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Five on Friday with Vanessa Couchman @Vanessainfrance

This was a really interesting interview to take part in and made me think. Thanks to Jill’s Book Cafe for inviting me.

Jill's Book Cafe

Today I’m delighted to feature author Vanessa Couchman. Vanessa has lived in Southwest France since 1997. Being a self-confessed history nut, this is absolutely the right place for her since its perched villages and medieval towns are steeped in history. If like me, love France, Vanessa has a fabulous blog dedicated to her life in France (details below).

She is also very attached to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which she has visited six times. All of these places provide inspiration for her historical fiction.

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The Story Behind the Story: the Corsican Widow

Do you like fiction that’s based on true stories? Today, I explain how a true tale from 18th-century Corsica wouldn’t leave me alone. I just had to write it as a novel.

Ocelot Press

This week, Vanessa Couchman takes over the blog to tell us about the story behind her second Corsica novel, The Corsican Widow.

I am a self-confessed history nut. I’m lucky, then, to live in Southwest France, which is absolutely steeped in history. Some of my novels and short stories are set in the area where I live.

But I have also been captivated by the savagely beautiful island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. I can’t get back there often enough, although this year, sadly, I suspect we won’t have the chance.


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Book review: Vanessa Couchman, Augustine

Augustine launches today, and there’s already a lovely review by historical fiction author Jennifer C. Wilson.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Today, on the blog, I’m featuring the wonderful Augustine, the prequel to the Alouette Trilogy. Having previously reviewed the first in the series, Overture, it was wonderful to go back to the start and meet Joseph and Augustine. 

VanessaCouchman-AugustineHere’s the blurb, to tempt you in…

Love conquers all. Or does it?

Rural France, 1880. Augustine is not conventionally pretty and fears that she may never marry. Joseph rents his land and dreams of owning a farm one day. But without a wife and children, he lacks the help he needs.

When Joseph saves Augustine from a drunkard at a dance, they are immediately attracted to each other. They meet again, and the attraction deepens, but they face opposition from Augustine’s strict parents, who want better prospects for their daughter than Joseph can offer.

And dramatic events threaten to drive them apart.

Will Augustine and Joseph overcome…

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Augustine: Cover Reveal and Launch Details

Augustine, a prequel to the Alouette trilogy, has now been released. This is a novella (about half the length of a standard novel), set in rural Southwest France in the 1880s. It tells the story of Augustine and Joseph, who appear in Book 1 of the trilogy, Overture.

My fab cover designer, JD Smith, has come up with the goods yet again. The cover fits the story really well and is just what I wanted.

Here’s the blurb:

Love conquers all. Or does it?

Rural France 1880. Augustine is not conventionally pretty and fears that she may never marry. Joseph rents his land and dreams of owning a farm one day. But without a wife and children, he lacks the help he needs.

When Joseph saves Augustine from a drunkard at a dance, they are immediately attracted to each other. They meet again, and the attraction deepens, but they face opposition from Augustine’s strict parents, who want better prospects for their daughter than Joseph can offer.

And dramatic events threaten to drive them apart.

Will Augustine and Joseph overcome the barriers? And at what cost?

Set against the rolling landscape and hilltop villages of Southwest France, Augustine is a prequel to the Alouette trilogy. It can be read either as a standalone or before Book 1, Overture.

Augustine is available on Amazon Kindle at 99p (or equivalent).

More news to follow on Book 2 of the trilogy, Intermezzo, which is nearing completion.

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2020. All rights reserved.

  

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The Power of Letters

On the Ocelot Press blog this week, I look at the material and inspiration that letters written many years ago provide for historians and novelists. And The House at Zaronza, based on a true story of hidden letters that came to light more than a century later, is free on Amazon Kindle for a few days.

Ocelot Press

Letters that inspired a novel

What is it about old letters that come to light later that is so appealing to our imagination? In our age of instant communication via email and social media, letter-writing is a rare practice. Why write someone a letter when you can Skype them instead? But for people a century ago, no other means of staying in contact existed. A letter was a personal thing, even if it took some time for it to arrive or for a reply to come back.

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Going Back in Time: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction

An article on some of the sources I use when writing historical fiction.

Ocelot Press

In our continuing series of weekly blog posts, Ocelot author Vanessa Couchman tells us about her research process. And she’s got a surprise for you at the end!

For all historical novelists, research is a vital part of the writing process. Since I took a degree in history, I enjoy the research part enormously. The danger for me is getting so carried away with the research that it threatens to take over the writing!


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Cornflowers and Poppies: Symbols of World War I

A not infrequent occasion when my French life blog coincides with my writing blog. I’m currently writing Book 2 of the Alouette Trilogy, Intermezzo, which is set during World War I. This post looks at the French symbol of WWI, the cornflower, or bleuet.

Life on La Lune

Symbol of Flanders fields

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11th
November, the day the Armistice came into force in 1918. Tomorrow is a public
holiday in France, and remembrance ceremonies will take place at war memorials throughout
the country. Wearing a poppy is common in the UK, symbolising the blood that
flowed and the flowers that grew “in Flanders fields”. The French equivalent, le
bleuet
, or cornflower, is less well known.


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Meet the Ocelots: Overture

Last in our series of posts setting up our characters who are going to be interviewed from next week! Read about Frédéric in Overture today.

Ocelot Press

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Meet the Ocelots series of posts. I’m completing the line-up this week by telling you a little about my novel, Overture, and about my character Frédéric Grandcourt, who’s the subject of an interview next week in our character interview blog hop. Look out for further news on that.


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Interview My Character Blog Hop – Sheriff and Priest: Wimer the Chaplain, by Nicky Moxey

Today it’s my turn to interview a character in the Historical Writers’ Forum “Interview my Character” blog hop. This event has been going on throughout June and will continue through July. I have the great good fortune to be interviewing Wimer, a real-life character who had an interesting – if turbulent – career during the 12th century. He is the main character in Nicky Moxey’s Sheriff and Priest. You can read my review of the book beneath this interview.

And there’s a giveaway! The author has kindly offered a paperback copy of Sheriff and Priest to a UK winner, or an ebook to a winner elsewhere in the world. To enter, simply leave a comment below this post or on the post about this interview on the Facebook page. The draw will be made on 28th June. Good luck!

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Happy Birthday, Zaronza! Win a Signed Copy to Celebrate

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My first novel, The House at Zaronza, is four years old and to celebrate I have one signed paperback copy to award to a lucky winner. Read on to find out how to enter.