As I related before, I grew up mainly with my grandparent. They minded me while my parents were out working.
As a two-year-old I sat on my grandpa's knee and listened to him when he read from his favorite novels. He had a library full of French classics (he was French-speaking by birth) and he loved to read. I remember the first novel ever read to me was 'La Reine Margot' by Alexandre Dumas. I must not have known French at that tender age, but I still remember what the story is about. Funny thing, eh?
But that poor queen Margot was not my favorite story. No, that was by far Dumas' masterpiece, The Three Musketeers. First it was read to me in French, later on I read it myself in its Dutch translation and only much later I tried the French version once more. I prefer reading novels in their original language, as long as I understand it. I can read in Dutch, English, German and French.
The characters in The Three Musketeers appealed to me. As a young girl, I'd daydream that d'Artagnan was madly in love with me (while the other day it would be a handsome Native American warrior). What I especially liked about the book was the way in which Dumas mingles action, adventure, romance and a little bit of mystery. After all, we keep guessing about the identity of Lady De Winter at first.
I was also a lot interested in history - still am. Before the days of the computer, I remember reading about some historical facts in a book, and then going to the library to find out more about it. I still have a box with index cards filled with historical facts - and these come in quite handy when I'm writing one of my own novels.
Dumas definitely inspired me to write The Medici Diamonds. Of course my novel is not set in the same time frame - the seventeenth century under the reign of Louis the Thirteenth. My story is set in the early eighteenth century, when Louis-Philippe d'Orléans was Prince Regent until his nephew, Louis the Fifteenth, came of age. But I did borrow the way in which Dumas writes his epic story. I also like to mix adventure with action, romance and mystery.