Today I’m delighted to welcome Liza Perrat to the blog.
Originally from Australia where she worked as a general nurse and midwife, Liza met her French husband on a bus in Bangkok and has since lived in France for the last twenty years working part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition are published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.
Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in her French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel Series. The second – Wolfsangel – was published in October, 2013, and the third, Blood Rose Angel, was published in November, 2015.
The Silent Kookaburra, a psychological suspense story set in 1970s Australia, was published in November 2016.
Please tell us about your historical trilogy, The Bone Angel series. What inspired you to write this series? How would you describe your fiction?
The Bone Angel trilogy includes three standalone stories exploring the tragedies and triumphs of a French village family of midwife-healers during the French Revolution (Spirit of Lost Angels), WW2 Nazi-occupied France (Wolfsangel) and the 1348 Black Plague (Blood Rose Angel).
I’ve always been amazed and intrigued by history. I live in a rural French village and on a Sunday walk along the riverbank I came across a small stone cross (croix à gros ventre, or cross with the big belly) commemorating the drowning of two peasant children in the 18th century.
I wanted to know more about them; to give them names, a family, a village. An identity. The children had died in the years leading up to the French Revolution, so that seemed the most obvious setting: the peasants versus the aristocracy––on the small-scale of my story, paralleled with the larger, real-life scale. This was the inspiration for the first in the series, Spirit of Lost Angels.
Once this book was finished, I realised there were more stories to tell about the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne and the farmhouse (L’Auberge des Anges). So I wrote two more books, set in different historical eras.
For the second in the series, Wolfsangel, a visit to the town of Oradour-sur-Glane, and learning of the tragic WW2 crime that occurred there, inspired me to set that book during the Nazi occupation of WW2, featuring the descendants of the family of Spirit of Lost Angels.
I’d used dramatic historical events for the settings of these books and by the time I reached the third novel, I’d become intrigued by the medieval period. So the bubonic plague seemed a logical choice for the setting of Blood Rose Angel: one woman fighting against the village, symbolising the people of the world battling against the greater enemy of Black Death.
You live in France, but your most recent novel, The Silent Kookaburra, is set in your native Australia. How big a part does location play in your novels?
As part of the Author Collective, Triskele Books, and our Time and Place motto, location plays a large part in my novels. I like to bring every sense into play, so that the reader feels transported to a different time and place.
What does your creative process look like? I imagine research plays a large part?
Yes research certainly plays a large part, especially for the historical trilogy. I usually spend a long time beforehand, anything from 6 months – 1 year, reading factual books about the period, as well as fictional books.
I watch films, search the internet and public archives. Then I begin writing once I have enough material to start off, and, of course, a storyline! Though that almost always changes once I start writing. I do more research as needed, whilst writing the story.
I look upon the actual writing process as like building a house: hard labour throughout the heavy work of first draft foundations. Then building up the walls to get the whole structure in shape. Once that’s done, removing all the debris (cutting and editing). Finally, furnishing and decorating it, basically playing around with every word, sentence and paragraph to make it sound and look “nice”.
Who are your favourite authors and which other writers have most influenced you?
I love many authors, but my top five right now would be Wally Lamb, Maggie O’Farrell, Patrick Gale, Sarah Waters and Anne Tyler. Very early influences were Enid Blyton, then the crime queens such as Val McDermid, Minette Walters, Nicci French and Ruth Rendell.
You are a co-founder of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective. What are the aims of Triskele Books?
Formed in 2011, Triskele Books is a writers’ collective –– five authors working together to produce books of the highest possible publishing standard. The spirals of our triskele logo represent the concept of our collective: authorial independence balanced by mutual support. Going it alone, together. Our connection: setting and atmosphere, culture and legend, history and landscape all combining to create a rich and satisfying reading experience that is Triskele Books. We want to take you on a journey. We want to transport you to another place. We want to tell you a story.
What are you working on at the moment? Do you plan to publish anything in 2017?
Right now I’m only doing minimal work as I’m going through some gruelling treatment for breast cancer. Just managing a bit of promotion for my latest novel, The Silent Kookaburra, a psychological suspense story set in 1970s Australia. My brain is too foggy from the chemotherapy to come up with anything creative, but I’m hoping to write a sequel to the Aussie novel next year, once my treatment is finished.
What are your top tips for aspiring authors and would you recommend the indie route?
Learning the craft of writing is the most important thing for an aspiring author. Then learn the business of writing. I think that question – indie or traditional publishing –– is too personal for me to make a recommendation. Each author needs to look at all the options available now and choose what they think is right for them. At the end of the day, I don’t think readers care how a book is published, they just want a great story!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? Only joking! I’m an avid reader, no surprises there. I also enjoy hiking, tennis, swimming, binge-watching a good TV series over winter, whilst devouring large amounts of chocolate and drinking good French wine.
Thank you Liza – that was great!
Find Liza On-line
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