Charles Beloure (The Paris Architect)

As a first time author and a Gentile, why this subject?

When I decided to write fiction, I wanted architecture to be central to the plot...


Congratulations, you have received wonderful reviews for this first book and I’ll add my name to the list.

As a first time author and a Gentile, why this subject?

When I decided to write fiction, I wanted architecture to be central to the plot. I came across a historical event about priest holes being built during the reign of Elizabeth I when Catholicism was banned and the saying of mass was outlawed. Priests who said mass in secret in manor houses hid in these hiding places and were never found when the Queen’s soldiers raided the house. I transposed the event to World War II Paris because I was interested in that period. I had an architect design them instead of a carpenter.

Were you able to access survivors?

No Jewish survivors

Non-Jewish French persons who experienced the occupation?

Before I ever wrote the book, I came across people who lived through the occupation. My mother had a masters in French literature and had lots of French friends from Paris but especially ones from the colonies like Algeria and Senegal. I remember the Parisians saying how the Germans sucked the life out of the city, how everyone was always hungry and scared that they never would live to see the next day. The most vibrant beautiful city in the world was reduced to a shell of itself. I wanted to capture the desperation of everyday life in Paris during the occupation.

Many have compared Lucien to Oskar Schindler but I found him more interesting. He had no business interest in helping Jews. He became a mensch gradually.Talk about the creation of that character.

I wanted him to undergo a transformation by the end of the book. He starts out as self-centered bastard but then discovers a sense of humanity within himself and does the right thing. Then there’s his artistic side because he’s an architect. I wanted to explore that as well. His design talent would blossom although he was designing for the enemy.

Have you always been interested in France?

I’ve been more interested in France’s former colonies like in North Africa, Indochina, Algeria, and in West Africa. – The French had an oversea empire but now it’s gone, but its influence in the language, government, & customs still survive even in the most desolate places. They especially left an architectural presence in their colonial cities like Saigon & Beirut. They brought an infrastructure to these countries through engineering and architecture that was in place when the colonies became independent.

I’m fascinated by the worldwide French influence.– not only what survives in their former colonies but also their influence over the centuries. In my novel, I explain that Germans had a genuine admiration of French culture and admitted that French fashion, cuisine, the arts were superior. One of the most surprising findings in my research was that the German army encouraged its officers and enlisted men to visit Paris on leave. It reminded me of the Romans who conquered Greece but didn’t destroy but greatly admired everything Greek in the arts and copied it. The Foreign Legion always interested me.

Did you do some of the writing in Paris to get a feel for the locations you describe.

Not when I was writing the book. I was already familiar. Beginning with my honeymoon and subsequent trips walking up and down the streets looking at the buildings and observing the street life, I was impressed how one man, Haussmann, recreated Central Paris into the most beautiful city in the world. Nothing on that scale could ever been done like that again – with the arrondissements on the Right Bank pretty well except for the out lying ones like the 12th & 20th so I stuck to the neighborhoods I knew.


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