Pour s’amuser (character sketches, excerpts, maps, and more)

Click here to view my pencil sketches of the characters in The Seven Turns of the Snail’s Shellcharacter_sketchbook_roe.

Note: many of these same characters make repeat appearances in The Blue Amulet, and also as younger versions of themselves in As Darker Grow the Shadows.

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Below is my sketch of the snail showing the arrangement of the twenty arrondissements of Paris. This appears in The Seven Turns of the Snail’s Shell. The excerpt from Chapter Seven which follows explains the drawing.

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An excerpt from Chapter Seven of The Seven Turns of the Snail’s Shell:

“You are first time in Paris, oui?” the waiter asked, nodding in the direction of the journal. “Can I ‘elp you find some place?”

“I am looking for a hospital. Bon, well, several hospitals.” Anna glanced over at Monique.

The waiter gave Anna a look of grave concern. “Mais, mais, vous n’allez pas bien, Mam’selle?”

Oh, si, si, Monsieur, je vais bien. I am fine. I am looking for someone in Paris. That is all.”

Monique shifted in her chair. One eyebrow lifted. It was obvious that she was becoming very impatient with the conversation.

“And he is at a hospital?” the waiter persisted.

Oui, un docteur.”

“Ah oui. C’est normale. But of course.” He set down Monique’s hot water for her tea and hesitated, standing by the table until they looked at him inquisitively. “It is often said that a snail’s shell has seven turns. Do you know that expression, Mam’selle?” he asked Anna as he served her cup of espresso. His intense black eyes fixed on hers.

Anna noted that he was short and rather stocky. She decided that he was probably in his twenties, maybe a university student, or an artist perhaps.

Pardon, Monsieur?”

With your permission, Mam’selle?” He nodded at her pen and open journal. She hesitated and then handed them over to him.

“May I turn the page?”

She nodded.

He carefully laid the journal on the table and turned to a fresh page. On it, he drew a quick, circular drawing.

C’est quoi ça?” Monique asked with impatience.

Beh, l’escargot, n’est-ce pas? The snail?

“Oui.” Anna nodded. There was a slight resemblance to a snail’s shell.

Monique squirmed in her chair.

Next the waiter drew a downward-curved horizontal line resembling a frown through the center. “Voilà la Seine,” he paused to check to see if they were with him. “It runs through the center of the city, hein? And it curves around—comme ça.” He extended the line upward and to the left, then completed the circle. Again, he checked on their understanding. “L’escargot, oui?”

Anna smiled, nodded, and enjoying herself, she took a sip of her espresso. It looked indeed just like the venerable escargot, the snail that the French find a culinary delicacy.

“Now, I show you the good part, Mam’selle. You will remember this way all the arrondissements of Paris.”

Anna watched as the waiter put in numbers, starting with numbers one through four, above the line in the very center, and continuing clockwise below the line with numbers five through seven. “Now we are crossing the river again. We are on the Right Bank.” He put in the numbers eight through twelve above the line. “We are now dropping to the Left Bank at La Nation.” Numbers thirteen through fifteen on the Left Bank completed the next turn of the shell. After adding arrondissements sixteen through twenty on the Right Bank, he made a circular motion around the whole with a flourish, holding the pen in his hand as would a maestro conducting an orchestra with his baton. “The périphérique, the auto route, goes around the twenty arrondissements.” He pointed to the outer curve. “Bois de Boulogne, west, Clichy, Saint-Ouen, Saint-Denis, north, Montrouge, Ivry-sur-Seine, to the south. The outskirts.”

Parfait. Bravo!” Anna applauded, and the young man gave a little bow.

“À votre service, Mam’selle.”

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Maps for reference:

Many people are not familiar with the island of Corsica off the southern coast of France. Diamanté Loupré, a Corsican, is a main character in all three of my novels. The island figures prominently in The Blue Amulet and As Darker Grow the Shadows.

Corsica map

An Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen of The Blue Amulet:

The ferry approached the port of Bastia in late evening. Standing on the deck, Anna, Diamanté, and Luc were welcomed by a flock of chee-ing, swooping seagulls and a strong scent.

“It smells like thyme and rosemary,” said Anna.

“The scent of the maquis,” Diamanté said, and he inhaled deeply. “There’s nothing in the world like it. You know you are approaching Corsica when you smell that.”

 

Vichy France 1939-1944

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An Excerpt from Chapter Twenty of As Darker Grow the Shadows:

Occupied Paris

14 July 1942

Diamanté and Elise stood side by side on the brick-paved Quai Saint-Michel. The twin towers of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame rose high into the sky above them, and in the distance, over the rooftops, they could see the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower. It was Bastille Day, and despite the presence of the invaders everywhere and the decree by the Vichy government that there be no national celebration, Parisians walking along the banks of the Seine could be heard humming “La Marseillaise.”

“It is his dream,” Elise said as they watched Ferdinand push a small barge-like wooden excursion boat from the landing below. The tricolor flew from its bow in direct defiance of the Germans who had forbidden the display of French flags in Paris.

Elise sighed. “Oh là, he’s been building it for many months now in the back alley behind the hotel. He planned the launch deliberately for today.” She looked up at Diamanté admiringly. At eighteen, he was taller and much more muscular than his brother. She smiled. “He thinks it will be a very good business someday, you know.”

Diamanté nodded.

“He is pleased you are here to see the launch.” Then she added, “Actually, so am I…pleased, that is, that you came.”

Diamanté cocked his handsome head sideways and turned to her. “You are?”

She smiled and nodded.

Ferdinand jumped into the back of the boat and looked up at them with a wide grin on his face.

They waved and shouted encouragement, then watched with nervous anticipation as he started the engine and steered the craft into the middle of the river.

A few curious bystanders lingered, cheered briefly at the sight of the tricolor, then quickly moved on.

“I asked him how many people it will hold,” Diamanté commented. “He said he planned to begin with small, private parties and expand as the business grew.” He laughed, then whispered, “I wondered if he’d take the Boches.”

“And how did he answer?”

He shook his head. “Pas question.”

“Oh, mon Dieu, it’s going in circles!” Elise exclaimed as she glanced back at the river. “I don’t think it’s supposed to do that.”

The boat’s engine sputtered and stopped. Ferdinand started it again, but almost immediately it quit.

Quelle catastrophe!” Elise cried out. “It’s definitely not supposed to do that. Oh là. Look. It’s taking on water, too!”

They stared in dismay as Ferdinand leapt from the sinking boat and swam frantically toward them. Together they pulled him out of the water, catching a last glimpse of Ferdinand’s dream excursion craft as it disappeared beneath the surface of the river.

“I guess we’re out of business,” Ferdinand declared with a shrug. Then he laughed.

Just at that moment, a patrol boat, its black, white, and red flag bearing the German naval insignia, rounded the bend in the river, speeding straight for them.

Merde. Run like hell!” Ferdinand yelled. And they did.

They reached the safety of the hotel and broke into fits of laughter.

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