Published: September 2013
Sophia Marcil awakens from a snorkeling accident in the Lerins Islands to find herself in the chambers-and the body-of a nineteenth-century princess. In a confused state and with no idea of her whereabouts, Sophia embarks on a desperate quest for answers, hoping she can find her way back to her fiance, Nick, and her true identity.
After she finds a diary in an antique desk, Sophia follows a clue that leads her to a questionable alchemist, who relays the history and magic of the mysterious amethyst she inherited from her great-grandmother-the only possession that made the leap through time with her and perhaps the only thing that can prevent her from becoming a pawn in a murderous plot for the throne.
Using her inheritance, Sophia races through time to the twenty-first century to solve the mystery of her family's past. But once she is there, she unearths a dire warning about a curse that clings to her heirloom, leading her down a dangerous path involving two men from different times and ultimately puts her life at risk.
In this tale of obsession, greed and passion, a woman on a journey through time struggles to regain a family heirloom and control its magic, hoping to break the curse before it breaks her.
Waking in the Chambers of Another: Writing about Reincarnation
Have you ever dreamed of living in another era? Maybe you would have enjoyed being a knight during the Middle Ages or a Painter in Florence during the Early Renaissance. Ever wondered if you have lived before and if so who you were?
I’ve always found reincarnation to be a fascinating idea. When I was young, I remember watching movies like Dead Again and Defending Your Life. And while I realized that reincarnation didn’t fall in line with my family’s religious beliefs, the idea of it never grew less interesting. But while it was cool, explaining the ins and outs of reincarnation made my head hurt at times. There are a lot of details to consider when forming a theory on spirituality and how the cycle of life works
When I wrote The Temple of Indra, I’d just finished reading Diana Gabbaldon’s first Outlander book–which, of course, is time travel–but before that I had also been reading a lot of spiritual books on Near Death Experiences and the afterlife. I was fascinated by the accounts of doctors and nurses who’d witnessed legally dead patients –come back and tell them about a conversation they’d overheard in the room. I’d also read a lot of books on past lives, hypnosis, and the other side.
When I sat down to work out the logistics of my story, I found that after reading so many different ideas on the cycle of life, I had really begun to form my own. Not that I 100% believed it; I just thought what if this is how it works. What would happen if one of the spirits tied to you went bad and you got stuck with them and from that, the premise of my novel was born: A woman, cursed by a magical family heirloom, destined to be murdered in each life by someone close to her, and forced to travel back through time to her past lives in order to sever the tie.
Being a history buff, writing about the possibilities of reincarnation, time travel and another era were fascinating to me because I basically got to study real accounts of people’s lives from the past and live things that were completely foreign to me. I still remember the first time I wrote the opening scene to the first book in the series, where Sophia wakes in the bedchambers of the Princess. I started typing, knowing the basis of my scene but each time I got a paragraph in, I had to jump back to the internet or my books. I remember thinking how do I write dialogue when I don’t even know what they would call a bathroom. Or if they even had plumbing by then? I couldn’t get more than one page without looking something up but that turned out to be a blessing. I wasn’t completely done the plot–and before I knew it, the research was sparking new ideas, giving me ways to twist and turn the story. The interesting part is that I was never really drawn to the Victorian era before. I had always thought it stuffy.
Now the Gothic tales of the late eighteenth century were all right, with dark and mysterious characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Edward Hyde; but the sentimental lessons on improving nature and morals were not for me. That’s why I surprised myself when I chose it as the backdrop but it fit my need for political upheaval.
However, given all that loveable learning, I am the first to admit it was and still is a lot of research especially when trying to represent the era well and make characters credible. I try to find as much information via books–although the internet is more–but the resources are not held as accountable. The good news is I’m not writing historical fiction in the purest sense of the genre so I definitely get to make some leaps. I used the internet a lot to look up historical photos to describe buildings, clothing, furniture, etc. I even went on sites like trip advisor to look up tourists photos. I would much prefer to travel to France and Ireland to authenticate but unfortunately until I’m a best seller I’m limited. The excerpts from Princess Sapphira’s diary were particularly challenging. I tried to find as many primary sources as I could to see what sort of language would have been used and to see just what sort of details and facts were written down at that time. I came across a journal and a few letters that gave me perspective but they were sparse and none really called for the nature that I needed–dark, ominous and embroiled in a plot.
There was a reference book that was pretty awesome (unfortunately I found it much later) but it was called Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians by Marc McCutcheon. He also has one for the 1920s, which is fabulous since Book Two takes us back there to deal with Sophia’s family and their shady past.
I could get lost in these books for days but the trick is to know when to flip the switch and get back to writing. Eventually I just wrote and the rest was pointed out and authenticated by my writer’s group–and thank goodness for them, otherwise Sapphira’s dresses might have had zippers ….the shock and horror of it all!
Writing about another era and being in another body was both rewarding and difficult. Would I do it all again? Hell yes. Only this time I’d choose a new era. Why make things easy when you can live and learn, but maybe that’s just my way of reincarnating.
Rachael Stapleton grew up in a small town, writing as a hobby until the age of sixteen when she was given the opportunity to pen a column for the Orono Weekly Times. Today she is a dedicated writer who contributes to a weekly writer’s circle and is also a proud member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region.
Rachael lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children.