Guest Post: Kate Mosse on Carcassonne

Posted 27 March, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments



The other day I posted up my review of Kate Mosse’s Citadel (review) as well as details for the book giveaway contest that I’m currently hosting as part of the book tour. Today I’m happy to share with you all a guest post written by the author herself about the region in which her Languedoc trilogy is set in, Carcassonne.

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A LOVE LETTER TO CARCASSONNE

More than 25 years ago, we bought a tiny house in the shadow of the medieval city walls of Carcassonne, in the Languedoc region of southern France. I’d never heard of the place before, let alone been there, but the second I stepped off the train, I felt I belonged. As if I’d come home. Over the years, living there for part of the year and bringing up our (now grown up!) children, I became obsessed with the history of the region, often bloody and brutal, the mystical and inspiring landscape. I started to dream of a series of novels – all of them stand-alones in terms of story and adventure, but linked by a sense of place. The Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – is the result. Each novel is a love letters to the place I think of as my second home, a way of celebrating the distinctive and unique character of the region. It’s also a way of putting certain periods of history – the lost and forgotten women’s stories from history in particular – on the page.

So, to Citadel. This year – 2014 – sees the 70th anniversary of the death of two résistantes, two female members of the Carcassonne resistance. The whole unit was wiped out one morning, the 19th August 1944, in a particularly cruel and cowardly way, by the Nazi troops as they withdrew from Carcassonne. But for the want of a few hours, those brave women and men – fighting to free their city from Occupation – would have survived. That haunted me, as did the fact that over the years, even though all the men have been identified and their names are honoured within the town, the women have remained unknown. This was the starting point for Citadel. I’m a novelist, not a historian and, in all my years of research, I’ve never been able to find out anything more about them. But I knew I could write a novel about the sort of women they must have been – courageous, principled, determined, women like us – and the men who must have loved and cared for them. Sandrine, her sister and their friends are all imagined characters, but they encapsulate the spirit of the women of the Languedoc. Citadel is an adventure story, it’s also a love story and, as with all my novels, there’s a timeslip element too – a part of the narrative set further back in the past. In Carcassonne and the surrounding countryside, the sense of the shadows of the past and the ways in which history haunts the present, is always there. The Occupying Nazi forces strongly believed in much of the mysticism of the folklore of the south – not least the rumour that the Cathars had possessed the Holy Grail – so I wanted to include that additional layer of emotion and superstition within the novel. History and mystery, war and the consequences of war, the way love inspired a whole generation to fight rather than to accept living under Occupation.

Citadel was the most emotional novel I’ve ever written – partly because it is inspired by real history and within living memory – and it was certainly the most challenging in terms of research. It’s also the novel I’m most proud of and the responses from readers all over the world so far have been wonderful.

I’m delighted to be part of France Book Tours – and to sit alongside so many other fabulous books about or inspired by France – and hope that Citadel proves as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write.

Vive la France!

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Thank you to the author for the wonderful post and to France Book Tours for the opportunity to take part on this tour.

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2 Responses to “Guest Post: Kate Mosse on Carcassonne”

  1. Hallo Ms. Mosse & Lianne!

    🙂 I love being given a glimpse inside of a writer’s process of generating the story in which it alive in our mind’s eye! Citadel had such a profound affect on me, as its core of heart never left me nor the courage of the unknown women this story was partially based upon! Such a haunting rumination of finding an area which in effect starts to murmur its histories out into your spirit, latching onto you and encouraging you to pen a tale which honours its darkened past with a blight of light! 🙂

    The living truths you etched into the character’s lives honour those who are unnamed on earth but have felt their presence here being uttered and whispered about in a way that gives them a pause of restful peace. They were not forgotten nor are their actions going to shirk from view of history. Only their names are not known but their legacy has surely lit a fire for others if it were able to touch you in such a creative way as to expound on their stories!?

    I am quite blessed to have been a part of this France Book Tours myself, as I hoped I honoured the text with the review in which I posted! I had so much to convey & it is in reviews of this nature that I always hope my words as they are imparted are giving dear hearted readers a sense of how I felt as I read the story!

    Many, many museful blessings to Ms. Mosse!

    Jorie’s Review of Citadel

    I welcome conversation on this book because it strikes your heart in so many different ways,… the time slip was brilliant because time is temporal. The past and present are always aligned with hidden meanings,…

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