Madame Tussaud's Apprentice, Merit Press, Fall 2014
Jacket Illustration 2014 @ Frank Rivera
Check out the book trailer for Madame!
Watch them sculpt One Direction at Madame Tussuad's
“Off with their heads!” the Queen of Hearts yells to her guards in Alice in Wonderland.
But that was just a story, a fairy tale. Right?
Not if you lived during the French Revolution!
In 1792, the French people were starving. But their king, Louis XVI, and his wife, Marie Antoinette were ignoring them and throwing dinner parties and boating parties and dances and just generally having a good time. Eventually, the French people got just a wee bit mad. They imprisoned the king and queen and cut off their heads – a real life Alice in Wonderland tale!
Unfortunately, the violence didn’t end there. During “The Reign of Terror,” as the period afterward was called, tens of thousands of others, many of them innocent, also lost their lives to the guillotine as France struggled to find independence.
You don’t know what a guillotine is?
Well, here’s a picture for you:
Basically, the guillotine is a tall wooden structure in which a condemned person places their head. Above them is an angled blade that, when a lever is pulled, swooshes down, and severs the victim’s body from their head. Thought to be more humane than an executioner’s sword that oftentimes left the victim’s head only partially severed, the guillotine has become a symbol of the French Revolution and all its violence.
I have always been captivated with this turbulent and tragic period of time. What would it be like to be young and a queen, only to find yourself facing an angry mob bent on your beheading? And how could I find a unique way to write about this interesting slice of history?
Enter Madame Tussaud!
Madame Tussaud was a fascinating person. For years, she worked with King Louis XVI’s sister, helping her make wax figures of saints, which they distributed to the poor. (It’s just too bad they didn’t figure out food would perhaps have been a more appropriate gift. That might have stopped the Revolution from happening at all!).
But when at last, the Revolution finally did arrive, poor Madame Tussaud (or Manon as she was called), was declared a Royalist for her work with the King’s sister. She was imprisoned and slated to face the guillotine. However, the kindly (ha) National Assembly offered her a deal. If she agreed to make wax likenesses of those who were beheaded, they would spare her. Wasn’t this a cool way to examine the period? Through the eyes of the woman who was forced to sculpt the heads of those guillotined in order to save her own head?
So I got to work and created some characters: first, Celie Rosseau - a young girl, an amazing artist and a thief. Then, I gave her a sidekick and love interest: Algernon, a pickpocket and a revolutionary. When they are caught robbing Madame Tussaud, they are forced to help her in the waxworks house in order to avoid imprisonment. But when the Revolution arrives, they too are swept up in the chaos of watching heads fall. And they must decide if they will help Manon . . .or join the revolutionaries.
Want to find out what they choose?
Then pick up Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice . . .and start your own reading Revolution!
My favorite hobbies:
Traveling, writing, spending time with my girls, my sister and my friends
My favorite saying:
We make a living by what we get – but we make a life by what we give!
One strange fact about me: I had braces at age 33
My advice on writing: don't ever give up if this is what you want more than anything else in the world! If you are truly a writer, you will be unable not to write.