Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I'm fascinated by how things long past can still impinge on the living. Old places, lost secrets, family history: these elements infuse my writing. I sense it's due to my being adopted and not meeting a blood relative till my mid-twenties.
My love of writing stories emerged in primary school, and when I eventually learned that my by-blood uncle and great grandfather had been the storytellers in their village up in the mountains of norther Greece, it made perfect sense.
I grew up in the Far East, UK and southern France but now live in a very young country – New Zealand – with my husband and two adult children.
I've published two books so far, and have another 2.5 'practice' ones sitting on my hard drive.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is "The Lascote Legacy". It's set in the deep south of France and is the second in my series "Echoes of the Cathars". I describe the series as modern romantic suspense with strong Gothic overtones. That means a lonely heroine, a hard-to-trust hero, a spooky house, wild scenery, and secrets – loads of secrets! – dating back hundreds of years.
The trigger for the series was a trip to an almost perfectly preserved medieval hilltop town in southern France, called Cordes-sur-Ciel. It was the most romantic place I'd ever seen, with fine views and warm sun on old stones. I thought it would be the ideal setting for a romance novel…and then I started noticing the many strange carvings and peculiar street names. Intrigued, I read up on its history and discovered it had been built as a refuge in the thirteenth century for a persecuted group of Christians called the Cathars. My first book, "The House on Rue Obscure" is set in Cordes, with the long-lost Cathar treasure (mythical? who knows) woven into its plot.
"The Lascote Legacy" continues the theme but is set further south in the wild landscape of the Montagne Noire, the Black Mountain. Think of Jane Eyre set in Wuthering Heights country, and brought up to date.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
None at all, but I wish I had better habits of output and diligence!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I adore Mary Stewart. Wikipedia describes her as 'a British novelist who developed the romantic mystery genre, featuring smart, adventurous heroines who could hold their own in dangerous situations.' What really distiguishes her, for me, are her evocative descriptions of foreign countries. I dragged my new husband on a trip to the island of Crete, entirely on the basis of Mary Stewart's lyrical descriptions of lemon groves, white mountainsides, deep ravines and egrets.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on the third book in my "Echoes of the Cathars" series. It's set in 2017, even deeper into the south of France than the other two, and features the daughter of the hero of the first book.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I take a portfolio approach – a mix of paid and free sites – and I have never tested them separately. I'm always reading up on what other people say has worked for them, and adjusting my mix accordingly. As I gain a little experience, I'm adding more paid sites.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write, Publish, Repeat (hat tip to Self Publishing Podcast trio)
You can't expect lightning to strike, alas, so your best bet is to focus on what you can control. And the key things you control are your output and your cover.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Be like William Faulkner who only wrote when inspiration struck. He added, "Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”
What are you reading now?
I just picked up "Old Bones" by Aaron Elkins. His forensic anthropologist hero solves mysteries by spotting clues on skeletons. This book is set in France, near Mont-St-Michel – yes, I like books set in places I've had – or want to have- great holidays!
What’s next for you as a writer?
I'm pondering a new series starring a genealogist who gets caught up in unusual cases for difficult clients.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The one I'd take to a desert island is "Monsignor Quixote' by Graham Greene. It was his final book, and is full of wisdom, gentle wit, friendship, and roadside picnics of bread and Manchega cheese, washed down with red wine.
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