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.

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.
Pierre - Courtesy of Angela Wren

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.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for inviting me, Nancy and I hope your regular readers enjoy meeting Pierre. Oh, and don't tell Jacques, but Pierre is my favourite character!


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