Mistress of the Sun
A Prosecast interview with the author
hosted by Cathi Bond.
CB: the first thing I wanted to ask you is about the period that youve
chosen its 17th Century France. What attracted you to it?
SG: Well its so theatrical. They had one foot still in the middle ages
and renaissance and its on the verge of becoming a modern period so its a
period thats very much on the cusp. The court of the sun king was one of those
periods of high creation and intense thought and a lot was happening. Its very
CB: I was astonished when I was reading it at the level of filth that
people lived in.
SG: Any time you go back in time pre-industrial times and before plumbing
and all that if we were to time travel I think our noses would suffer the most.
Because really there were you know pigs in the street, the pigs were actually
the garbage men because they were encouraged to wander and eat the filth people
emptied their buckets of sewage into the streets. There was a lot of progress
made actually towards the end of the century when the sun king Louis XIV brought
in water into paris and he actually began to clean up the city by cobbling the
streets so they werent just mud. He also brought in lighting, I think it was
the first city in the world to be lit up at night and this was a huge
CB: This is the second time that youve visited or revisited French
history because your first amazing successes were with the Josephine B trilogy.
And now youre mining earlier French history. Is there something in particular
about France that has really grabbed your imagination?
SG: I just love French history! I have tried to persuade myself to move
into a language that Im more familiar with like English, but theres something
about French history that I think is just really enchanting. I saw a portrait
recently of the sun king greeting some ambassadors from Holland, I think, and it
showed the sun king and he was just covered in pink bows he had his petticoat
breaches on and he was just this glorious looking man and then all the
ambassadors from the foreign countries were all in black, and very sober. That
is part of it. Its that there is something rather fanciful about French history
that I dont think we see in English history or Canadian history.
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About Gulland, Sandra