Today, I’m hosting historical romance author Marie Laval! I think you'll agree with me that Marie has lived a most interesting life and has two wonderful books to show for it. Readers leave a comment for a chance to win one of her e-books. But before telling us about your life, Marie, tell us about your two novels.
'Angel Heart', my debut historical romance, was released in October last year. It is set in 1815, just before Napoleon came back from exile in Elba, and is the story of Marie-Ange Norton, a young widow who travels to Beauregard in France to collect an inheritance. She gets entangled in a web of political intrigue and legends about a mystical Templar Cross. During her journey she falls in love with cynical Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, finds out she isn't a widow after all and discovers she had a father she knew nothing about...
My second historical romance, 'The Lion's Embrace', was released last February. It is set mostly in Algeria, North Africa, in 1845. Lucas Saintclair - the son of Marie-Ange and Hugo Saintclair from 'Angel Heart' - is hired as a guide by Harriet Montague to rescue her archaeologist father, who she believes was captured by a gang of Tuaregs near Tamanrasset. During their journey to the far South of the country, Lucas and Harriet encounter bandits, rogue French soldiers and the fierce Tuaregs who guard the tomb of their legendary queen, Tin Hinan. And of course, they fall in love too!
Not at all! I have never been to Algeria, and even less to the Sahara desert but was always deeply attracted by the country because my mother was born and brought up near Algiers. She used to tell us about her house in the orange groves, about diving into the turquoise blue sea to fish sea urchins, about the sirocco wind blowing red Sahara sand all over Algiers... My sisters and I always dreamed of going there one day.
Writing ‘The Lion’s Embrace’ was a fascinating process because I discovered the beautiful landscapes Lucas and Harriet travelled through on their way to Tamanrasset, and the culture of the people they encountered. I was especially interested in the Tuaregs, who are also called ‘The People of the Veil’ or the ‘Blue Men of the Desert’ because of the indigo veil all men wear from around the age of fifteen and never, ever remove.
Having never been there myself, I had to find a way of getting a real ‘feel’ for the place, its people and its history. I surrounded myself with photos and paintings of the Sahara, of oases and ksars (fortified villages) and the Hoggar mountain range. I also read Tuareg poems and legends, and listened to a lot of music, in particular recordings of the imzad, the Tuareg's traditional monochord violin.
That’s one way to capture the feel of a country, eh? Marie, tell us about yourself. I noticed you were born in France and now live in the UK.
When did the writing bug bite you?
I wanted to write for as long as I can remember, but the turning point was winning a short-story competition. I realised that maybe I could actually write well enough for people to enjoy my stories. Then three years ago I attended a one-day Romance Writing Workshop organised by Calderdale Libraries. I was so fired up when I came home that I started writing a novel straight away. I always loved reading romances, historical romances in particular historical romances, so I just went for it!
It didn’t take you long to get published at all. I’ve known people who write for twenty years before getting that first contract. So what’s next? Where will you take us in your next novel?
Scotland! The very far North of Scotland - Cape Wrath and Sutherland to be exact. I am staying with the Saintclair family a little longer. This time, Rose Saintclair, Lucas' sister, is travelling to Scotland to be reunited with the husband she's only just married in Algiers. Her ship is caught in a storm and finds shelter at Wrath harbour, where Rose is rescued by Bruce McGunn, the local laird and her husband's mortal enemy. I won't say anymore for now...
Can’t wait. Where can we buy your novels that are already out?
Both 'Angel Heart' and 'The Lion's Embrace' are published by MuseitUp Publishing and are available from:
Marie, I’ve purchased The Lion’s Embrace and can’t wait to read it. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. Readers don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win one of Marie’s amazing novels.
Thank you so much Suzanne for welcoming me on your blog. I look forward to reading comments and answering questions from readers. Please let me know in your comment which book you’d like to receive, then I’ll contact you later on.