Thursday, March 12, 2015

CBB Promotions Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway: Chronicles From Chateau Moines (Evelyne Holingue)

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Welcome to my tour stop for Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue. This is a middle grade historical fiction. The tour runs March 2-13 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule. 

About the Book:

September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home?
Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since Scott moved to Château Moines?
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.
Although this is a work of fiction, the cultural, social, and historical background of the early 1970s in France and the United States inspired the writing. At the end of the book the reader will find a list of the songs, the names of singers, and bands mentioned through the novel as well as some elements about fashion, immigration in France, the Vietnam War, and other cultural, social, and historical facts relevant to the period of time.

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About the Author:

I was born and raised in Normandy, France, where I spent most of my childhood reading.
My first published piece of writing was a poem about a man spending Christmas behind bars. I was eleven years old and wasn’t paid for my work, but I was hooked.
I studied French Literature at the Université de Caen and at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked in a publishing house before moving to California, following my husband.
It was a challenging time in my life as I was leaving my own career, my family, my friends and my beloved Paris behind.  But how could I say no to the dreams of the man I love?
Readers enjoy escaping the familiar for the unknown.  Being a foreigner is discovering the unknown day after day, not only for the time of a book. However, since most things in life come with a silver lining, I credit this move for giving me the opportunity to write. Through my words, I share my affection for my native and adoptive countries that I love equally. 

What gives you the inspiration to write this book? 

It started with my desire to write a story where music would play a role. From this simple idea my main character was born. I knew from the beginning that he would a boy and a budding musician. At that time I was running schoolbook fairs and met lots of kids. I noticed that many liked stories told from the perspectives of two characters. Quickly I knew that my other main character would be a girl. I have a special fondness for middle grade novels, which I think start long-term relationships with books. So I knew that my two protagonists would be a boy and a girl and that they would be twelve years old, an age I find fascinating because it marks the official last year in childhood. I like these moments in life when we are in between stages. 
Then because I was born and educated in France but makemy life in the USA, I like to show my affection to my two homes through my writing. As someone who learned English from scratch (English in middle and high schools help a little, but it took me a while to become proficient, and of course much longer to be able to write as well as a native-speaker. I am still a work-in-progress) I know first hand of the struggles to learn a different language and to adjust to a different culture. 
So very quickly I knew that it would be interesting to have one character from the USA and the other one from France. Scott would be from California, a state I know well and Sylvie from Normandy, my native French region. 
Music being universal, regardless of countries and languages, the theme of my story quickly evolved around the idea of home. 
At that time I was reading lots of historical fiction and thought that it would be great to have a story from a rich period of time, but still fairly contemporary. 
The 1960’s and 1970’s are among the richest in terms of music but also in terms of deep cultural and social changes. 
The Vietnam War was raging and from that came the idea of peace. 
With characters from different places, I knew that they could sometimes clash and not be at peace. 
Of course, a story needs different layers to move the plot but moreover to give a chance to the characters to grow. 
With peace now at the heart of my theme, I wanted Scott to be conflicted. He has lost his mom, his best friend’s brother has lost a leg in Vietnam and he was involved in peace rallies with his family back in California. Now he finds himself in France with his brokenhearted father and eight-year-old smart and adorable little sister, and of course feels lonely, different and yet curious about his new surroundings. 
French girl Sylvie would be of course the opposite of Scott, and yet the two of them would find a common passion for music. 
Set in France it gave me the possibility to write about the changes the country was starting to see through the recent waves of immigration, particularly from the former North Africa French colonies. Racist incidents will challenge the small fictional town of Chateau Moines where my story is set. 
I read many books where siblings don’t like each other. I wanted to create families where siblings would love and protect each other despite normal annoyance that exists between brothers and sisters. 
And I love secondary and tertiary characters in any novel, so I had fun to create a cast of people who inhabit the small town of Chateau Moines. 
Because my characters are kids, they go to school and I decided to have them live through the course of a school year, starting in September 1970 to the spring of 1971. 
It allowed me to incorporate lots of elements from the recent past and add current events. 
And because I love surprises in life and books, I also added parental secrets that Scott, Sylvie and the readers will discover as the story unfolds. 

In the end this is a story about finding a place to call home and being at peace, there, despite world violence.

Two (2) kindle copies of Chronicles from Chateau Moines (INT)
Ends March 18th

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

1 comment:

  1. I love this guest post! It really talks about the things I liked most about this book. I feel the characters felt very realistic.
    Thank you so much for hosting a tour stop!