirkpatrick by Jefferson’s agent, Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. “I met Kevan at a writer’s conference one summer before I’d even finished the first draft of my novel. Bold as brass, I pitched the idea to her anyway. She actually liked it! I sent her pages, and we signed a contract before the end of that year.”
Girl on the Gold Coin has yet to be optioned for film or television, but is in the hands of a film agency.
Jefferson’s next novel, Enchantress of Paris, will be released in August. It includes some characters from her first novel, and Frances Stuart even makes a brief appearance. It’s the story of Marie Mancini, who defies expectations to become Europe’s most powerful Cardinal and help Louis XIV become the world’s most influential monarch.
Jefferson is currently writing a short story for an anthology being released by Harper Collins next year. Ten other authors are writing for this collection of stories based around Armistice Day, the final day of WW I.
Jefferson lives in the Midwest. She was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart by Marci Jefferson Trade Paperback, 336 pages, Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition (February 24, 2015), Language: English, ISBN: 9781250060945 $16.99