Today historical and contemporary romance author Marie Laval sits down with us for an interview. Originally from Lyon, France, Marie now lives in Lancashire, England where she teaches French. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I always loved writing. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I was always making up stories and scribbling in a diary or a notebook, but that always in French. I started writing short stories in English several years ago, and when one got published, another won a prize and yet another got shortlisted in an international competition, I thought that maybe I could indeed write in English after all. So I started writing novels!
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
It took a couple of years, and quite a few disappointments. At one point, my husband urged me to stop sending my manuscript to publishers because, as he said, we would soon be able to wallpaper the back room with all my rejection letters. Needless to say, I didn't listen. When you love writing, you can't just stop. You have to carry on and keep believing in yourself.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published. My first two historical romances, Angel Heart and The Lion’s Embrace are published by Canadian publisher MuseitUp Publishing. A Spell in Provence and my forthcoming historical Dancing for the Devil are published by Áccent Press.
Where do you write?
In my small, cramped and very messy dining room. This is where I set up my laptop and the printer. I dream of having my own space, with all my files and photographs and books. And a nice view too! Perhaps one day...
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I need silence but I very rarely get any, except if I get up very early on weekends and sneak downstairs before my family wakes up. Having said that, music is also essential to me, and with every one of my writing projects there are one or two 'special' songs I listen to in order to reconnect with the moods and feelings of my characters.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
They are purely fiction, although I must confess that I usually base my heroines on myself a little bit.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I don't have a specific process. Most of the time, the hero's and heroine's names just pop into my mind and feel 'right'. With A Spell in Provence, however, I had to change my heroine's name for the second draft because I no longer felt that the name I'd chosen suited the character I wanted to write about.
Real settings or fictional towns?
A mixture of both. I do set my novels in real locations, which I either know well or research, but I always invent places, too, whether it is a village or a castle...
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
I would have loved to write The Lady in White by Wilkie Collins.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Mine would be a personality do-over. I would love to be more assertive and more confident...
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People being nasty to one another.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My three children (although that may be a little selfish, since they may not want to be stranded with me!)
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
When I was a student, I worked as a secretary in a very posh hotel in my hometown of Lyon for a few hours every week. Part of my job was to serve champagne to the very well-to-do ladies attending the cookery lessons of the chef every Wednesday afternoon. They were very snooty and unpleasant, and I hated every minute of it!
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
This is a very difficult question. There are so many books I have enjoyed over the years, and so many authors I love. I don't think I can answer this!
Ocean or mountains?
City girl or country girl?
What’s on the horizon for you?
My historical romance Dancing for the Devil will be released later on this year by Áccent Press. I am working on another contemporary romance and researching background for a couple of historical romantic novels.
A Spell in Provence
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.