Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Writer and friend, Sophie Claire...

... is visiting my blog today.  Hi, Sophie, thanks for making time to be here.  So, tell me, why do your books feature Provence as a setting for part or all of the story?

A sensual place
Well firstly, it’s a special place, as anyone who’s visited will know.  The colours are intense, the air is rich with the perfume of pine trees and sun-baked earth, and the pace of life is different from anywhere I know: it’s calmer and more relaxed, perhaps due to the intense heat.  All this provides a very sensual backdrop for my books, which is useful because I write sensual, emotional stories.

My childhood memories
But the other reason I set my books in Provence is that, as a child, I spent every summer there at my grandparents’ house.  They lived near Sanary, a picturesque fishing port turned tourist hotspot, and I have wonderful memories of trips to the beach, visiting hilltop villages, and big family meals with delicious French cooking (my grandmother was an excellent cook).

The weather
Although Provence is known for its heat and sun, the weather can be volatile, and this is useful in fiction writing.  The Mistral wind blows fiercely in Provence and it’s bitterly cold, even in summer.  It also brings the risk of forest fires, too, so the mention of it adds a subtle note of menace.
Storms are another dramatic feature of Provencal weather.  The last two weeks in August are notorious for storms.  I remember several occasions when our house came close to flooding and the lights went out (always useful in a book for forcing characters together), and the thunder and lightning were far more exciting than anything we’d experienced in the UK.  I like to use these kind of extreme weather conditions to ramp up the tension in my books and make my poor characters suffer.

Village life
Although tourists tend to take over the region during the high season, for the rest of the year Provence can be quiet, and there’s a strong sense of community in its towns and villages.  Family values are important here too, and in my novels I love to show the close bonds which this creates.  Travel through any Provencal village and you’ll see locals stopping to chat or catching up over coffee.  This slow pace and tightly-knit community spirit contrasts greatly with the solitary lives and busy pace most of us are used to, and is something readers are drawn to.

An escape
In my latest book, The Christmas Holiday, Provence is where my characters, Jake and Evie,
flee to at Christmas.  They hope it will be an escape because the holiday season is a painful time for them.  But being alone together also forces them to get to know each other more intimately, and it becomes increasingly difficult for them to ignore the attraction which has been simmering beneath the surface. 
When it’s raining in Manchester (which it often is), the sun-soaked landscapes of Provence provide an escape for me, and there’s nothing I like more than to let my imagination carry me away to a place where the cicadas sing all summer, and the smell of lavender perfumes the warm air.

You can follow Sophie on her Website on Facebook Twitter and on Amazon
You can get Sophie's book Here

Thank you Sophie, and another fellow Author on the Edge will be visiting the blog next month, so watch this space...


  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Angela. I really enjoyed talking about my favourite place.x

  2. You're very welcome and I always love chatting about France!