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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.

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Feature: French flavour with Vanessa Couchman

Did 18th-century Corsicans eat potatoes? Fellow Ocelot Press author Jennifer C. Wilson kindly invited me to her Sunday Sojourn slot today, in which I talk about food in fiction and how I found out what Corsicans did eat, for my latest novel.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Historical fiction with a French flavour (1)Morning all! Today, I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog Vanessa Couchman, to tell us about something very close to my heart – food! Over to you Vanessa!

Thank you for inviting me to your Sunday Sojourn, Jennifer. It’s always a pleasure to be here.

Food in fiction

The Corsican Widow Cover MEDIUM WEBThe Corsican Widow, released recently, is my latest novel in the Tales of Corsica series. It’s set on the Mediterranean island of Corsica and in Marseilles during the mid/late 18th century. This was a time of great turbulence for Corsica, which was owned then by the city state of Genoa. The Corsicans struggled for independence and set up their own republic, but this was doomed to failure when the Genoese sold the island to the French in 1768.

I needed to do a lot of background research to find out how Corsican people lived during that period. What sort…

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Book news: The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman

Historical fiction author Kate Braithwaite kindly invited me to an interview on her blog. I talk about the inspiration behind my latest novel, The Corsican Widow, recommend some books and a favourite movie and give a few snippets of writing advice.

Kate Braithwaite

Last week Vanessa Couchman’s latest novel The Corsican Widow was released and I’ve been lucky to have the chance to ask Vanessa some questions about her new book and writing in general.

The Corsican Widow Cover MEDIUM WEBCorsica, 1755. Can Valeria Peretti escape the destiny that is mapped out for her?

While the island struggles for independence against its Genoese masters, she must marry an older, wealthy man. A quiet, respectable life apparently awaits Valeria, but a prophecy on the eve of her betrothal spells misfortune ahead.

As her life unfolds, Valeria’s attempts to fight against her fate bring her into conflict with the unbending moral code of Corsican society. She must make a choice between her personal wishes and social duty that will cast her far away from Corsica’s shores.

Inspiring Corsican landscape

Vanessa, welcome! How did you come to write this story?

I didn’t actually set out to write this particular story, but I stumbled upon…

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History People: Nicola Slade, History and Mysteries

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Nicola Slade

It’s a great pleasure to welcome Nicola Slade to the blog today, especially as she has also written a “The House At…” novel! The House at Ladywell was published a couple of days ago and combines historical and romantic fiction. Nicola is a prolific author whose previous books have mostly been historical mysteries. Let’s find out how she got into writing them.

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Sunday Sojourn – The French Collection

Jennifer C. Wilson kindly invited me to her blog today to talk about how France has inspired my new collection of short stories, French Collection.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Happy Sunday everyone! So, who is giving NaNoWriMo a go? One idea I heard at the last North Tyneside Writers’ Circle was that, if you don’t fancy giving a novel a go, you can try drafting a short story each day. With that in mind, my guest today is the lovely Vanessa Couchman, to tell us about her new collection of short stories, inspired by France. I’ll be reviewing this soon, but for now, it’s over to Vanessa, to tell us about the collection…

French Collection Cover LARGE EBOOKStories Inspired by France

Thank you for inviting me again to your Sunday Sojourn spot, Jen.

France remains the world’s most popular tourist destination, with a staggering 82.6 million visitors in 2016. This is well ahead of the next-most popular countries, the U.S., China, Spain and Italy. It’s hardly surprising. France boasts wonderful and varied scenery, magnificent châteaux, picturesque towns and villages, stunning art and…

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Historical Fiction History People guest posts Uncategorized

History People: Margaret Skea, writing about what you don’t know

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Margaret Skea

I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist, Margaret Skea, to the blog today. She tells us how she started writing historical fiction – and suggests that it can be a good idea to challenge the rules and write about what you don’t know. You’ll also find a riveting extract from her latest novel, Katharina: Deliverance, about the wife of the Reformation-instigator, Martin Luther.

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History People: John Jackson, inspired by his family tree

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Author John Jackson

I’m pleased to welcome to the blog today someone who moves in the most elevated circles – the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association. John Jackson is launching his first historical novel, Heart of Stone, today. He tells us how he became a writer and how his own family tree provided some colourful characters to write about. Take it away, John.

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Sunday Sojourn – Soap-making in Marseille

I’m appearing on author Jennifer C. Wilson’s blog today, talking about traditional soap-making in Marseille. This features in my recently-completed latest novel, provisionally entitled The Corsican Widow.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Happy Sunday everyone! Today, we’re visiting Marseilles with Vanessa Couchman, and learning about soap-making in Marseilles…

Vanessa Couchman

Thank you for inviting me, Jen. It’s great to be back.

As it’s Sunday, here’s a nice clean subject. We all use soap, don’t we? (At least, I hope so!). It’s the kind of product we take for granted these days. I certainly did until I decided to set part of my latest novel in a soap factory in the southern French city of Marseille.

Soap has been made for centuries and Marseille became a centre of production. The olive oil needed to make the soap was in plentiful supply. Also, the city was a major port and imported other soap ingredients and exported the finished product. In addition, Marseille’s warm but windy climate helped to solidify the soap.

By the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the Marseille area had 65 savonneries

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The story behind the story – Vanessa Couchman’s new Corsica-based novel

I’m appearing on author Katy Johnson’s blog today, giving a little peek into my current work in progress, set in Corsica (where else?).

Katys Writing Coffee Shop

IMG_4401Today I’m thrilled to see Vanessa Couchman in the coffee shop. I love stories about houses which give up their longheld secrets so The House at Zaronza which is set in Corsica was right up my street and am eagerly awaiting her next book.

Hello Vanessa, what can I get you?

Thank you so much for inviting me today, Katy. Mine’s a cappuccino, please, and I’d love a slice of that chocolate cake. Anything with chocolate in…

Coming right up. How’s the writing going? I know you’re working on a new novel. Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m a history nut, so I love historical novels, especially when they are based on a true story. History provides so much inspiration and truth is often stranger than fiction! In fact, that’s the case with my latest novel, The Corsican Widow, to which I have just put the finishing touches.

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Sunday Sojourn – Corsica

Author Jennifer C. Wilson kindly invited me to her blog to talk about a place that inspires me. No contest – it has to be Corsica, so I’m writing about the village that inspired The House at Zaronza…

Jennifer C. Wilson

Happy Sunday everyone – the last before December kicks in… Today, we’re travelling to Corsica, with Vanessa Couchman. It’s somewhere I’ve always thought of visiting, but never quite got around to, so I’m sure I’ll be tempted after this!

Vanessa CouchmanHidden Treasure in Corsica

Thank you for inviting me, Jennifer. My special place inspires me as a writer, is also special to one of my characters and is a setting for my story.

The Mediterranean island of Corsica is a place apart. The finger-like spur of Cap Corse in the north-eastern corner has a distinct feel of its own. The village of Nonza is reached by a switchback road that runs around the cape.

Nonza clings to a rocky pinnacle between the mountains and the cobalt-blue sea far below. We stayed at Casa Maria, a B&B off the village square. This typical Corsican house is foursquare and unadorned, but has superb…

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