Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My Perfect Hero?

Misty grey, gunmetal grey or thunderstorm grey.  Clear like a dawn sky in summer, or the dark, rich blue of water irises. The warm amber of whisky or a deep, melting chocolate brown. What am I talking about? The eyes of my hero, of course! Dreaming up the hero of my story always starts with his eyes.
Alain Delon

I attended a romance writing workshop some time ago where the focus was on how to create the perfect hero. The workshop leader decreed that the hero of a romance novel should not be a nice man who wore a cardigan and who was happy with just holding the heroin’s hand whilst gazing at the stars. All these were definitely the attributes of an anti-hero, a man no reader in her right mind could ever fall in love with..
But what exactly did she find so unattractive? Was it the cardigan, or that the man was content with holding the heroin’s hand instead of ravishing her? Or again that he enjoyed gazing at the stars in her company?  
Jacques Dutronc

I remember thinking at the time that the most important quality a hero should have was to make me dream, to make me wish he was in my life for real. If it's true that I am not too keen on men wearing cardigans, they have actually become quite a fashion statement for younger men these past few years. Holding someone’s hand can be a most wonderful and romantic experience. As for star gazing, I only have to think of astronomy professor Brian Cox's soft voice, clever eyes and sexy smile for it to become the most exciting way of spending an evening!   

Brian Cox
So what kind of hero do I write about? I’m afraid he is rather predictable in that he is usually the tall, moody type. He is incredibly brave and confident, determined to carry out some important mission. If he is cynical at times, he does hide a dark, painful and haunting secret the heroin will, naturally, help him overcome. As I write historical romance, he is also a consummate rider and knows how to handle swords, daggers and pistols. And if there isn't a cardigan in sight, that's because they didn't exist in the time period I have chosen - honest!

He is the man I dream about, the man I write about and the man who lives in my head for weeks and months on end – in the case of my current work in progress, one year already!

But whichever country he is from, whatever occupation he has and whatever the plot, the background or the time period, the first and most important step is always for me to picture his eyes.

Robert Hossein
And of course, to get his name right. From the moment he has a name, he is in my life. But the choice of the hero's name is the topic of another post...
What about you? How do you create your perfect hero? And what type of hero makes you dream?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Haunted Prison Tour with Victoria Roder

Today I am delighted to welcome talented author Victoria Roder at the start of her exciting Blog Tour for her novel The Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary, which will be released on August 23rd by MuseitUp Publishing.

Hello Victoria and welcome. What can you tell us about your novel and the fascinating world of penitentiaries?

 Hello Marie and thank you for hosting me today.
Would you spend the night in an abandoned, haunted prison? Several, former penitentiaries offer tours with claims of paranormal activity. For my paranormal thriller, The Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary I researched prison history, former inmates and ghost stories of Moundsville, Alcatraz, Mansfield and Eastern State Penitentiary. 

The word penitentiary means to be repentant, and that concept was taken seriously. Before prison reform, penitentiaries were based on a system of separation and torture which is believed to have fostered an atmosphere of insanity. Tortures from The Iron Gage, The Water Bath and in later years, violence among inmates seems to have left permanent spirits in the former prisons.  

Paranormal experts believe that building materials such as slate, stone and iron have properties that are similar to tapes used for recordings. As living entities, we release energy in everything we do. When some people pass, the environment holds onto that energy and it is stored in the building materials around them like a recording. The recording of the event is played over and over throughout time, known as a residual haunt. The experts aren’t sure what causes the playback, but some of the paranormal gurus believe in a theory that weather conditions or a person’s sensitivity are contributing factors. The paranormal investigators believe that some spirits are able to communicate with the living, by moving inanimate objects or in some cases speaking, which is known as an intelligent haunt.

Please join me in the Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary’s, Haunted Prison Tour. I will be choosing one winner from all the comments on the tour for an e-book copy of Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary. Each time you comment on my tour, you earn an entry, so don’t forget to leave your e-mail address! Please visit me at
Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary,  Available August 23rd sign up to be notified

 Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary, Blurb:

Converting the former federal prison Ingersull Penitentiary, into the “The Big House Inn” swallowed Hailey Price’s inheritance from her murdered mother and deceased father’s estate. But, with any luck, the rumors of the federal complex being haunted will boost interest of the Inn. The abandoned Penitentiary, cursed by a witch, is in a constant battle of good verses evil, an eternal struggle for the souls that enter the complex.

The residual haunts are the least of the frightening occurrences at the Inn. An electrical storm traps the visitors with a possessed Ouija board and the spirit of a condemned witch with an ancient curse. The visitors spend a heart pounding night in the battle of good verses evil. It might be Heaven checking into “The Big House Inn”, but it’s Hell checking out.
August 14th, Haunted Prison Tour Introduction

August 16th, Haunting of Alcatraz

August 23rd, Haunting of Moundsville

August 31st, Haunting of Eastern State Penitentiary
September 13th, Find Out How I Became a Writer

 Thank you so much Victoria, it was absolutely fascinating and very spooky! Good luck with your tour and the release of your novel.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Forever in Love...

Can love last a lifetime?  
I don't know why but I woke up this morning humming the melody of 'Nous dormirons ensemble', in my opinion one of the most beautiful declarations of love ever written, and have been feeling all romantic and nostalgic ever since...

 A poem by surrealist poet Louis Aragon, 'Nous dormirons ensemble' was set to music and by Jean Ferrat in the 1960s.
Louis Aragon in 1925
Aragon wrote it for his lover, wife and muse Elsa Triolet, among many other poems, and it was published in 1963 in the collection 'Le fou d'Elsa'.

Elsa was a Russian writer and poet, and the sister of Mayakovsky's lover Lili Brik. She left Russia at the outset of the Revolution after marrying a French cavalry officer she later divorced. After travelling to London and Berlin, she met Aragon in 1928 in Paris' Café de la Coupole, a famous haunt for artists at the time. Although they lived together straight away, they only married in 1939. They fought in the Résistance during the Second World War, travelled extensively after the war and stayed together until her death in 1970.
Elsa Triolet (she always kept the name of her first husband) was also the first woman to win the prestigious literary award Prix Goncourt in 1945 (when, by the way, women had just been granted the right to vote for the first time in France) for a collection of short stories 'Le premier accroc coute 200 Francs'.

Elsa Triolet

 I was unable to find an English translation for the poem. Sorry...

Nous dormirons ensemble

by Louis Aragon
Que ce soit dimanche ou lundi
Soir ou matin minuit midi
Dans l'enfer ou le paradis
Les amours aux amours ressemblent
C'était hier que je t'ai dit
Nous dormirons ensemble

C'était hier et c'est demain
Je n'ai plus que toi de chemin
J'ai mis mon cœur entre tes mains
Avec le tien comme il va l'amble
Tout ce qu'il a de temps humain
Nous dormirons ensemble

Mon amour ce qui fut sera
Le ciel est sur nous comme un drap
J'ai refermé sur toi mes bras
Et tant je t'aime que j'en tremble
Aussi longtemps que tu voudras
Nous dormirons ensemble.

Jean Ferrat

Jean Ferrat set many of Aragon's poems to music. He is one of my all time favourite French singers. And on a lighter note, what a moustache! I always thought he looked like a Mousquetaire!

I can't resist including an extract of poem Aragon wrote after Elsa's death of a heart attack in 1970.

L’adieu à Elsa

Son cœur a cessé de battre, foudroyé
Au milieu de l’allée du Moulin et de ses rosiers
Te laissant seul, éploré
Par le départ de ta bien-aimée

La fulgurance inouïe de la douleur
La déchirure d’un esprit qui se meurt
Aragon, tu as su malgré tout
Relever la tête et rester debout

Cette main qui ne se posera plus sur la tienne
Avec ce doux accent lorsqu’elle parlait…
Comme elle a dû être grande ta peine
De perdre celle que tu aimais

Tous ces mots jadis murmurés
Aux frontières d’une autre contrée
S’envolent avec elle, cher amour
S’envolent malgré toi pour toujours

They loved each other for over forty years, and he wrote beautiful poetry for her. They are one of my most romantic, most inspiring couples.

Who is your most romantic couple?

Elsa and Aragon