I (Jaime) am super pumped to have fellow Bethany House Publishing author, Jocelyn Green with us today. Her latest novel, Mark of the King has released this month to rave reviews and is top on my TBR list!
Enjoy getting to know Jocelyn and don't miss out the link to a wonderful giveaway Joceyln is hosting...
What drew you to tell the story of The Mark of the King?
First of all, the history was both fascinating and new to me. There are many excellent books set in the British colonies, but the French colony of Louisiana seems to be much lesser known. The years of forced immigration, whereby Paris cleaned out its prisons to populate a floundering wilderness, was just too rife with story potential to ignore. It’s a story of incredible hardship and courage, fear and hope, judgment and redemption. It also offered an opportunity to unlock a slice of American history most of us know little about, which appeals to me a great deal.
What is the “mark of the king”?
The mark of the king, as referenced in the title, has two meanings. The first is very literal. It’s the fleur-de-lys symbol of the French monarchy that was branded on certain criminals during the time the novel takes place, to permanently mark them with judgment. In the novel, this mark plays a big role. But there is a spiritual layer to the phrase, as well. As believers, we serve a higher King than any authority here on earth. Our lives are marked by His grace, no matter how scarred we may have been by judgment from others—whether that judgment was deserved or not. God’s grace covers all of it. Grace covers all of us.
Did anything surprise you during your research?
Oh, plenty. The biggie, and one that readers will see depicted in the novel, was a mass wedding ceremony in Paris, in September 1719, between 184 female convicts and the same number of male convicts who had only just met. I was also shocked to discover that of the seven thousand Europeans who entered the Lower Mississippi Valley between 1717 and 1721, at least half of them either perished or abandoned the colony before 1726. Other surprising things I learned:
- · Early eighteenth-century French midwifes regularly gave birthing mothers plenty of wine to relax them during labor, and performed bloodletting to supposedly ease the delivery.
- · In Louisiana, European settlers learned from the natives to use bear grease as mosquito repellant.
- · Since I have a pug in the story, I researched the breed to make sure they were around in the early 1700s. Along the way, I learned some fun and fascinating things that didn’t fit into the novel at all, but surprised and delighted me, as a former pug owner myself. For example, before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Joséphine had her pug Fortune carry concealed messages to her family while she was confined at Les Carmes prison, it having alone been given visiting rights. In nineteenth century England, Queen Victoria bred pugs named Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus, and she helped establish the National Kennel Club. Here’s my favorite though: in seventeenth-century Italy, pugs rode up front on private carriages, dressed in jackets and pantaloons that matched those of the coachman. Ha!
The world Julianne Chevalier inhabits—Paris, then New Orleans in the 1720s—is vastly different from the world I live in. But of all the characters in the novel, I relate to her the most. I share her strong desire to find purpose and use one’s skills and gifts wherever life leads. I also identify with her devotion to her brother and the pain of separation from him, since I greatly missed my own brother when he was a missionary—in France, in fact, where he met his beautiful wife, who grew up outside of Paris! On an even more personal level, my former tendency to withdraw from community when experiencing pain is represented in Julianne’s character, as well. I once learned the hard way that isolation breeds depression. So even though Julianne and I share very few circumstances in common, these deeper parallels are quite timeless.
Help us get to know YOU a little bit better ... When writing, what is your go to drink and snack to keep you energized and focused?
Favorite writing snacks include Greek yogurt with granola mixed in, or a small bowl of chocolate chips, almonds and craisins. I’ll have one or two cups of coffee in the morning, but in the afternoon I’ll opt for Oolong Tea. In desperate times, I will not turn away chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Have you visited all the places you've written about? Which was your favorite?
So far, yes I have visited them all. It’s hard to compare and pick favorites, but Gettysburg is right at the top of the list. One of the reasons for this is that it’s so easy to imagine the history that took place there, whereas Atlanta and New Orleans, for instance, have changed so drastically over the years they look nothing like they did during the time frames of my stories. I adored visiting France, too, of course, but it’s been a while. Let me take another trip over to refresh my memory and I’ll give you an update. ;)
Where do you like to write?
I usually write best in my office, surrounded by my research books, because I'm constantly fact-checking as I write. It's a laborious process. But sometimes if I get stuck, I find a change of scenery to be helpful. A local coffee shop or the university library where my husband works are great places to get the creative juices flowing again.