Epiphany, the Day of the Kings, in France


Galette des Rois, the Kings’ cake, traditionally eaten in France at Epiphany. Copyright PhotoXpress


This is another of my contributions to Christmas with the Crooked Cats, our seasonal serving of short stories, poetry and non-fiction articles. The Twelve Days of Christmas are almost over, but our event goes on until 9th January.

Epiphany takes place tomorrow, but Crooked Cat friend Sue Barnard will be posting then, so here is an avant-première about this festival. This was originally published on my French life blog, Life on La Lune.Continue reading “Epiphany, the Day of the Kings, in France”

A Corsican Christmas in Times Past

Nonza - church
Church at Nonza on Cap Corse

I live in southwest France but I’m very attached to the island of Corsica and fascinated by its culture and customs.

My historical novel The House at Zaronza takes place mostly on Corsica during the early 20th century. The main character, Maria, goes to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve with her parents. How did Corsicans celebrate Christmas in the past? Continue reading “A Corsican Christmas in Times Past”

Corsica, Setting for THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA, a Top Destination

Saint-Florent, Corsica
Saint-Florent, Corsica

Have you been to Corsica? No? Then get there fast: National Geographic Traveler Magazine recently put Corsica in the no. 1 spot out of its top 20 chosen destinations for 2015.

I’m not surprised. The island has everything: a wonderful landscape with azure seas, jagged mountains and perched hilltop villages, a fascinating culture and a turbulent history. 

Continue reading “Corsica, Setting for THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA, a Top Destination”

…Authoress Vanessa Couchman shares the genesis of her historical novel, THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA…

Prolific and highly successful author, Seumas Gallacher, kindly invited me onto his blog today. I talk about the inspiration behind The House at Zaronza.

Seumas Gallacher

…yeez may often wonder as do I, from whence (posh WURD, that, Mabel, ‘whence’…it means ‘from where’) Authors derive their ideas and plots … sum’times it’s a wee incident that sticks in yer mind… other times the glimpse of a place and a feeling yeez get while ye’re there… or p’raps a soupçonof an urban myth that triggers the creative writer’s grey cells… whatever it may be, my Guest Blogger today, the LUVLY Vanessa Couchman lets yeez into the genesis of her fine historical novel, THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA ( I just LUV the ring of that title!)

Vanessa with HAZ 30-7


A Gift for a Novelist

Thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog, Seumas.

Sometimes a gift drops into your lap when you least expect it. That’s how my historical novel, The House at Zaronza, came about.

Serendipity works in strange ways. We’ve been…

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Here is my interview with Vanessa Couchman

I’m interviewed on Fiona McVie’s blog.



Name Vanessa Couchman

Age Old enough to have achieved experience but probably not wisdom.

Where are you from I grew up in southern England but I have lived full-time in south-west France for the past 17 years.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

I grew up with books. When I was very young, my mother, who was a Bookaholic, read to me. I learned to read before I went to school and later devoured the contents of my parents’ set of encyclopedias, especially the Greek and Norse myths. It was there that my interest in storytelling started. I almost became a doctor but wasn’t good enough at the maths, so I changed to arts subjects and read History at Oxford University. Writing has been a golden thread throughout my career, but it was non-fiction writing up until four years ago, when I took up writing…

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2014 A to Z Challenge: C

Fellow Crooked Cat author Miriam Drori is taking part in an A to Z challenge to pair authors for each letter. Today, I’m bracketed with double Booker Prize Winner Peter Carey.

Miriam Drori, Author

AuthorsPeter Carey

Wikipedia says,

Peter Philip CareyAO (born 7 May 1943) is an Australian novelist, known primarily for being one of only three writers to have won the Booker Prize twice—the others being J. M. Coetzee and Hilary Mantel. Carey won his first Booker Prize in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda, and won for the second time in 2001 with True History of the Kelly Gang. In May 2008 he was nominated for the Best of the Booker Prize.

Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award three times and is frequently named as Australia’s next contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In addition to writing fiction, he collaborated on the screenplay of the film Until the End of the World with Wim Wenders and is executive director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Hunter College, part of the City University of…

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My novel, The House at Zaronza, to be published by Crooked Cat Publishing

Life on La Lune

Saint-Florent, Corsica Saint-Florent, Corsica

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel, The House at Zaronza, will be published by independent publishers Crooked Cat Publishing, probably this summer. The novel is based partly on a true story, which we discovered on holiday in Corsica in 2012. It is set against the backdrop of early 20th-century Corsica and World War I. You can read more about it here.

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Very Close Runner-Up in Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition

I need to point out that this is an old post, written in December 2013. Anyone wanting the results of the current Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition will have to wait until they are officially released. 

A couple of months ago, I entered the first 3,000 words and synopsis of my novel, The House at Zaronza: A Tale of Corsica, in the Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition. The competition is run by Lorraine Mace and was held for the first time in 2013. In December, the results were out. Continue reading “Very Close Runner-Up in Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition”

The Next Big Thing – Writers Abroad’s Latest Anthology

I’ve reblogged this from my French life blog.

Life on La Lune

FFA 2013
Front cover

**Please note this post dates from 2013, but the anthology is still available on Amazon.**

Every year since 2010, the online writing group for expat writers to which I belong – Writers Abroad – has published an anthology. Since we are spread across the globe and all the work is carried out online, this is a quite a feat of virtual collaboration. Foreign and Far Away, this year’s effort, will be published next Monday 21st October.

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National Flash Fiction Day 16th May 2012

Tomorrow, 16th May, is National Flash-Fiction Day (NFFD) in the UK, celebrating this short story form.

What is flash fiction? A very short but complete story, normally 500 words or less. It usually has an unexpected twist at the end which resolves in some way the problem posed at the beginning for the main character.

FlashFlood, the NFFD journal, will be publishing flash fiction stories throughout the day from midnight. They have selected one of my stories, ‘Chronicle of an Ending’ to appear on their site between 18h00 and 19h00 UK time.

Submissions close at 23h59 UK time tonight if you fancy having a go. Details are on the FlashFlood site.

For some reason the link will not appear. So here it is disguised against spammers.  http://flashfloodjournal[dot]blogspot[dot]co[dot]uk/