Broody dark clouds hung on the mountain tops this morning but at least it wasn’t raining. On the road early and we headed for Killarney town to investigate a few locations that I will be using in The Carver Affair. Firstly, it was up to The Malton Hotel, which in 1894, was The Railway Hotel. My heroine has an awkward meeting with an old beau here and later comes to stay in the hotel during Regatta weekend. … Kerry Book Adventure: Day 3
It was bound to happen. Today the vagaries of the Irish weather were felt with force. Yes, it rained. All day. We headed for Dingle which, unfortunately, has become even more touristy than I remembered – a pity but I suppose inevitable. We had two options – the Slea Head drive or the Connor Pass. Unluckily, we delayed our decision and set off just as the rain started. The higher we travelled the heavier the rain and by the time we reached the top of the Connor Pass, the cloud was blowing in at speed. Braving the elements, I managed to take a few snaps (forgive the raindrops blurring the pictures) just to prove to you that I was actually there! … Kerry Book Adventure: Day 2
Finally here in Annascaul after months of planning and dreaming. My next book, The Carver Affair, a Victorian crime novel, is partially set in this wonderful location. For the next couple of days, I will be exploring locations with a very good friend of mine. … Kerry Book Adventure: Day 1
It’s all very well to have a great story but it’s your characters who are going to tell it for you.
Besides an overdose of historical detail (which can come across as patronising), a common irritant for me as a reader are characters that are so wishy-washy that you want to slap them … very hard. I have a dread of mousey heroines or nice heroes. One of my favourite authors is Georgette Heyer. But I find that the Heyer novels I read over and over are the ones with at least one strong protagonist, and more often than not, two, and they are usually at loggerheads for most of the novel. … Creating Characters Your Readers Will Love
Sometimes I cannot believe my luck. Pondering on where to start the research for my next novel, I suddenly remembered how much I had loved watching The Irish RM on TV. I was fairly sure it was the right period and remembered how affectionately my father had spoken of the novels of Somerville & Ross. So off I went and downloaded a few of the books. I could not believe it. What better source of contemporary writing could there be; set in the south of Ireland and in the timeline of my current work in progress! Of course the novels are dated but the level of detail, from a research point of view, is pure gold. What surprised me most was the writing; the descriptions are often lyrical and the underlying humour had me chuckling away. … Edith Somerville, Irish Author (1858-1949)
Today in the Library we have Marie Laval, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
I was born and brought up near Lyon, in France. After studying at university there I moved to England and worked at the University of Manchester for several years. When I had my second son, I decided to retrain as a teacher and move to the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire. It’s a lovely place, even if it does seem to rain more there than anywhere else in England! I love writing, researching stories, and dreaming up romantic heroes and heroines…
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I always loved reading. As a child and teenager you could always find me with my nose in a book. I used to have very eclectic tastes and read a wide range of genres but I have become a lot more sensitive than I used to be these past few years, and I now find it difficult to read about death, loss, and grief. Therefore I don’t often read crime novels or really sad stories. I read a lot of romance, and historical material when I research for a novel.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
I am traditionally published. All my novels are published by Áccent Press.
Which genre do you write in and why?
I write romance, both contemporary and historical, because I like happy endings. For me romance is the ultimate escapism, especially historical romance.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
That’s a very difficult question! There have been so many authors whose work really made a big impression on me. If I had to pick a few, I would say that some of my all-time favourite writers are Wilkie Collins, Joseph Kessel, Barbey d’Aurevilly and Maupassant.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Very much so. I have drawn inspiration from my childhood in France, from my beautiful hometown Lyon, my family holidays in Provence and more generally from my whole upbringing. My mother was a French national born and brought up in Algeria and her wonderful stories, legends and superstitions filled my imagination from a very young age. I have drawn on my fascination for her stories when I wrote my historical romance, THE LION’S EMBRACE, and all of my short stories. One of these short stories, THE CEMETERY OF THE TWO PRINCESSES, was published in an anthology SHIVER which was released by Áccent Press last year for Halloween.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
I love writing and researching but I’m not very good at plotting. In fact I am really bad at plotting, which means that I often have to rewrite whole chapters time and time again, delete sub-plots, add new characters or ‘kill’ others! Every time I start a new story I vow to be more of a ‘plotter’ but somehow it never happens.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
Any time works for me! With a full-time job and a busy family life, I have to grab whatever writing time I can get.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
I don’t like promoting myself, probably because I am not very good at it.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I have learned a lot these past four years about the industry and I have made really good friends thanks to social media. I do prefer Facebook to Twitter because basically I have no idea what I am doing on Twitter!
I have made really lovely friends thanks to Facebook, several of whom I have the great pleasure to have lunch with once in a while in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I cannot imagine not writing. Even if I wasn’t published, I would still write my stories…
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
My daughter’s poems and stories. She is ten years old and has a wonderful imagination and she makes me smile.
Please tell us about your latest published work.
My historical romance THE DREAM CATCHER, which is set in 1847 in the far north of Scotland, was released by Áccent Press at the end of November. I am very excited about this release because THE DREAM CATCHER is part of a trilogy and I have never written a trilogy before. The other two parts will be released at the end of January and March.
To learn more about Marie check out the links below:
In my novel, The Bowes Inheritance, there is a brief glimpse of life in Angel Meadow, Manchester, where Fenian sympathies ran high and lawlessness prevailed.
The area was undoubtedly named for its idyllic scenery on the banks of the River Irk. However, the Industrial Revolution with its factories and workers’ houses soon swallowed up those verdant pastures. At the height of its notoriety, it became known as one of the worst slum districts in the United Kingdom. Today, regeneration has restored some of the area and Angel Meadow is now a public park – a far cry from a nineteenth century, rather chilling, description of the area:
“The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy, and most wicked locality in Manchester is called Angel Meadow. It lies off the Oldham Road, is full of cellars and is inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps, and, in the very worst sites of filth, and darkness.” (Image copyright Manchester Libraries)
The Fenian dynamite campaign (1881 to 1885) forms part of the backdrop to my novel, The Bowes Inheritance. During my research I discovered some intriguing nuggets of information.
It appears that both sides in the American Civil War (1861-65) engaged in terrorist tactics, planting landmines and clockwork explosives to deliberately injure civilians and damage property to invoke terror. The American Fenians were only too happy to look back and borrow the idea, and when Mr. Alfred Nobel was good enough to invent dynamite in 1867, an easy means of causing mayhem was born.