Monday, May 11, 2015

Marie Laval, A Spell in Provence

AUTHOR: Marie Laval
BOOK TITLE: A Spell in Provence
GENRE: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
PUBLISHER: Áccent Press

Please tell us about yourself.
I was born and brought up in France, near the beautiful town of Lyon, and came to live in the North-West of England several years ago. I now live in a lovely village in a very green valley (because it rains a lot) and I love it! 

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I would love to be a full-time writer, but I have a day job as a French teacher in a busy secondary school and college, so writing has to wait until I come home at night and complete all my planning and marking, and until the children are in bed, of course.

When and why did you begin writing?
For as long as I can remember I was always writing and making up stories. As a teenager I used to write every night in my journal. Later I wrote short stories, both in French and English but I lacked confidence. When one of my stories was published, another won an award and yet another was short-listed for an international competition, I thought that maybe I could actually write a whole novel in English!

What inspired you to write your first book?
ANGEL HEART was my first historical romance and it will always have a special place in my heart. Believe it or not, I am still completely in love with my hero Hugo Saintclair! ANGEL HEART was published by MuseitUp Publishing in October 2012. I was inspired by my hometown and the area around Lyon, which was always reputed for its mysteries and links to secret societies. I was also fascinated by the history of the Knight Templars.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Although I have made wonderful friends thanks to social media and I do enjoy chatting and exchanging news with my Facebook friends, I do find that promoting takes far too much of my time. I would love to have an agent who would advise me on promotion, and what actually works.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I have writer's block a few times but I know it's entirely my fault, because I am what is called a 'pantser' and always get stuck at some point in a project because I basically have not idea where I'm going! I usually try to leave the story 'rest' for a little so that things can work out without me consciously thinking about them. I find that going for a long walk, alone, works wonders.

What are your current projects?
I am shortly to start editing my third historical romance, DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, which will be released in June by Áccent Press, and I am in the final stages of writing another contemporary romance. I have lots of projects swirling in my mind and can't wait to get started on them!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I have a writer page on Facebook which is
I also have a blog and I do try and post regularly at
I am also on Twitter but I must confess that I very rarely do anything on it!

What genre do you write in and why?
I love romance, so that's what I write. I have so far written and published two historical romances and one contemporary romantic suspense. I also enjoy writing short stories and my latest one was part of a Hallowe'en anthology, SHIVER, which was published by Áccent Press in October 2014.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
A SPELL IN PROVENCE takes place in the Lubéron region, near Bonnieux and Aix-en-Provence. The heroine, Amy Carter has lost her job and decides to start a new life in the South of France. She spends her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a guesthouse, but almost from the day she arrives, strange things happen which hint at a dark mystery surrounding her new home. When she falls in love with Fabien Coste, the owner of a nearby château, she starts wondering if there is any truth in the ancient spell that binds the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
It was a family holiday in the South of France a few years ago. We visited many towns and villages with very old fountains, and I started thinking of a plot with a 'fountain trail' leading to a treasure or an ancient site...

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I scribble lots of ideas and notes in a notebook so I can have a vague idea of where I am going. However the storyline and characters change and evolve as I write and I am often very surprised by what happens in my stories!

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
I did lots of research about the Salyens, the native Celtic tribes who lived in Provence before the Romans and who had very important settlements in Glanum, for example. Reading about the archeological evidence from their various sites was fascinating and helped me shape the story.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Keep writing, don't give up no matter what people tell you, and how many rejection letters you receive. It's your dream. It's worth it.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Determined. Hardworking. Kind (I hope!). Honest. Loyal. Loving. Gourmande (that's French for someone who likes cakes and chocolate!)

Describe your writing space. 
A complete mess! I would love to have my own space with an inspiring view but I write on my dining room table, surrounded by my books and notebooks, and my daughter's craft and art material.

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author? 
I haven't had any yet, but that might change very soon because I am doing my very first author talk at  my local library in April and I have visions of myself in a completely empty room...

With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.


Shivering in the cold breeze despite her shawl, Amy joined the guests lining up to be greeted by Fabien, who in true lord of the manor style, stood tall and imposing at the top of the steps, with torches burning on either side of him.
            He might wear a black dining suit and a crisp white shirt instead of a suit of armour, but there was something untamed, fundamentally uncivilized and proprietary about the way he surveyed the crowd – as if he truly owned everything and everyone, like Frédéric had said, and Amy was seized by an irresistible, irrational and overwhelming urge to flee. She didn’t want to speak to Fabien Coste, didn’t want to put up with his arrogant ways. He could keep his fancy chateau, his contacts and glamorous guests, she didn’t need him. She would walk home. It wasn’t that far.
            She was about to step aside when he looked down and their gaze met. Shadows danced on his face. The torches hissed in the breeze, their flames shooting high in the air and reflecting in his green eyes, giving them a deep, dangerous glow. For the space of a heartbeat, the noise of conversations around her became distant and fuzzy, and all she could see was him.
            He walked down, took her hand and lifted it to his lips. Even though his mouth barely touched her skin, a flash of heat reverberated through her body.
            ‘Mademoiselle Carter – Amy, you’re here at last.’
            It was the first time he’d spoken her first name. He made it sound French, sensual and incredibly romantic. Aimée. Beloved.
            ‘Shall I escort you inside and introduce you to a few people?’
            Panic made her heart flutter and turned her brain to mush.
            ‘Well, it’s just that …’
            He arched a dark eyebrow, looked down, and smiled as if he knew exactly what she was feeling.
            ‘You’re here now. You might as well make the most of it.’


  1. I am delighted to be on your blog today, Penny! Thank you very much for your kind welcome.

  2. Interesting interview! I enjoyed reading A Spell in Provence - it has a great combination of mystery, suspense and romance.

    1. Thank you very much for visiting, Helen, and for your kind comment.