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The making of Mira’s Way

The inspirations behind Book 2 in The Miramonde Series

Mira’s Way: evolution of a sequel

The Girl from Oto traces Miramonde de Oto’s life from birth to age twenty. Mira’s Way takes place over the course of one year in Mira’s life—one swashbuckling, soul-searing, dangerous year. As the story of that year unfolds, Zari Durrell races through southern France digging up clues about Mira’s life and work. Both Mira and Zari make a number of spectacularly reckless and impulsive choices over the course of the book. And as Mira’s Way is Book 2 in a 3-book series, when the story ends, it leaves you wanting more. The grande finale comes in 2019 with book 3 of The Miramonde Series (working title: Shining Sea). I’ll do my best to make sure it’s worth the wait!

When I originally conceived the idea of The Girl from Oto, I only had one book in mind. But as I researched and wrote that first novel, I realized it would take about 1,000 pages to tell the entire story—so I turned it into a trilogy. In this era of write-publish-repeat-as-fast-as-you-can, maybe I should have reconsidered my choices for the narrative format of the story. It’s complicated, with two storylines—one set in the late 1400s-early 1500s, one set in the present. Oh, and a shifting cast of characters numbering about twenty. Of those characters, Mira and Zari are the heroines, but there are plenty of other characters significant enough to get their own Point of View (POV) chapters.

My challenges in writing Mira’s Way were twofold: first, I needed to continue the narrative momentum and character development I started with The Girl from Oto. This was actually quite easy to do for the historical thread, because about 80% of that storyline had already taken form in my mind. With the help of a great editor, I fixed some problems with that narrative and got the final 20% into place.

I use the historical narrative as a basis for the modern narrative. In The Girl from Oto, Zari Durrell didn’t even realize what she was looking for until halfway through the book. In Mira’s Way, she is focused on her mission of unearthing clues about Mira from the historical record in southwest France. How many scenes of online scrolling or archive searching can a storyline have before it collapses? My challenge was bringing adventure and conflict to research—and I had a lot of fun doing that.

For both Mira and Zari, I worked hard on developing their vulnerabilities and creating more of an emotional connection between them and the reader. The past 18 months were a time of tremendous change in the world and personal challenges in my world—and I brought everything I was carrying to my writing. Now, I cry when I read certain passages of Mira’s Way. Maybe that’s just because I’m so flippin’ happy to be finished with it! But I truly love Mira and Zari and I care about their struggles and joys as if they were real people.

Mira’s Way: what’s real, what’s imagined?

In Mira’s Way, as with The Girl from Oto, I wove my own imaginings with what I’ve learned from history. The historical record is full of holes—silenced stories, omissions, falsehoods. The Miramonde Series is an attempt to bring some of the forgotten female voices of a particular time and place—Renaissance-era Europe—back to life.

When you read Mira’s Way, you might wonder what is real and what is imagined. Here’s a brief guide to some of the research behind the book.

The Cagots were a mysterious people who lived in and around the western Pyrenees, first entering the historical record during the late Middle Ages. The scant documentation about them offers conflicting accounts of their origins, customs, and characteristics. What is generally agreed upon is the fact that they were ruthlessly segregated, demeaned, and abused. Today the Cagots have vanished, mostly by quietly assimilating into French society, their stories buried under layers of time and history.

The Abbey of Camon was inhabited by a Benedictine order of monks beginning in the middle ages and offered shelter to travelers and pilgrims passing through the region. I took the liberty of transforming it into a nunnery for the purposes of Mira’s Way.

Casa de Ganaderos is a cooperative of sheep breeders in Zaragoza, Spain, that dates back to 1218. The organization has kept kept meticulous records since its inception, some of which are archived online.

The city of Toulouse has archived many historic documents online, including the record books of notaries dating from the early 1500s.

The city of Perpignan passed from Aragónese to French rule and back again more than once over the course of history. During Mira’s time, Perpignan was controlled by Aragón.

Bartolomé Bermejo (c. 1440-c. 1495) was a Spanish artist who, unlike most of his contemporaries on the Iberian Peninsula, painted in the Flemish style. He is known for his exceptionally detailed backgrounds.

The character of Cornelia van der Zee is based on Flemish portrait artist Caterina van Hemessen (c. 1528-c. 1587).

The character of Albrecht Rumbach is based on German book printer/publisher Jean Rosembach, who set up shop in Perpignan in 1500.

Ready to read it?

The Kindle version of Mira’s Way is available to pre-order now on Amazon (it goes live in about three weeks). Click here if you want to reserve your copy now. The digital and print versions will be available on many other online platforms starting July 1.

 

 

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