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Angélique Chevalier (Lucia Vaccarino and Gloria Danili): « Writing a story of a French literary master has been a total and unexpected privilege »

 



Lucia Vaccarino and Gloria Danili are two Italian authors who sign jointly under the pen name Angélique Chevalier the book series Blanche about the hidden daughter of Athos and Milady (see volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). They explain the genesis of this originally Italian series which is now written specifically for France.
(interview done by mail end of October, 2023)

This is the original English version of the interview in French.

The first three books published in French by PKJ mention the first Italian edition by Piemme. There is no such mention for the fourth one, Seules contre tous. Was it published first in Italy, when and by which publisher?

Gloria Danili
Blanche has firstly been published in Italy for the publisher Piemme (Mondadori Group), through our literary agency Book on a Tree in 2018, as a trilogy. In 2021 the great French publisher Pocket Jeunesse liked it so much that they not just bought it but also asked us for a proper book series. Can you imagine our pride and happiness! In fact, the fifth book of it (and spoiler! Our favorite book so far!) is about to be out in all the best French bookshops (and libraries) in two weeks from this interview. And, just to say, it won’t be the last one...

How did you come out with this idea of a daughter of Athos and Milady?

With the most traditional of the questions that overload an Author’s mind (in our case, two Authors), that is: What if Athos found out that Milady was pregnant when he found on her shoulder the shameful fleur-de-lis? And what if Milady is specifically expecting a baby girl? (And also, finally, What if Milady has not died at all?)

And how did you decide to make her a double agent navigating between Richelieu and the Queen?

It was very interesting for us to explore and investigate both the darkness and the giftedness of our witty and strong, but also insecure and fragile female main character. Blanche de la Fère is a symbol of dualism: in fact, she speaks to herself referring as a “we”. There are two Blanche inside Blanche: by night she rides and engages in sword fights, by day she attends lessons in dance and etiquette. She is a spy for the Queen against Richelieu, so she masters the art of hide and seek, say and not say, runs away and shows off. Blanche is brain and heart. Which one will she follow at the end? We deliver this atavic question to our affectionate readers…

Lucia Vaccarino
Each of your books is a self-contained novel. But in the background, there are all those questions Blanche is asking about herself and her parents. So far, there is not much progress on that front, she is still asking the same questions book after book. Do you intend to put more focus on this very interesting side of Blanche’s story?

You’ll find it by yourself in the next book...

At the end of A la pointe de l’épée, Richelieu gives Blanche a diary belonging to Milady. As a reader, I thought this diary would feature in the next book, with some revelations about Blanche’s mother, but it was not mentioned at all. Why?

Because we wanted on purpose to create a climax and a sense of suspense. And as for it, the fifth book will answer this question too! (and spoiler spoiler! You’ll find the whole bunch of Louis XIII's most famous Musketeers!)

Is The Three Musketeers an important book for you? Did you read it at a young age/do you keep on reading it again and again, and so on?

When we were children (and young teenagers), Dumas’s masterpiece was surely widely known, and we enjoyed it in its primarily literary form as a book (ça va sans dire!), but also as a cartoon and movies, and tv series, etc.

More generally, is Alexandre Dumas an influential writer for you?

He surely is. And again, having this chance of writing a story of a French literary master has been a total and unexpected privilege.

Would you say that he and his books (The musketeers, Monte-Cristo…) are still widely read and known in Italy or not?

Nowadays in our country there are loads of literary adaptations, but probably the teenagers don't read the complete text as we did in the '90s. But we do hope, through our Blanche Series, to be able to create a bit of curiosity in our readers towards the discovery and overall the enjoyment of the Literary Classics!

Interviewed by Patrick de Jacquelot



 

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