Marie Laval is a fellow author with my publisher, Áccent Press. She’s written a couple of historical romances and this is her first contemporary romance. I love France, usually go there once a year, and if I can’t get there this year, I guess I’ll just have to make do with reading Marie’s book instead. Judging by the reviews she’s getting, I won’t be disappointed! Ready to roll, Marie?
Tell me a little about the inspiration behind this book.
I first got the idea for the A Spell in Provence plot during a holiday in the South of France a few years ago. I have always loved the area, where I used to spend happy family holidays as a child. It would be difficult not to be inspired by the landscapes and cloudless blue skies, the lovely hill-top villages or the scents of lavender and wild thyme and rosemary.
When you visit Provence you soon realize how important fountains and springs are for locals. An old Provençal saying even claims that ‘Eici, l’aigo es d’or’, which means ‘Here, water is gold’. There are fountains everywhere – some were very grand and ornate like in Aix-en-Provence, others a plain stone trough with only an old tap spurting fresh water. One fountain in particular captured my imagination. It stood on a secluded square in the small seaside town of Cassis where we had stopped for an impromptu picnic. As soon as I saw it and read its Latin inscription, I knew I had the basis of a plot.
Then I researched the history of the region, in particular the Salyens, who were the local Gallic tribes who lived in the area before the Greeks and the Romans took over that part of France, and I became completely fascinated by the archaeology of their settlements at Glanum and Entremonts. I just had to weave the history of Provence into the plot.
Sounds magic. Do you have any other books published?
I do indeed. My first two novels are historical romances published by Canadian publisher MuseitUp Publishing. Angel Heart is set mostly in France between 1815 and 1818 and is the story of young widow Marie-Ange Norton who travels to France to claim an inheritance escorted by handsome Cuirassier Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, but nothing is as simple as it seems, of course! The Lion’s Embrace is set in 1845 and is the story of Hugo’s son, former French army scout Lucas Saintclair. Harriet, a feisty English heroine, hires his services to rescue her archaeologist father from a gang of Tuaregs who took him prisoner near Tamanrasset. This story has a special place in my heart because it mostly takes place in North Africa where my mother grew up and I did feel a special connection with the landscapes, the art and the music, and of course with the history of the place.
I absolutely loved writing and researching these two novels, so much that I couldn’t leave the Saintclair family alone. My next historical romance, Dancing for the Devil, is the story of Rose Saintclair – Lucas’ sister – and will be published in the summer by Áccent Press.
I know what you mean about having a special connection with certain landscapes. I spent my first few years in India and adore the place. I’ve only set one short story there, to date, but I feel the lure… Tell me, Marie, do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I must confess that, like all my heroines, Amy has quite a few of my personality traits. I don’t think I could relate to a heroine very different from myself as I would be afraid being unable to identify with her thoughts and feelings. Fabien Coste however is the pure product of my imagination – the typical dark, handsome and mysterious hero!
Interesting that you can write a hero quite unlike yourself, but not a heroine! I must ponder the implications of that. Now, are you a plotter or a pantster?
I am a complete pantster, which often causes problems and a lot of wasted time and effort. I would love to plot more and I usually start well, but then things get out of hand and the characters seem to take over.
Control them! So what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on the first draft of a contemporary romance set in Scotland, and I will shortly start the edits for Dancing for the Devil. I must say that although editing is hard work, I can’t wait!
Ooh, I love editing! You can start to see your words shine… Do you have any top tips for authors?
I only have two. The first is to keep writing, no matter what people tell you, and how many rejection letters you receive. It’s your dream and it’s worth it. The second tip is to fall in love with your hero. After all, the man is going to inhabit your life and your dreams for months, so he’d better be worth it!
That’s a great tip, Marie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.
You’re welcome! And thank you very much, Jenny, for welcoming me on your blog today!
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie studied History and Law at university there before moving to Lancashire in England where she worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher of French in schools and colleges. Writing, however, was always her passion, and she spends what little free time she has dreaming and making up stories. Her historical romances Angel Heart and The Lion’s Embrace are published by MuseItUp Publishing. A Spell in Provence is her first contemporary romance. It is published by Áccent Press.
With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, 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 a nearby château. As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.
You can find A SPELL IN PROVENCE on Amazon
You can also buy it in print at