Friday, 23 February 2018

# 7 Someone to #Lean on- #Pierre from Messandriere

Friday means it's time to give those supporting secondary characters a bit of the limelight!

Today, I'm joined by a Crooked Cat author, the lovely Angela Wren, who has chosen to spotlight a really interesting character from her contemporary murder mystery novel, Messandrierre. I remember a little lad as being a novel and interesting addition but I'll let Angela tell you all about how he came to be included in the very engrossing story. And then you can read the extract that's just perfect for getting to know the character.   

I'm also enjoying the  photographs Angela has sent along to illustrate her post - I hope you do, too. Cevennes/France in snow and Cevennes/France in sunshine - a fabulous variety! 

 Welcome again, Angela... 
Col du Rieutort  - Courtesy of Angela Wren 

My first idea for my series of Jacques Forêt mysteries came to me whilst I was in France.  It was September 2007 and I’d woken up to a snow-covered landscape.  I was in the Cévennes on a favourite campsite that sits at about 1000m above sea level.  So, whilst snow isn’t normal in September, neither is it completely unusual.  Within a couple of days, I had the opening paragraph for the story and a lot of notes about my central characters, the crime, the perpetrator, the victims and I had a village full of people waiting to be written about.

I began the actual task of writing Messandrierre some time in 2011 and continued to work on it through into 2012.  By this time, I knew that I had four stories to tell and I had certain characters allocated to each one.  Pierre Mancelle was one of these characters and I had decided that he would make his first appearance in book 3.  But Pierre had other ideas.
Courtesy of Angela Wren

I was working my way through draft 4 of Messandrierre – the first book in the series – when Pierre breezed onto the page.  I deleted him and carried on and a few days later whilst reviewing and revising a later chapter, Pierre ran into the village gendarmerie and plonked himself down on the floor.  That was when I decided that he needed to have a proper role.

Let me introduce him to you.  He’s 5 years old at the very beginning of book 1.  His mum is Marie Mancelle and his father is Martin.  His grandfather is Monsieur Le Maire in the village of Messandrierre.  Marie and Martin both work in the music industry, but this is a fact that doesn’t come out in detail until book 3.

In this scene, Pierre has just had his 6th birthday when he visits Gendarme Jacques Forêt.  Jacques has been trying to determine the final whereabouts of the missing tourist, Rob Myers, and is convinced that the location might be somewhere in or close to, the village.

Hearing the office door open, he looked over the top of his computer screen as the door then closed again, apparently all by itself. Arms folded he sat back and waited. 

“Junior Gendarme Mancelle reporting for duty, sir,” said Pierre as he ducked under the counter and presented himself to Jacques. “And my maman has sent you this,” he added, carefully placing a small pâtisserie box on the desk.

“Thank you, Pierre.” He looked inside and, found a piece of birthday cake. “Happy birthday and I suppose you have lots of presents.”

LaGarde-Guerin - Courtesy of Angela Wren 
“Come and see,” said Pierre darting back under the counter and out into the sunshine. Preferring not to be disturbed at that moment, but not wishing to disappoint the child, Jacques reluctantly left the list of calls on his desk and followed. Outside, he found the youngster astride his brand new red bicycle, a wide grin on his face, and Jacques saw an opportunity.

In the road outside Beth’s chalet, Jacques checked that his assistant had everything he needed. “Chalk?”

Pierre patted the left hand pocket of his shorts.

Jacques squatted down and re-set his stopwatch that was temporarily tied to the handlebars of the new bike. “Ready stopwatch.”

Pierre nodded his confirmation.

“This time pedal as fast as you possibly can to see if you can reach the path leading up to the chateau. All right, on your marks. Get set. And…” He clicked the stopwatch on. “Go!”

Pierre set off, his legs cranking up and down like a machine, his chest held low over the handlebars and his scrawny little elbows, sticking out like ailerons, sliced through the air. Jacques sprinted up the road after him and checked his wristwatch as he rounded the bend. A few steps further on and he saw Pierre slam on the brakes and jump off his bike just beyond the Sithrez property.

“So, Junior Gendarme Mancelle,” he said as he caught up with the boy. “What have you to report?”

A little red-faced and breathless, he carefully laid his bike down on the grass verge and then pointed to a chalk mark in the road with the number 3 beside it. “That’s the best so far,” he said.

“Well done,” said Jacques. He took out his notebook and crouched so that Pierre could see what he was doing. “What we do now is we draw a little sketch,” he said as he turned to a new page. “And then we pace out the distances between the three chalk marks.” He made a few more additions to his drawing. “And now we pace,” said Jacques striding out from chalk mark three, making a note and then doing the same again from chalk mark two with Pierre beside him having to take more than twice as many steps. He handed his notebook over and let Pierre write in his own results.

With his experiment completed Jacques took the track down past the Pamier farm. “Your maman said you had to be home soon so I will come with you to thank her.”

Pierre grinned and chatted all the way back through the village to his own front door.

Pierre is a forward little guy at only five years old but so likeable. 
(ps My grandson is almost 4 now but I can see him doing something similar since he's so inquisitive, but hopefully we don't have murders in my village for him to help solve!)

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Thank you for bringing Pierre today, Angela. I'll look forward to catching up with more of your Jaques Foret murder mysteries.


#writing focus Out #blogguesting!

Well how did that happen again?  

I meant to tell you, yesterday, that I was out #blogguesting so that you could pop over there and say hello! (Feb 22nd) 

I went off to visit the lovely Isabella May's Blog where my theme was about me metaphorically putting on different hats for reading and for my writing. I'm not able to share or directly reblog here from A Wordpress blog but my post went like this...

Me and my jaunty fascinator
Wearing different hats for reading and writing.

My multicoloured reading hat…

Some authors naturally gravitate to a particular genre for their writing, often because it’s the type of novel they like to read themselves. Others, like me, who read copiously and enjoy stories across many different genres, choose to write across different genres. My favourite reading is historical and mystery so that’s why I gravitated to those genres as a new author but time will tell if that’s where my writing will stay! To date, I’ve written historical fiction and contemporary mystery for a general adult category; and time travel historical for teens.

My choice of reading genre tends to be all about mood. When reading historical fiction, I don’t expect to be entertained in the same way as I would if reading chick-lit, romance or crime—you could say that I’m wearing a particular reading hat for that genre. Sometimes I want to learn about a particular historical period and expect to do that while reading historical fiction. At other times, I love reading a really challenging mystery because I love following clues to work out what the whole plot is before the end of the mystery. Often the more demanding, the better the read becomes. If I’m tired and my concentration is lacking, then I tend to reach for the lighter reading I’m sure to find in sub genres of fiction like chick-lit; cosy whodunit; or romance: pure entertainment being my goal. I wear plenty of reading hats depending on my mood and all of the genre types can be excellent, satisfying reads so long as they’re well written.

And my different writing hats…

My most comfortable genre to write in is probably historical, my Celtic Fervour Series being set in late first century northern Britain (A.D. 71-84) It’s like a family saga in that the main protagonists are different family/clan members, though they sometimes play a lead role in one book and a secondary role in another across the four books (Book 4 to be published soon). For that genre, I’m wearing a very ancient and well crumpled hooded cloak as I strive to create believable settings in a time period that’s essentially pre-history when the Ancient Roman armies invade the Celtic/Iron Age tribes of northern Britannia. There are only a few written primary sources to use for research so grubbing around with current archaeology findings becomes hugely important for me being as accurate as possible. For my Celtic Fervour Series my metaphorical writing hood needs me to make my characters think differently from a 21st century character. It’s more difficult writing and slower to finish but I really enjoy it.

Contemporary Mystery:
As a break from heavy historical research, I wrote a contemporary mystery between the first books in my historical series. I cheated though in Monogamy Twist because what transpired was a plot that required me to create a fictitious family tree structure, the ancestral threads needing to be unravelled to solve the fairly simple mystery. I totally enjoyed creating that fictitious family and was desperate to design another more complicated one. Think of a pencil used to create a top knot rather than a hat!

In Topaz Eyes, my fictitious family originates in 1880s Amsterdam but by WWII the next generations are scattered across European and global destinations. That meant I was able to create a complicated mystery within the mystery but was also able to write about fabulous cities in Europe and the U.S. that had made a big impact on me in some way as a tourist. My planning sheets for Topaz Eyes and the creation of my family tree gave me the most immense buzz, so much my metaphorical floppy sun hat was squelched almost to pulp!

My third contemporary mystery Take Me Now is romantic comedy suspense, a very light-hearted read with easy to follow clues to solve the mystery. Another kind of writing hat was worn when creating my version of a grumpy, highland hero who is a wee bit different from the swarthy kilt-wearing usual romantic highlander of Scottish romances. Again, I was able to set scenes in fabulous places like Barcelona, Paris, Oman, and The Caribbean yet I was also able to have a Scottish island base. It was great fun to write and I got to wear a jaunty fascinator for that one.

Time Travel Historical:
The Taexali Game is intended for a good reader of c. 10 years of age and above though I’ve found that many adults are really enjoying it! My writing hat for that one was brilliant to wear—think of a metal skipped cap worn backwards looking like an ancient Roman helmet. I loved the freedom of taking contemporary teens and sending them back to a historical era that I love writing about as in Roman Scotland of A.D. 210. My three protagonists ‘speak’ and ‘think’ in what is a normal way for 21st century teens but the secondary characters from the historical era ‘speak’ in a different voice. The Taexali Game was great fun to write and when I get a breathing space the second of this series will be a Victorian adventure.  

Do you have fun wearing different reading and writing hats?
copyright- Nancy Jardine

Stay close for next post - my Friday secondary characters...


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#Review 8 of 2018 The Dissolute Rake by Francine Howarth

Those Regency Rakes are definitely a degenerate bunch, though some are entirely able to be saved from a sad and lonely end. The story heats up almost immediately, no coy hanging around for the two main characters in this Regency tale- though it’s perfectly clear from the disclaimer that it is going to be ‘steamy’.  

It’s a quick read, a mix of well known themes intermingled in this tale from Ms Howarth. Well written, the author finds a distinctive voice, the language displaying a real flavour of the era yet some of the themes also seem to be very modern.  

Finding real love, and satisfying lust, isn’t going to happen within the lovely May Thorne’s marriage but it’s amazing how quickly one man, Marcus Fairweather, can overturn all of her guilt. I’m totally glad it is Marcus who can make May stray because the lawyer, Harris, is an objectionable horror and very well portrayed as such!