Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Come stroll with me...

...through the city of Marseille.  Last month I took you to a place I just had to see, the remains of the old theatre Alcazar-Lyrique on Cours Belsunce.  And I kind of left you there!

Doorway, rue Nationale
Today, that's where I'm starting from, in the very spot where I was stood previously.  From this viewpoint, if you look to your left, you will see the corner of a typically narrow side street, rue Nationale.  But it's the doorway and the building facing us that I want to draw to your attention.  It's one of many in this city with stunning masonry work.  And yes, I know the spectacular masonry is somewhat marred by the graffiti - which does seem to be everywhere - but wouldn't you want to be able to walk through such a doorway.  As I stand here I can't help but wonder what is on the other side - marble floors perhaps, beautifully moulded ceilings maybe?  An ornate sweeping staircase? Who knows?
We will continue, as there is something else I want you to see. I caught a glimpse of a vast triumphal arch as I was approaching the old theatre.  Although I had not originally intended to go onto rue d'Aix, I just had to check out that arch.  My mind is thinking Roman, and my assumption is at least 2000 years old. But I'm distracted, as I walk past the patisserie d'Aix,  by that sweet smell of jasmine and baklava.  I can't stop myself eyeing all those deliciously sticky pastries piled high in the windows.
Rue d'Aix climbs steadily along a narrow street flanked by three and four-storey buildings.  At the end, it opens out into a sunny space in the centre of which is the Porte d'Aix.  A vast triumphal arch sitting amidst the passing traffic.  As I gaze at it, I quickly realise my assumption has one nought too many.  There's not a single toga, tunic or helmet on any of the freezes that adorn the faces of the arch.  Not that that is a reason to ignore this particular monument.
Back at the place where I'm staying, I look up the arch.  In 1660 Louis XIV invaded the city of Marseille, using as his entry point the gateway that marked the route from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence.  The original Porte d'Aix was constructed of vast arches that supported the viaduct l'Huveaune which brought water from the river Huveaune into the city.  Having destroyed the 13th-century city walls and ransacked what remained inside them, Louis decided he wanted this essential acquisition and gateway to trade with the Levant to be made pretty.  He commissioned new shipyards, fortifications and the triumphal arch that now bears the name Porte d'Aix.  However, the achievement of this particular goal stalled. 
Porte d'Aix
It wasn't until 1784 that a decision was made to create the arch and to dedicate it to the peace following the American war of independence.  Regrettably, the monument continued to remain only a plan because the French revolution and Napoleon got in the way.  In 1823, building finally began, and the arch was dedicated to the French victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Trocadero.  Completed in 1839, it survived the fight for the city in 1944.  OK, it's not Roman, but I'm still glad I happened upon it.
As for the portico, that took a little more time, effort, and research back home in the UK.  The doorway in rue National once belonged to the Hotel Pesciolini.  Built in 1672/3, the building was initially commissioned as a private dwelling by the Pesciolini family, Hercules Pesciolini being a trader and banker from a family in Tuscany.  The destiny of the building is sketchy and precisely who lived there until it was rented out in 1693 I found challenging to track down.  But in 1708 it was sold for the first time and from then on the building passed through numerous transactions.  It appears that it is now back in private ownership.  Having exhausted my research, I wonder if should have been cheeky that day I was stood in Cours Belsunce and knocked on the door and asked for a viewing!  On second thoughts, probably not.

STOP PRESS #MeettheAuthor :  I will be at Parisot Library (Place de l'Eglise, 82160) on September 28th from 10.30 am.  It would be great to see you there if you can make it.

Marseille will is now available for pre-order Here  and you can read more about the city of Marseille Here  Here and Here

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Please welcome, friend and author, Rosemary J Kind..

...to the blog this week.  Hello rosemary and thanks for being here.  Tell me, what is your current release?
RJK  The Blight and the Blarney – it’s a novella and is available as a free download. I’ve written it as a prequel to The Tales of Flynn and Reilly telling the story of how Daniel’s family came to leave Ireland and head for America.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
RJK  From the day I could control a pen I’ve needed to write – anything, everything. For me it’s an essential outlet and not doing it would be unthinkable.  I was brought up on literature and surrounded by poetry, novels, short stories and non-fiction.  My mum and I would quote favourite lines to each other.  Reading and writing are as much a part of my life as breathing.
AW  You write historical, contemporary novels, humour and non-fiction.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
RJK  There is an awful lot of research, especially for my historical novels.  For that matter my non-fiction has taken years of learning a subject before I’ve gone on to write about it.  I don’t like there to be factual inaccuracies if they can possibly be avoided, but that can mean many hours of trying to track down specific pieces of information.  One that took me quite a while was trying to find out when pay and display car parks first came into operation!  With historical fiction it is much harder as some of the information you need has not apparently been preserved.  Then you have to decide how much of a risk there is in making something up only to find there was a source but you just hadn’t managed to find it.
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
RJK  Yes, I’ve not only written short stories but for six years ran one of the biggest short story download sites in the world, which I’d built from scratch.  We had the privilege to launch quite a number of writing careers.  I also write what has been listed as being one of the UK’s top ten pet blogs for the last few years.  I’ve written it every day for over thirteen years and only started it as a bit of fun.  Alfie, my dog whose diary it is, also has his own political party so has co-authored with me the Pet Dogs Democratic Party Manifesto amongst other things.
I’ve written a crime novel, a contemporary novel and other humorous books too.  Now I’m enjoying focusing on historical fiction.
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
8yr old rosemary
RJK  No, I can write anywhere and often do.  I’ve written in hotels, on public benches, even while walking the dog if something has come to me.  I travel a lot so need to be able to write wherever I am.
AW   Finally, what would your eight-year old self think of, and say about, you today?
RJK My eight-year-old self was a precocious child.  She’d be thrilled and excited about where I’ve got to, but want to do it better and faster and what’s worse she’d truly believe she could.  She still drives me.  I’m pleased to say we’re still on speaking terms.  She does remind me to stop and pick daisies and buttercups now and again and never fails to want to make friends with every passing dog.  I think I’ve become the person she wanted to be and she’d be proud of that.

...about the book  Ireland has suffered from potato blight since 1845.  Friends and neighbours have died, been evicted or given up what little land they have in search of alms.  Michael Flynn is one of the lucky ones.  His landlord has offered support.
Michael and his family have done all they can to help their immediate household, but as the famine and its aftermath continue, have their efforts been enough?
With the weakening brought about by hunger, there are some things he is powerless to protect his family from.  Is it time for the great Michael Flynn to take his family in search of a better life?
...about the author  Rosemary J Kind writes because she has to.  You could take almost anything away from her except her pen and paper.  Failing to stop after the book that everyone has in them, she has gone on to publish books in both non-fiction and fiction, the latter including novels, humour, short stories and poetry.  She also regularly produces magazine articles in a number of areas and writes regularly for the dog press.
As a child she was desolate when at the age of 10 her then teacher would not believe that her poem based on ‘Stig of the Dump’ was her own work and she stopped writing poetry for several years as a result.  She was persuaded to continue by the invitation to earn a little extra pocket money by ‘assisting’ others to produce the required poems for English homework!
Always one to spot an opportunity, she started school newspapers and went on to begin providing paid copy to her local newspaper at the age of 16.
For twenty years she followed a traditional business career, before seeing the error of her ways and leaving it all behind to pursue her writing full-time.
She spends her life discussing her plots with the characters in her head and her faithful dogs, who always put the opposing arguments when there are choices to be made.
Always willing to take on challenges that sensible people regard as impossible, she established and ran the short story download site Alfie Dog Fiction for six years building it to become one of the largest in the world, representing over 300 authors and carrying over 1600 short stories.  She closed it in order to focus on her own writing.
Her hobby is developing the Entlebucher Mountain Dog in the UK and when she brought her beloved Alfie back from Belgium he was only the tenth in the country.
She started writing Alfie’s Diary as an Internet blog the day Alfie arrived to live with her, intending to continue for a year or two.  Thirteen years later it goes from strength to strength and has been repeatedly named as one of the top ten pet blogs in the UK.

You can follow Alfie on his Blog and on Twitter

You can buy Rosemary's books from Amazon and you can follow her on  LinkedIn  Instagram  Facebook  and on her Website

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Art of Collaboration...

...writer and friend, Helena Fairfax, joins me on the blog this week.  Hello Helena and thanks very much for being here and it's over to you...

If you’ve followed Angela’s blog for a while you’ll know last year we were both part of an anthology of short stories called Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings.
There are nine stories in the anthology, and nine authors.  Although we’re all members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, we each have a very different style of writing and we write different genres, from romantic comedy to Regency romance.
Miss Moonshine and her little shop in Haven Bridge appear in each of the nine stories.  Reviewers have loved our main character, and despite the fact our styles are very different, our Miss M and her little chihuahua, Napoleon, appear in the same mysterious – and loveable! – way throughout.
Each story flows seamlessly from one to the next, but, as is often the case, although the writing appears effortless, getting the anthology to read consistently required planning and careful editing.  First of all, we set up a sort of ‘Miss Moonshine Style Guide’, so that we each described her appearance in the same way, and to make sure her dialogue was consistent.  One of our authors, Marie Laval, came up with the brilliant idea of basing Miss Moonshine on Vivienne Westwood.  This was perfect! Vivienne Westwood has just the right timeless appeal.  She also has the right northern accent, and, since she’s a designer with an eye-catching style, using her as a starting point meant we could each have fun dressing our own individual Miss Moonshine.
Once all the stories were written and collated, there were a few issues that came to light.  Chihuahua with a capital ‘C’, or chihuahua? Does Miss Moonshine prefer ‘dear’ or ‘love’?
There was also the location of the shop to consider.  Some of us had the emporium on Market Street, and some on the high street.  Several of us featured a packhorse bridge, based on the real Packhorse Bridge in Hebden Bridge.  Where was the bridge in relation to her shop?  A couple of minutes’ walk or a ten-minute drive?  When not writing, I also work as a freelance editor, and these are the sorts of things I consider when editing.  It only takes one inconsistency for the reader to be thrown out of the story.
Our inspiration for Miss M's shop
Our approach and our rigorous editing must have paid off, because we’ve had some wonderful reviews, such as: ‘As an initial premise I wondered how such a collection from different writers would succeed in one book – I need not have worried’, and ‘Brilliant idea that different authors wrote each story and they came together so well.’
We’re now working on a second anthology, Miss Moonshine at Christmas, to be released in September.  I’ve already begun work on editing the stories.  (It’s been wonderful to read about frosty streets during the heatwave!)  It’s an absolute pleasure to work with the other authors in this anthology, who all take a professional and creative approach to their writing, and who have such wonderful ideas.  I’m very much looking forward to giving our Miss Moonshine another outing in the fictional town of Haven Bridge.  Roll on Christmas!

...about the author  Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child.  She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the Yorkshire moors.  She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.
Helena is a freelance editor and a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She’s also addicted to reading and will read the back of the cornflakes packet if there’s nothing else available.
...about the book  Kate Hemingway is prickly and aloof...or at least, that’s what she likes people to think.  Since the death of her photographer husband, Stuart, the only people Kate allows near are her best friend, Orla, and her son, George.  She loves them both more than anything in the world.  Everyone else she keeps at a distance...including Paul Farrell.
Paul was Stuart’s closest friend.  An ex-war journalist, he and Kate have one thing in common.  They both seem equally distant.  Then Paul publishes an article, revealing an astonishing secret.  On a trip to the Yorkshire moors with a group of teenage girls, Kate's scarred heart begins to open up.
But can she risk her son’s happiness, as well as her own?

You can follow Helena on her Website, on TwitterFacebook, on Amazon or by subscribing to her Newsletter for news and occasional free stuff

Thank you so much for having me, Angela. I’m looking forward to the release of our Christmas Miss Moonshine!

Me too and thank you, Helena. Another fellow Author on the Edge will be visiting the blog next month, so watch this space...

Kate Field  Melinda Hammond  My Own Post  Helen Pollard  Jacqui Cooper   

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Please welcome friend and author, Maggie Cobbett...

...to the blog this week.  Maggie, hi, and thanks for being here.  So, tell me a bit about yourself and then I really want to hear about your book, which is set in France - my favourite place to visit!

MC  Thank you for inviting me, Angela.  I’ve been fortunate enough to combine my love of travel with studying and teaching modern languages – French, German and EFL – all of which are reflected in much of my fiction.  Methodology has changed immensely over the years, I’m glad to say, with far greater emphasis now given to conversational skills than was the case at my Leeds grammar school.  A top ‘O’ level grade was of very little use, I found, when first struggling to get directions on the Paris Métro!
The three English schoolgirls whose unsolved disappearance is at the heart of my novel Shadows of the Past face a similar dilemma, and I’ve just brought out a short prequel to explain the background to this.  Foreshadowing, which is free to download from Amazon or Smashwords, explains just why they felt it so necessary to spend time in France before facing their ‘A’ level oral the following year and what enticed them to choose that particular area.  It also goes into some detail about the love lives of teenagers just before the Swinging Sixties, when fear of public condemnation still kept most girls on the straight and narrow.
Shadows of the Past began life as a memoir of a very strange summer my friends and I spent at an international youth work camp in a forested area just outside Paris.  The dormitories were in tunnels deep underground and the food was atrocious, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  Our sketchy French meant that we had little idea of what was going on most of the time.  The ‘patron’ had an explosive temper, the work he demanded of us seemed largely pointless and he had frequent visits from sinister individuals who might have stepped straight out of a ‘film noir’.  He allowed us to go down into the nearby village in the evenings, where we were often cornered by old (to us) men wanting to regale us with their tales of derring do in the French Resistance.  They also spoke with much relish and frequent resort to sign language about the savage treatment meted out to collaborators, especially women who had slept with German soldiers.  Much of it went over our heads, but it was evident that wartime memories were still very fresh.  Nothing had been either forgiven or forgotten.
The gaps were filled in for me when I revisited the area decades later (with greatly improved French) and re-established contact with the one village boy I’d always remembered with fondness.  All traces of the work camp had disappeared by then – the fearsome ‘patron’ had been jailed for a variety of criminal activities – and the tunnels were blocked off, but Jean-Claude, his family and their friends spent many hours telling me about the history of the region.  It was then that the idea came to me of writing a novel spanning three time periods.
In the 1980s, a stranded traveller called Laura makes a gruesome discovery in the forest and, ignoring warnings to leave well alone, begins to unravel the mystery of the English schoolgirls’ disappearance.  The older inhabitants of Saint-André-la-Forêt have many secrets that they are determined to keep, come what may.  A double flashback follows, first to the1960s and then to the dark days of the Occupation before Laura has all the answers.  But will she live to tell the tale?

...about the author  Born in Leeds, Maggie studied at the University of Manchester and then spent more years than she cares to remember teaching secondary school pupils and adults in England, France and Germany.  Now retired and living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Maggie makes the occasional appearance as a ‘village regular’ on ‘Emmerdale’ and continues to write long and short fiction, articles on a variety of subjects, ‘fillers’ and even the occasional poem.

...about the book  Not far from Paris lies the village of Saint-André-la-Forêt, where three English schoolgirls disappear without trace during the summer of 1965.  Twenty years later, a stranded traveller stumbles across a skeleton in the nearby forest and ignores local people's warnings to leave well alone.  The secrets she uncovers, some dating back to the darkest days of World War 2, are more than enough to put her own life in danger.

You can follow Maggie on her website  on Amazon  Twitter  and  Facebook or by Email on : maggiecobbett@gmail.com