A chocolatier with radical ideas; a gentlewoman-turned-assassin; a devout princess with a deep loyalty to her family — on the surface, these characters may seem very different. But they were bound by their destinies. All were real women, living their lives in the foreboding shadow of Madame Guillotine.  
 
A number of authors have sought to explore that riveting yet horrific era, the French Revolution. But one group of female writers is taking a look at the subject in an entirely new way.
 
Known as History 360: The Historical Fiction Collective, six best-selling and highly respected writers have joined forces to take a deep dive into the bloody days of the Reign of Terror.
 
Comprised of authors Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Eliza Knight, Sophie Perinot, and Heather Webb, the group will release Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women on October 1. 
 
The Collective will also be making a trek from their respective locations to join the St. Simons Island Literary Guild at 7 p.m. October 7 at the Casino on St. Simons Island. Admission is free for members and $10 for non-guild attendees. 
 
At the event, they will share insights into the characters of their new historical fiction piece, as well as detail their unique writing style.
 
Co-author Laura Kamoie says the technique the group used to weave their novel together is an innovative approach in the world of literature. Instead of writing nestled in a room together, each took their character and wrote a draft, later gathering the pieces together in a Google document.
 
From there, they remotely adjusted and molded the interactions between the various voices, eventually crafting a seamless tale of trials and triumphs.   
 
“History 360 is a writing co-op made up of historical fiction authors. The founders were Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, and Eliza Knight. Ribbons of Scarlet is the fifth collaborative novel written under the aegis of History 360. It’s a unified narrative. It is kind of a unique thing in the historical fiction world. It’s not very common. It really takes the ego out of writing, and you have to find people you trust with your words,” Kamoie explained.
 
march on Versailles. Some of the facts about her had to be filled in by the writer. It was an interesting challenge.” 
 
It was one, however, that the writers were all too happy to take on. The co-op preferred to write about women who seemed to slip through the fingers of history, rather than popular figures like Queen Marie Antoinette. 
 
“That is what makes this book different from a lot of French Revolution books. We focused primarily on real women, not royal women, because we wanted that true, 360 degree view,” Quinn said. “We wanted to focus on these untapped stories, and these ladies really had some astounding views for their day. To read it in their own words, as they related the things that happened to them, is really quite amazing.” 
 
Their progressive opinions, uncovered during their extensive research, was a bit of a surprise to the authors. Quinn, in fact, notes that many of the writings were so forward-thinking that they
questioned their validity. 
 
“Several of the authors wanted to do a different story than what they had done before. Previously, many of the books were set in the ancient world, so they came up with this idea of telling a story of the women of the French
Revolution.”  
 
Those characters were carefully selected from among real women of the period. The group made a point to choose those who left behind actual documentation — diaries, letters, and the like — to use as inspiration, often stitching direct quotations from their
writings into the book.
 
Co-author Kate Quinn says the characters, who range from peasants to a princess, paint a complete picture of the Revolution by exploring various vantage points. 
 
“It was important for us to use real voices as much as possible. The ex-king’s sister Madame Élisabeth, the princess of France, was literate and she wrote a lot herself,” Quinn said.
 
“Others were probably illiterate, like Louise Audu, a fruit-seller who was a key leader of the women’s march on Versailles. Some of the facts about her had to be filled in by the writer. It was an interesting challenge.” 
 
It was one, however, that the writers were all too happy to take on. The co-op preferred to write about women who seemed to slip through the fingers of history, rather than popular figures like Queen Marie Antoinette. 
 
“That is what makes this book different from a lot of French Revolution books. We focused primarily on real women, not royal women, because we wanted that true, 360 degree view,” Quinn said. “We wanted to focus on these untapped stories, and these ladies really had some astounding views for their day. To read it in their own words, as they related the things that happened to them, is really quite amazing.” 
 
Their progressive opinions, uncovered during their extensive research, was a bit of a surprise to the authors. Quinn, in fact, notes that many of the writings were so forward-thinking that they
questioned their validity. 
 
“When we were researching, we were really struck by how modern it felt. The more we delved into these women ... the things written, said, and argued for were astoundingly modern. In fact, we had to double check some of it to make sure someone in the 20th century wasn’t trying to modernize their voices,” Quinn said. 
 
“They really were shockingly advanced. They wanted votes for women and an end to slavery all around the world. They had women’s political clubs, not unlike women’s political Facebook groups today. There was this huge female component to the Revolution.”
 
The group is looking forward to sharing all of these elements with Isles readers in October. While they are touring together, they are able to cover more ground and share a bit about each character’s journey, as well as their own writing experience. 
 
“We are all coming,” Kamoie said. “... and that’s the fun thing about it. Having six authors together who all ‘geek out’ on history is exciting. The advantage is that we will be able to divide and conquer.” 
 
“We won’t be able to go to the same place together many other times. So this will be a pretty exclusive event where people can hear all of the perspectives on historical writing. And they will also be able to get their books signed by all six authors, which is pretty unique.”
 
Traveling to St. Simons Island will be a first for both Kamoie and Quinn. Five of the writers hail from the Northeast, with Quinn, a California resident, rounding out the pack. But both are eager to see South Georgia, and hopefully, find some time to explore a bit of the Isles’ intriguing history. 
 
“Four of us are from the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area. Heather Webb lives in Connecticut and Kate is now in San Diego but we still claim her as a north easterner. I actually lived in Charleston and taught in the history department at the Citadel for a time, so I’ve done some exploring in the South, but I’m excited to see St. Simons.”
 
Quinn is looking forward to their visit, as well, and she relishes being able to share the journey with the co-op who have become very close friends.   
 
“I have not been there before either, but we knew we wanted to hit the road together. We are excited to come and get the word out about this book. It’s so much fun to team up ... we call ourselves the ‘Scarlet Sisters’,” Quinn said with a laugh.
 
While the trip will be an adventure of sorts for the authors, they are focused on sharing the overarching message of their book. That is a very simple concept — the people of the past are not that different from those living today. 
“I think that’s one of the main things with historical fiction,” Quinn said.
 
“Modern day people have difficulty seeing past the outer trappings of the time — the weird things they ate, the funny way they talked, or what they wore. But they are really the same. They had the same urges, drives, ambitions, and desires as we do today.”