Thursday, 24 November 2016


Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Date: Nov 1st

How can she forgive him for what he didn't do? 

Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they're forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable. 

Izzy knows it's not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn't something she's prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.


The security alarm chimed. Someone had stepped inside the studio. Exhaling a heavy breath, Izzy pulled back her shoulders, lifted her head and forced a smile.

“Hi, how can I…” Her heart stopped. Trent Palmer stood just inside the door. “Why are you here?”

His dark green gaze bored relentlessly into hers, his strong jaw set as he reached behind him and shut the door. “I came by to see how you’re doing.”

Traitorous attraction skittered over the surface of her skin before Izzy turned and strode toward the corner she used for staging portrait shots. The fluffy bunnies, huge furry dice and toys she’d used to relax a toddler earlier now felt macabre.

She spun around, clutching a teddy bear. “The same as I was doing yesterday and the day before. I told you I don’t want to see you. I don’t ever want to see you. Why do you keep coming back?”

He came closer, his gaze locked on hers. “You have to talk to me. I was Robbie’s friend. There was nothing—”

“You could do. Fine. I get it, but why do you feel the need to keep coming in here and checking up on me? What do you want me to do? Dance in the street? Kick up my heels at the fairground? God, just leave me alone.”

“There’s a beach party tonight. I want you to come with me.”

She stared. Why him? Why would a man she really liked—a damn firefighter­­—have to pursue her like she was someone worth pursuing? “No.”

He looked at the equipment covering the desk alongside him. He lifted and replaced a camera, the hunch of his wide shoulders indicating his discomfort. Izzy hated that she drew no satisfaction from that…only sadness.

B & N
Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!


Goodreads Author Page:



A tote bag plus a signed copy of the book!

Monday, 21 November 2016

FROZEN MINDS by Cheryl Rees-Price

Hello Cheryl and welcome to the blog. The weather has been absolutely atrocious here in Lancashire these past few days. I hope it hasn't been quite as stormy where you are.

First of all, congratulations on the publication of FROZEN MINDS, the second novel in the DI Winter Meadows Mystery series. What an atmospheric cover!

Can you tell us a little about you?

I’m Cheryl Rees-Price author of the Winter Meadows Mystery series. I trained as an accountant technician and now work as a finance director for a project management company. To combat the boredom of number crunching I spend my evening plotting the demise of deserving characters.

I must say that numbers have always been my phobia. I can't even help my daughter with her maths homework! At least I have the excuse that we do see differently in France - even divisions! Tell me, where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Ideas come from all sources. The idea for the first Winter Meadows came from walking the dog up a disused quarry. I started to think about what would happen if I didn’t make it home. The idea for the second book came from a conversation with a relative. She was having trouble with her boss. To cheer her up I turned her boss into a character in the book. He ended up being the murder victim.

And what is the one thing you absolutely need to write? (quiet, music, an empty house, coffee or chocolate?)

Lots of tea. I work in the kitchen so I am close to the kettle. Unfortunately I have a habit of munching chocolate and biscuits so I’m always a few pounds heavier when I finish a book.

I know exactly what you big problem is cake and cheese.
I find promotion very daunting. In fact, if I'm honest I don't really know what to do when it comes to promoting my work. How do you promote your work? What do you enjoy the most? What do you find the hardest?

My work is promoted on social media and I also give talks at local libraries. The first time I gave a talk I was terrified. My daughter said I looked green before I left the house. After the first minute I started to relax and by the time I got to the Q&A session my heart rate had returned to normal. I enjoy meeting and talking to people but don’t like to be the centre of attention. 

What's your top tip for promoting your work?

Make friends with other authors and join some groups. The ones I have got to know have been so helpful and are always happy to give advice.

Good advice. I have made good friends thanks to Facebook, but I really don't 'get'Twitter. How do you pick the location for a story?

The Winter Meadows series is set in a fictional valley which is based on my local area. I used a fictitious setting so I would have the scope to add buildings and streets. 

I love naming my characters and can spend quite some time finding the name that feels just right. What about you? How do you chose the name of your characters?

I often use baby naming books or take a walk around graveyards and look at names that are popular for certain time periods. If it is a minor character I use the first name that pops into my head. My daughters often accuse me of using names of their friends.

And why not? Some names these days are very original. What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?

The plot usually comes first. I have an idea for a story line and spend a fair amount of time working out the plot. I create the cast before I start on the first draft. Each character is given a profile with description and back story, it helps me keep track as I write

And now for the word association fun test! Look at the words below and choose the first 3 words that come to your mind...

Sun: warm, sea, happy

Winter: snow, Christmas, hats

Writing: letters, stories, pen

Chocolate: Orange, cake, biscuit

Love: Family, friends, hearts

What lovely words you chose, Cheryl! I thank you for being my guest today and wish you lots of success with FROZEN MINDS.

Blurb for Frozen Minds

When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home's residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home - and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents - or is there something even more sinister afoot?

Author Bio

Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats.  After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.

 Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.

 In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking, and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

Sunday, 6 November 2016


I was delighted to receive the news yesterday that my contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE had been awarded a CHILL WITH A BOOK Award.
This is an award given by readers who take account of the following five points:

1. Were the characters strong and engaging?
2. Was the book well written?
3. Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
4. Was the ending satisfying?
5. Have you told your friends about it?

A SPELL IN PROVENCE got a YES for all five questions!

Passion and mystery in the hills of Provence when an ancient spell weaves its dark magic.

After losing her job in England, Amy Carter uses her redundancy payment to start a new life in France, turning Bellefontaine, an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love — least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of the nearby château.
As romance blossoms in the beautiful Provençal countryside, disturbing events at the farmhouse hint at a dark mystery — a destructive, centuries-old attachment between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste. As Amy struggles to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.

A SPELL IN PROVENCE is available from Amazon here both as ebook and paperback, and from Áccent Press Accent Press.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Welcome to Lorna Peel and NEW BLOOD!

I am delighted to welcome Lorna today to talk about her latest release, NEW BLOOD. There is a great giveaway at the end of the post so don't forget to enter for a chance to win lovely prizes!
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: 3 November 2016
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Suitable for 18+
Hello Lorna and thank you very much for coming on the blog today. What a stunning and atmospheric cover you have for NEW BLOOD. You must be delighted with it! 

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 

I’ve always wanted to do something which involved writing. For a long time I wanted to be a journalist and I even did work experience on a local newspaper, but I realised I wasn’t outgoing enough for that so I started writing novels instead!

In three words - What kind of man is Thomas Heaton, your hero?

Shy, reclusive, workaholic.

And in three words - What kind of woman is Sophia Nelson, your heroine?

Inquisitive, thoughtful, practical.

What did Thomas think the first time he saw Sophia?

Thomas studied history of art at university and loves full-figured Renaissance women, so when he sees curvy Sophia Nelson walk into his library, he thinks all his birthdays and Christmases have come at once!

Lovely! And what did Sophia think of Thomas the first time she saw him? 

Thomas is tall, dark, and handsome and Sophia later admits that although he intimidated her, it was lust at first sight.

It sounds like you have the perfect chemistry between your protagonists here, Lorna! Tell me, what is the one thing you absolutely need to write? I need quiet, which I almost never get. What about you?

When I write the first draft of a novel, I need a comfy chair, my laptop, and no interruptions. When I edit, I can have music which isn’t too intrusive in the background.

I love choosing my characters' names. How do you pick yours?

I have a baby name book which I choose names from! I prefer to use traditional names like Robert and Jane (from Only You), Charlie and Kate (from Into The Unknown), Rachel and Matthew (from The Image of Her), and Sophia and Thomas (from New Blood).

Author Bio

Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. Her debut novel, ONLY YOU, a contemporary celebrity romance set in London, England, was published in 2014. INTO THE UNKNOWN, a World War Two romance set in London, the south east of England, and Ireland, was published in 2015 and reached Amazon’s top 20 best sellers in 20th Century Historical Romance. THE IMAGE OF HER, a romantic suspense set in rural England about a woman’s search for her birth mother, was published in May 2016. NEW BLOOD, a romantic suspense set in a stately home in Yorkshire, England, will be published on 3 November 2016.

Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she writes, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).


Sophia Nelson returns to her home town in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?


Amazon UK -

Amazon US -

Universal Amazon Link -

Barnes and Noble -

Smashwords -

Kobo -

iBooks -


She was at Michelle’s at eight o’clock on the dot that evening.

 “Come in.” Michelle smiled. “I’ve just put the kettle on.” They brought their mugs of coffee into the living room and sat on the sofa. “So what’s up? You sounded like you were about to strangle someone yesterday.”

 “Lord Heaton,” she replied simply.

 “What, he’s a pain in the arse?”

 “Yeah, and the rest.”

 “What?” Michelle’s eyes bulged. “Oh, my God, you don’t fancy him, do you?” Sophia looked away. “Sophia?”

 “I don’t know what to do,” she said miserably. “I need to leave but I can’t because I need the money and I need the flat but…”

 “Heaton,” Michelle finished and Sophia smiled sadly and nodded. “Okay, tell me what’s been going on.”

 “Everyone thinks he’s a recluse. He isn’t. I mean, he doesn’t go out much but it’s not like he never leaves the house or anything. I mean, we’ve been going walking together for weeks now—”

 “Walking?” Michelle interrupted incredulously. “Hang on. Hang on. Rewind. You go walking together?”

 “It came up that I go walking and I asked if he’d like to come. He said yes after a bit and we go walking on the moors. Stephanie comes too at the moment, though.”

 “His sister?” Michelle asked.

 Sophia swallowed. “Yes.”

 “Okay. Go on.”

 “I fancied him from the start. Bloody hell, it’s so corny but he’s tall, dark and handsome. But he’s got an awful temper and he smokes.”

 Michelle shrugged. “You can’t have everything.”

 “No. We just…talk. He’s shy and he’s lonely. He hates to admit it but he is. Everyone just treats him like ‘Lord Heaton’ and it’s like he’s become this character and has to keep on playing it. I mean, he continually calls me Ms Nelson. He’s never called me Sophia once.”

 “And what do you call him?” Michelle frowned.

 “Lord Heaton,” she replied. “It sounds ridiculous but he’s never once asked me to call him Thomas.”

And now for the Word Association Fun Test!

Please write the first three words that come to your mind...

day – light, work, eat

night – darkness, sleep, dreams

winter – rain, storms, darkness

summer – rain, humidity, midges

writing – concentration, typing, editing

How very interesting. I have never had these words about summer before...

Thank you for hosting and interviewing me, Marie!

You are very welcome, and I wish you lots of success with NEW BLOOD.

cotton tote bag, magnetic postcard, and a signed postcard
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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Dream up a romance novel for author Helena Fairfax - and win a lovely prize!

I am delighted to welcome my good friend and fellow romance author Helena Fairfax to talk about her new project and a brilliant idea...but I will let her tell you all about it herself...

Hello Marie, and thanks for having me on your blog!

I’m hoping you and your readers can help me. Earlier this year I released two romantic suspense novellas and I’d like to combine them in one edition, along with a short story to finish the series off and bring all the stories to a nice close (and a nice romantic ending!)

Here’s is my dilemma. Although the novellas feature the same characters, they are very different in feel, and so I’m struggling to find a title that will capture the spirit of the series.

The first novella, Palace of Deception, is set in the fictional country of Montverrier – a beautifully hot, bright, sunny country by the Mediterranean sea.

Here is the blurb: When a Mediterranean princess disappears on the eve of her coronation, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting role of her life as her stand-in. But the Royal Palace of Montverrier is full of mystery and whispers of danger. Why does the sinister housekeeper insist Lizzie remains in her rooms? And what has become of the princess?
As Lizzie learns her role, her only confidant is her quiet bodyguard. Lizzie begins to fall for Léon…but what secrets is he keeping from her?

The second novella, The Scottish Diamond is set in Edinburgh, Scotland – an equally beautiful place, but now it’s getting on for autumn and the weather (and the feel of the novella) is much colder and darker and full of evenings by the fire.

Here is the blurb to The Scottish Diamond:

Fair is foul, and foul is fair…”

What do you do when it seems you can’t trust anyone…even the man you love?
When Lizzie Smith begins rehearsals for Macbeth, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.
But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised…

My final short story, A Question by Torchlight, is also set in Edinburgh, during Hogmanay, when the ground is icy and there is frost in the air.

So, here’s where I need some help. What title could I give the combined print edition / boxed set? The Bodyguard Mysteries? Leon and Lizzie? My Year of Danger? I’ve been wracking my brain for ages and haven’t been able to hit on anything I really like!

So, I’ve decided to run a competition to ask for suggestions for a title that will tie these two novellas and short story together.

The WINNER of the Dream up a Title for Helena competition will win the following:

1.     Their TITLE on the cover of the print edition / boxed set

2.     An ACKNOWLEDGEMENT inside the novel

3.     A SIGNED COPY of the finished print version

4.     This beautiful bracelet :)

If any of you have any ideas at all, please let me know your suggestion here in the comments, or on Twitter, or by leaving a comment on my Facebook page, or you can email me at . I’d be very grateful!

I’m keeping the competition open until Friday 21st October and will announce the winning title on my blog ( on Saturday 22nd October. So please do put your thinking caps on - and I hope you can help me out!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Marie. It’s been fun to be here and I’ll be back next week to let you know my title!

I can't wait, Helena. What a great idea! I am sure you will get lots of fabulous titles, and the one that is just right for Lizzie's and Leon's love story. I really enjoyed PALACE OF DECEPTION and THE SCOTTISH DIAMOND, and I am very much intrigued by your short story (I wonder if I can guess what the question might be...)

Good luck to all entrants in the competition!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I Do or Do I? Karen King is my guest today!

I am delighted to welcome fellow Áccent Press author Karen King to the blog today to talk about her novel I DO? OR DO I?which was released by Áccent Press in May 2016.
Hello Karen and welcome. You are a prolific children author and have written several short stories and romance novels, but what did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 

I wanted to be lots of different things, a ballerina (I have two left feet), an air hostess, a nurse, a teacher. I always loved writing, and have always written but never thought of a writer as a career.

I know that's a difficult question to answer, but where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Everywhere! Things I see, do, overhear, my family, friends (I hope they aren’t reading this!)  – I collect snippets of conversations, amusing scenarios, jot them down and file them away for future use.

And what is the one thing you absolutely need to write? (quiet, music, an empty house, coffee or chocolate?)

My laptop or pen and paper. I started my writing career when my four children were little so I don’t need a quiet, empty house (although it is nice!). Coffee and chocolate are nice bonuses but really as long as I have something to write on I can write anywhere.

What are you working on at the moment?

Áccent Press gave me a contract for two more books when they accepted ‘I do?-or do I?’ I’m now working on the third book. I won’t give much away but there is a wedding theme in this one too. I’m also working on a YA and a novel. I always have two or three projects on the go.

Very intriguing...I find the promotion side of being a writer very daunting and quite hard work. How do you promote your work?

I was published for many years without having to do any promotion at all, but that’s all changed now and it didn’t come easy to me at first. I felt like I was being ‘boasty’. Still do sometimes. My favourite platform is Twitter. I love the spontaneity, brevity and fun of Twitter. It’s a great place to connect. Second is Facebook. I use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ too but not to the same extent.

What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?

Usually the characters. The heroine pops into my head and tells me her story then the hero interrupts and gradually I work out a basic plot.

Thank you for your great answers, Karen. And now for the word association fun test...Please tell me what comes into your mind when you see those words:

1. sun       happy, life, warmth

2. moon    stars, night, magical

3. winter       jumpers, snow, coal fires

4. summer     beach, sea, peaceful

5.  chocolate   bliss, relaxing, addictive

Hmm... I feel exactly like you about chocolate! Thank you very much, Karen, for being my guest today. Good luck with all your writing projects.

Author Bio

A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. 'I DO - or Do I?' is her first chick lit for Accent Press. She has been contracted for two more.

Karen has had two other romance novels, several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children's books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Twitter: @karen_king


Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 
The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 
Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question - Who Will She Choose?


Jared must have seen the panic in her eyes because he quickly composed himself and shook Sylvia’s hand. ‘Delighted to meet you. And this must be the bride-to-be.’ He smiled at Cassie as if he’d never met her before. Never held her in his arms, kissed her, made love to her, promised that he’d love her forever and then walked out on her.

She’d often imagined seeing Jared again, wondered how she’d react. Now it all came flooding back and all she could do was remember how utterly devastated she’d felt when he’d walked out on her.

Get a grip, Cassie told herself. That was years ago. You’re over it now. You’re marrying Timothy. Jared is history.

She was suddenly aware that Jared was holding out his hand to her and Sylvia was watching her curiously. She forced a smile on her face and shook his hand, desperately hoping she showed no sign that his touch still made her tingle.

‘Miss Tyler,’ he said smoothly.

‘Call me Cassie,’ she told him. ‘Sorry I kept you waiting.’

‘Not a problem.’

How she wished she’d arrived on time. Jared used to tease her about being late. He probably thought she was still as ditzy as she was back then. If only she’d put on one of her power suits instead of a maxi dress, then she would have looked sophisticated and professional. Like she’d changed; which she had.

Oh God, she was still holding his hand. What must Sylvia think? She quickly removed her hand, tore her gaze from those big brown eyes, and tried to act as if her body wasn’t zinging at his touch. Just like it always had.

‘Take a seat, ladies, and tell me exactly what sort of photographs you’re looking for.’ He glanced down at his notes. ‘I see that the wedding is only two months away.’

‘Yes, we decided against a long engagement,’ Sylvia replied as if she was the bride. She sat down in one of the plush dark brown chairs and indicated for Cassie to take the other seat. ‘Timothy and Cassandra got engaged on Valentine’s Day and we thought a summer wedding would be lovely. Especially when we managed to secure Hollington Castle,’ she paused to make sure this announcement had the desired effect.

Jared nodded, looking suitably impressed, and Sylvia continued, ‘I know it’s short notice but Daniel assured me you’d be able to fit us in.’ She was letting him know that she was on first name terms with the director of the company.

Jared nodded again. ‘We’ve had a cancellation for that date, so yes, we can accommodate you both.’ His gaze flicked to Cassie then back to Sylvia. ‘Would you like a cup of coffee while we discuss the arrangements?’

‘Thank you. Black with no sugar, please.’

Jared raised an eyebrow questioningly at Cassie. ‘And for you, Cassie?’

‘Black with no sugar for me too, please,’ she replied. That would surprise him. She always used to have white coffee with two sugars. The Cassie he used to know had a sweet tooth. At least that was one thing that had changed. Except it hadn’t, really, she was only drinking black coffee to make sure she could get into her wedding dress. Well, to be honest she was drinking black coffee in front of Timothy and his mother because they would frown and remind her about needing to get into the wedding dress. When they weren’t around she still took her coffee with milk and sugar. She thought longingly of the iced mocha she’d be enjoying with Sam later.

Jared pressed the intercom and asked the receptionist to bring in the coffees, then he leant forward, linked his hands under his chin, and gave Cassie the benefit of his full attention. Devastating. She quickly averted her gaze. ‘Now, tell me about the wedding,’ he said. ‘It’s important that I get a feel of the atmosphere you’re trying to create so I know what tone to set with the photos. We aim to be professional but not intrusive. And please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have. We want our clients to be completely happy and relaxed on their special day. We won’t take offence at all if you decide that we aren’t the right photographers for you.’

You’re not! Cassie’s mind was screaming. You’re the very last person I want as my photographer. Ever. For a moment she feared she’d uttered the words aloud, but Sylvia was now talking to Jared, so clearly it was all in her head.

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Sunday, 4 September 2016

A stop at a favourite uncle's and inspiration...

People often wonder how authors get ideas about plots, characters and settings for their stories. I find my inspiration in many different sources - a holiday, a song, painting or road map (I love maps!), an old photo or even a strange dream... My short story SONS OF THE WIND was actually inspired by a holiday I took many years ago after finishing my university degree in Lyon University.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I wanted a bit of an adventure and borrowed my mother's old Renault 5 to tour the South of France for a couple of weeks. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go but no fixed plan.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

My first stop was Avignon where my favourite uncle lived. My uncle Roger was my mother's elder brother, and the most original - some may say eccentric - person I have ever met. I absolutely adored him. He had built his own house, dug his own pond where ducks and grandchildren dived and paddled together (no one ever mentioned germs and health and safety in those days), kept all kinds of animals on his small holding, including pigeons, dogs, vicious turkey cocks, and two parrots -Marco and Polo who warned him from the treetops of the arrival of customers for his bric-à-brac business. He also ran a house clearing business with two elderly gentlemen aptly nicknamed 'Les Deux Vieux' (the two old ones) who must have been a lot stronger than they looked and did not talk much. In fact, now that think about it, I don't think I ever heard them talk at all.

My uncle was a nature lover, and a poet. He would tell you to take great care not to damage a spider web as you went up the stairs. His house was a treasure trove, especially the ground floor where he kept all his bric-à-brac. How I loved looking through his collection of paintings, out of tune pianos and shields and swords, old typewriters, broken dentist chairs and - oh joy...hundreds and hundreds of keys. I think this is where my fascination with old keys must have started.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The day I arrived he and his two elderly assistants had just cleared over a ton of flour from a bankrupt mill and he was wondering what to do with it.

'You don't want any flour, do you?' he asked as we enjoyed a glass of rosé wine in the shade just before lunch.

'Of course not, I'm going on a tour of Provence! What would I do with bags of flour?'

Not in the least upset by my refusal, he suggested a few places for me to visit on my tour. Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue was one of them. I had planned to travel to Arles, but not to Les Saintes Maries. I am glad I listened to my uncle that day and pushed a bit further.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer is a fishing village situated in the heart of the Camargue, between the Rhône river and the Mediterranean sea. It is surrounded by marshes brimming with wildlife. This is where you can find ranches (called 'manades') where bulls and horses are bred. The grey-white Camargue horses are renown for their speed and their beauty, and during cavalcades and 'abrivades' that take place throughout the year, the 'gardians' (Camargue cowboys) show off their skills.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
The village is especially famous for its gypsy festival which takes place on 24th and 25th May. Every year more than 10 000 travellers come from all over Europe to celebrate their patron saint - 'Sara La Noire'. It is for them a time of celebration, of dancing and feasting, of religious worship and catching up with friends and relatives.

Les Saintes Maries is a beautiful and inspiring setting for my short story SONS OF THE WIND which was recently published in LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, an anthology of romantic short stories by international bestselling authors.

I ended up staying several days there during my tour of Provence and I will never forget the evenings spent eating delicious seafood at the terrace of cafés, and listening to the 'gardians' singing and playing the guitar. It felt like a magical place.

Provence 1826. Ten years after her brother disappeared in the marshes of the Camargue, Venetia Rigby receives a letter suggesting he is alive. Will Philippe Dantès, half-gipsy master of Terres Mortes, help her find him when he has his own demons to fight?

LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available here