11 December 2018

TuesdayTalk with the Trees. by Helen Hollick

Trees. I think most of us like trees ... to walk in a wood, along rambling, winding paths to see the sun shining through the leaves and branches, hear the wind rustling ... is a joyful, relaxing pleasure. Of course the liking for trees changes somewhat when one falls on your car or house during a storm, or delays the traffic or trains. Obviously I do not want anyone to get hurt, but it is so sad to see these majestic trees stranded, dying, roots thrusting towards the sky when they have been felled, either by natural cause or the hand (axe?) of man.

Two of my favourite scenes in novels are those with trees - when the Ents, the trees in the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy take their revenge, and the tree spirits in the Narnia Stories appear (both these were wonderfully depicted in the movies!)

Did you know that the sounds inside trees have been discovered and recorded? The sap inside the trunk as it rises and falls actually makes different noises. Call it fanciful imagination, but I wonder... are they actually talking?

"Scientists have known for many years that trees make noise, and not from just the creaking that occurs as wind pushes them back and forth. Trees also emit noise that is too high in frequency for the human ear to hear. Past research suggests that the noises trees make change if they're not getting enough water, and at least some of that noise is likely due to cavitation. Cavitation occurs when air bubbles form in the tubes (xylem) that run up and down tree trunks, preventing water from being pulled upward—in some cases it causes the tree to die. What has remained a mystery, however, is how much of the noise coming from trees during times of drought stress is due to cavitation, and how much from other sources, such as cell breakage." click here for more

Listen to the sounds that a tree makes - fascinating video

I grew up on the outskirts of the sprawling London suburbs - on one side of the Borough (Waltham Forest), nothing but houses, shops, offices, warehouses petrol stations, supermarkets, car parks... on the other, Epping Forest, which is where I kept my horses, and later, my daughter kept hers,  It was a joy to ride in the Forest, or walk the dog, have picnics - enjoy the open space. Queen Elizabeth I regularly hunted in the Forest, spending time at her hunting lodge, on the edge of Chingford. Her father spent time there as well: legend has it that he was there on the day Anne Boleyn was beheaded - he heard  the signal cannons at the Tower of London being fired. (Which is possible, it would only be a few miles away, and no modern noises to mask the sound.)  When bombs went off in London during the '80s we clearly heard the 'whoomph'  in Walthamstow. With the wind in the right direction e could occasionally hear the ceremonial salutes for the present Queen Elizabeth II.

Another legend (probably including the firing of more cannons) is that reportedly Good Queen Bess was hunting in the Forest when word came of the defeat of the Spanish Armada - she was so delighted that she rode her horse into the Lodge and straight up the oak stairs! (I wonder how on earth they got the animal down again?)

So what has all that got to do with trees?
I admit I am not very good at identifying trees. I know the obvious ones: oak, beech, silver birch, willow, horse chestnut, field maple, holly, hawthorn... but I do tend to get muddled with hornbeam, larch, alder and such. But I love trees. I love their timelessness, their solidity, their colours, shapes, sizes, sounds. The Sequoia trees in California were awesome - I really felt as if they existed in a completely different time-structure zone from us. An hour in our time is a year in theirs? Everything about those enormous old trees were so different, everything slow and sleepy, like something being played in slow motion. (And, I must add that it was very hot and dry in those Sequoia woods, Fire is a constant danger!)

Since moving to Devon my love affair with trees has expanded. The landscape is beautiful with trees, and I have MY trees - I can't explain how utterly fantastic it is to actually 'own' these beautiful, beautiful living beings! Especially the old, old oaks that are on our land and alongside the lane. In our woods we also have holly, hawthorn, alder, birch...  In the front garden there is a huge old field maple, a giant holly tree,  rowan, lilac, several firs,  and an enormous bay tree (about 20-30 feet high?) I love these trees.

one of the oaks in the lane
And I know I said 'own' - but of course we are just the custodians, the temporary guardians of the environment, and I take my role very, very seriously. The realisation that some of those old, old oaks have stood there since, probably the mid 1800s is - well, awesome! I wish I knew who had planted them.

There's a saying that for every species of mature tree in a hedgerow allow fifty years of age. That makes one of our hedgerow about 200 years old at least. The house was built in 1769... were some of those oaks planted then I wonder? Could they be that old? 

our woods in winter
To see the changing colours through the seasons - did you know there are many, many shades of yellow and green? (Forget the drab 50 shades of grey!) The light changes across the Taw Valley from one minute to the next, changing the colours of the fields and the trees as it does so. Spring, bright, fresh greens which mellow to darker shades in summer. Autumn, the yellows, reds, browns, golds - the berries, the fruits ... Winter when the trees sleep, their branches bare. The wind when a storm blows in from the south-west sounding almost like the sea as it thunders through the branches.

They do 'talk', those trees, believe me they do!

The Taw Valley
And then there are the fruit trees: our apples and pears and damsons. Apple pie, stewed pears and custard, damson jam (I made a super batch this year) and damson gin ... the snag with damson gin, you make it and have to leave it to 'mature' for at least three months,  still, only a couple of weeks to go before I can sample how the 2018 batch turned out. 

Foreground: our woods.
And, for those of you who know my books and characters, it was not by whimsy or chance that I called my pirate Jesamiah Acorne. I have an affinity with oak trees. I collect acorn objects - ornaments and such. No idea why I love the oak above all other trees (Silver Birch is a close second) but the oaks are my 'heroes'.

What is you favourite tree? Leave a comment below, I'd love to know!

7 December 2018

Novel Conversations with Helen Hollick... and a pirate!

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

to be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

Claude de la Rue
purchased © from canstock photos

Q:  Hello, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. You are a character in my Sea Witch Voyages aren't you? [looks towards the door] I was expecting Captain Jesamiah Acorne to come... Never mind... Would you like to introduce yourself to my blog visitors?
A: [Touches his hat, then removes it and places it on a spare chairBonjour madame,  'ave you any rum? I 'ave not seen these petit chocolates in a box like this before, they look tempting [takes one, nods appreciatively] I am, 'ow you say? A 'supporting role', I am Jesamiah's quartermaster, 'is second-in-command, aboard Sea Witch. It is I who usually keeps 'im out of le difficulté.

Sea Witch
Q: I perceive by your accent that you are French? Please would you tell us about the novels?
A: Oui, je suis française, The stories, they are about my friend Jesamiah and his friends, moi aussi. We are sailors and we 'ave many adventures at sea in the early 1700s

Q: Hmm [smiles] I thought you were pirates, but we'll gloss over that small fact shall we? No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: [laughs - a nice rich, mellow sound] Oh we are good pirates - we are very good pirates!

Q: Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy?
A: [Rue puffs his cheeks] Who shall I say about? Jesamiah? Captain Acorne, of course, as 'e is l'ero of the tales, or there is Miss Tiola, she knows about medicines and midwifery. She becomes 'is wife in one of the tales of our adventures, and she is the sweetest, kindest young mademoiselle I know - until I met the love of my life, Miss Pamela, but that is not until the fourth adventure, when we drop anchor in the 'arbour of Appledore in North Devon.
[Helen: thinks: of course, Rue does not know that Tiola is also a white witch, only Jesamiah knows that...]

Q: In the series, what is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: [Rue bows his head and takes a while to answer] The saddest is the day I lost my Pamela. Non, forgive me, I cannot talk of it.
[Helen refills his glass of rum and he gulps it down]

Q: Well, let's move to happier things. What is your favourite scene?
A: I 'ave several, one is when I first met Jesamiah. We were in gaol both facing the prospect of 'anging, but God was on our side - I believes you 'ave made this into a little story for your Discovering Diamonds readers' entertainment? A story inspired by a song? Non?
Helen: Oui. It is here.
Rue: A scene that still makes me laugh is one  where Jesamiah 'e was in a dark place, 'e thought 'e 'ad lost everything and spent many days drowning 'is sorrows in strong liquor. I decided to kick 'is backside and sober 'im up. [laughs] Jesamiah, 'e did not appreciate my method!

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as myself, can be helped or supported by readers or groups?
A: [frowns] Jesamiah and Miss Tiola are the readers, not I, they 'ave several books in the Great Cabin aboard Sea Witch, but I 'ave often listened to the things you say, ma'am... I think those readers who do not say an énorme merci beaucoup to you by leaving a très agréable review on this Amazon Interweb thing - well, you should make them walk the plank!
Helen: Oh, I'm not sure that would be a good idea [laughs] it is worth thinking about though!

Q: Finally, Rue, before we must bid adieu, the novels you appear in have all been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does that please you?
A: Oui, certainement, it is le grand 'onour, non? But I 'appen to know that you too are very pleased with these gold medallions? Gold treasure! 'Ave you, per'aps some pirate blood in you? [laughs]. Non, seriously, I also know that you 'ave an affection for Jesamiah - for us all, and your dream is that more and more readers will discover the stories and our adventures, because you want Jesamiah to be discovered by many, many people. I agree with you. To me 'e is like a son, even if 'e can be a prize idiot at times, especially where les dames are concerned. But 'ow to reach these new readers... would you like me to threaten a few with my cutlass? Encourage them to spread the word?

Helen: Thank you Rue, you are kind, but maybe using encouragement with a cutlass is not such a good idea? Readers telling other readers about good books to read is the best way to thank an author. Shall we toast Jesamiah with another glass of rum and wish the Sea Witch Voyages good fortune? Where is Jesamiah by the way?

Rue: Salute! It was 'is birthday the other day, 'e was born on 4th December 1693, so 'e is very old in your time [laughs heartily] though in 'is mid-twenties in ours. I think 'e imbibed too much liquor when 'e was celebrating, so 'e sent me to talk to you in 'is stead.

Helen: Oh he is often disappearing because of that reason... shall I find the scene you mentioned above about the cure for hangovers? I think the Novel Conversations visitors might enjoy it!
Buy on Amazon 

Excerpt Sea Witch (Voyage One)

Waking several hours into the fore noon to a thundering headache, Jesamiah staggered to his feet. He tottered to the door, peered out, squinting at the brightness of the morning sun. He dipped a wooden cup into the bucket beside the door, the water warm and brackish, but sufficient to slake his thirst. Not bothering to go into the bushes, directed his urine against the outside wall.
   “You would ‘ave threatened us with a flogging if we ‘ad been so lazy as to do that aboard ship,” Rue observed wryly from where he stood some yards away.
    “Well we ain’t aboard,” Jesamiah grunted adjusting his breeches. Wished the fellow would not shout so loud.
   Rue stepped forward offering a pewter tankard. “Drink this.”
   Hesitant, Jesamiah took and it wrinkled his nose at the foul looking liquid. “What is it?”
   “Old French recipe. Brandy, ground garlic with ‘alf a pint of ale. Deux œufs – fresh-laid is that cackle fruit – a pinch of gunpowder and melted pork lard.”
   Jesamiah sniffed again at the concoction, gagged at the stench. He poked a finger into it and picked out a piece of floating eggshell. “I don’t care for raw eggs.”
   “Just drink it.”
  Doubtful, Jesamiah raised it to his mouth. Changing his mind, offered it back. “Later perhaps.”
   Folding his arms, Rue ignored the tankard. “Isiah and me we are getting the Sea Witch ready to sail. You ‘ad ‘er refitted when first you came, she ‘as cannon and swivel guns, all of it wasted with ‘er sitting there in the ‘arbour. Isiah ‘as beached ‘er this morning and is already scraping ‘er keel. We ’ave got a crew volunteered as well. Très bien, good men.”
   He encouraged the tankard upwards. Jesamiah was staring at him, his expression blank. Sea Witch? To set sail?
   “Ecoute, mon gars,” Rue said finally losing patience. “Look, my friend, you ‘ave a choice. You lead us like the brilliant capitaine you are or we leave you ‘ere in this cursed-forgotten emptiness, with as many bottles of rum as you please. You can drink yourself into oblivion, with only this wind for company.”
   Jesamiah looked from Rue to the tankard. He hated the wind. Hesitant, he raised the drink to his lips. “It smells foul.”
   “‘The fouler the medicine, the quicker the cure,' or so ma mère used to say.”
   “What was she? The village poisoner?”
   “One gulp. Straight down,” Rue advised.
   Taking a deep breath Jesamiah drank, much of it trickling down his chin into his scruffy, untrimmed beard. Rue held a finger against the bottom forcing him to finish it.
   Swearing as he pulled away, Jesamiah wiped his hand over his mouth, grimacing, gave Rue the empty tankard then swallowed hard. One hand went to his belly the other to his mouth.     “You sodding…” He doubled over sinking to his hands and knees, retching and vomiting up the contents of his stomach. When nothing more was heaving from him, rolled on to his back, eyes closed, his hands covering his face. Managed to croak, “That was bloody disgusting.”
   “Cured your ‘eadache though, non?”
   Opening one eye Jesamiah glowered. “And how d’you figure that mate? It’s still thumping away as if three ‘undred crew of buccaneers are bouncing about in there, hankering after a Chase.”
   Rue offered his hand to pull him to his feet. Jesamiah accepted and stood, unsteady, the world wheeling past.
   “You will be so busy puking your guts up this next ‘alf ‘our, you will forget about your sore ‘ead.” Rue guffawed heartily at Jesamiah’s murderous expression.

Also available in Italian
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4 December 2018

Pirates. Well actually, My pirate...

My pirate? MY pirate! I do admit that I rather enjoy having my very own pirate, even if I do get a few odd looks form non-reader or writer folk. The reader or writer knows perfectly well that our fictional characters exist (albeit in our minds, imaginations or a parallel world.) There's many a time that I've been grateful for the 'feel' of my pirate standing behind my right shoulder looking formidable with his cutlass or pistol drawn. This is especially useful in 'situations' such as when a stranger or someone I particularly don't like is harassing me, or being very annoying. 

OK, so maybe they can't see Captain Jesamiah Acorne standing behind me, (or maybe they can!) but I know he's there, and that gives me the confidence to tell them to b*gger off! I usually hear Jes chuckle as they scuttle away...

Mind you, he can also be a nuisance. I can feel him now, leaning over my shoulder reading these words as I type and getting all indignant because I've just said that he can be a nuisance.
Well, sorry Jes dear, you can be ... you hang around when I'm busy then disappear when I need you to give me directions about the next scene that I'm struggling to write. You are also very very good at getting yourself into a dire situation and then leaving me to figure out a way to get you out of it. Thanks mate!

Of course, all that above either makes me very imaginative, utterly barmy or ... I really do have my own pirate guardian...

So why am I rabbiting on about 'my' pirate today? Two reasons: one is that my book Pirates: Truth and Tales is now available in paperback from Anazon.co.uk and Amazon.com - so for anyone reading this who has friends or family who enjoy anything piratical I can 100% recommend it as a Christmas present that will be well received - the book equivalent of a treasure chest!

buy from Amazon
As one reviewer has kindly said:
"Pirates: Truth and Tales by Helen Hollick is a marvellous book about Pirates. As historian and writer of many historical Pirate books Hollick knows her subject matter, and it shows.
The book starts with time tables and chapters on frequent mis-perceptions of Pirate Life, such as the romantisation of Pirates as adventurers rather than thieves and terrorists.
Hollick intersperses her chapters on all aspects of pirates with excerpts from her own novels, which illustrate her otherwise more factual writing.
From particular pirates, historical figures and events to pirate laws and habits, the author covers pretty much everything I could have thought of.
With its delightful blend of fiction and fact the book is as entertaining as it is informative.
Having attended some lectures on Pirates as part of a Literature festival and the Welsh Year of the Sea, I can commend Helen for her knowledge and as a reader I must applaud her ability of concise and engaging writing. Hugely enjoyable."

See. Ideal Christmas present.

The second reason is that 4th December (1693) is (was?) Jesamiah's birthday. And what better present can I give him than a spotlight spot here on my blog!  (There you go, he's chuckling again.)

Happy Birthday Jesamiah!
"Don't drink too much of that rum, Jes dear, it's my last bottle."
(the response was a dismissive snort.)

The facts:
Name:      Jesamiah Acorne, formerly Mereno also known as Oakwood or Oake
Born:        4th Dec 1693, on a beach in North Devon
Father:     Charles Philip Mereno (formerly, St Croix) (deceased) 
Mother:    Dona Sofia Molina Calderón de Mereno youngest daughter of the Marquis de Molina (deceased)
Half-brother: Phillipe
.....no more information ... spoilers!

Height: 5’10
Appearance: black, curly shoulder-length hair. Jawline beard, neat moustache. Lean but muscular.
Favourites: wears blue ribbons laced into his hair and a gold acorn earring in right earlobe.

Wife: Tiola Oldstagh (formerly Garrick)
Born: 1700, Cornwall
Father : Rev. Andrew Garrick  (deceased - killed by his wife, Tiola's mother)
Mother:  Elswyth Trevithick (deceased - hanged)
Brothers: Several, some living, some deceased. Her favourites, those nearest her own age, are Carter and Ben.

Character: Quick to laugh, formidable when angry. Jesmiah turned to piracy a few months before his fifteenth birthday when he fled his recently dead father's Virginia tobacco plantation after a severe altercation with his half-brother, Phillipe. The two brothers loathed each other, Phillipe because he was jealous of the younger  Jesamiah, Jesamiah hating his brother because of his bullying and abuse. (story told in When the Mermaid Sings)

Jesamiah took some revenge on Phillipe several years later when he returned to the plantation and stole a ship and cuckolding his brother by having sex with Mrs Alicia Mereno in an upstairs bedroom - Jesamiah knew her as Arabella, a former lover and whore of Port Royal, Jamaica. (story told in Sea Witch). She will never admit it, but has always loved Jesamiah. Although she has a spiteful way of not showing it!

One for the ladies, Jesamiah often finds it difficult to keep his breeches buttoned, which is a source of annoyance for Tiola. (Pronounce it Tee-ola, not Tee-oh-la).
To be fair to Jesamiah when he has gone 'astray' it is usually because he believes that Tiola has washed her hands of him... although not always.

He had a passing affair with Francesca Chesham, (story told in Pirate Code) who later bore him a stillborn son (story told in Ripples In The Sand) and the now-widowed Alicia lured him into bed in Bring It Close... both ladies getting him into deeper trouble because of their 'flirtations'.

However, Jesamiah loves Tiola deeply - he claims his straying is not his fault.
Possibly he finds these women attractive sexually because of the need to feel wanted and worthy - his childhood was one of lonely despair and fear of his brother, with both his father and mother turning a blind-eye (whether deliberate or not is unclear).

For her part Tiola, a woman of the world - a midwife, healer and White Witch, does not, usually, mind Jesamiah 'straying' when she is not around, understanding and recognising a man's 'needs'. She also understands the difference between sex within a loving relationship (their relationship,) and sex for the mere passing pleasure. She has never felt threatened or upset by his 'one-nighters'. She does, however, feel threatened by Alicia and Francesca  because they have too much of a hold over Jesamiah. (Again, sorry, no spoilers!)

Piracy, killing in order to gain loot, has never bothered Jesamiah - he claims it is a 'kill or be killed' law of survival. He is a good shot and skilled with a cutlass.

He usually puts on a confident air, but within himself he harbours doubts and worries, his 'heart's desire' is to have a long and happy life with Tiola at his side and a boat-load of their children running around. He is not sure whether he wants sons or daughters ... sons will need to learn how to fight and therefore be in danger, daughters ... well, he'll not let any young men like himself near them, that's for certain!

He is a skilled seaman, with a gift for knowing the tides, currents and winds, and for knowing how to handle a ship well. If he really had the choice the sea or the land, he would choose the sea, but probably as a rich merchant, not a pirate.

He is loyal and folllows his own code of honour. He would never ask his men to do anything that he would not do himself.  And for the record, I know how he dies because I dreamt it in vivid detail - I woke up sobbing my heart out! I have the scene written down somewhere, but will I ever share it, include it a last Sea Witch Voyage of adventure? 
I might. I might not.

And apart from all that, I adore him. I rather like having my own pirate!

Buy from Amazon
Excerpt from When The Mermaid Sings
 a prequel novella about how Jesamiah became a pirate ,..

Awarded joint
Book of the Month
This excerpt is set on 4th December 1708, Jesamiah is serving as a foremast jack aboard a merchant ship, Anna ...  and trouble appears in the form of another ship, an enemy Spaniard...

The sense of panic was as crisp as an autumn-frosted morning when Jesamiah slid, hand-over-hand, down the backstay to the deck. Anna carried two swivel guns and two six-pound cannons along with an array of muskets, an unpredictable blunderbuss, some pistols and a few other hand weapons. She was a merchant vessel, not a fighting ship. Each pound weight of armament she carried meant a pound less of cargo – and profit took precedence.
    The expression ‘running around like headless chickens’ sprang into Jesamiah’s mind as he watched the crew bustling about but not doing anything productive.
     “We’ll never outrun ’er,” one man said gloomily.
     “More chance outrunning her than anything else,” Tom Markham stated.
     “Nay, they’ll mow us down like a scythe cuttin’ corn.”
     “Might ignore us,” someone else suggested.
     “We’d be best to ’eave to an’ surrender,” old Seth muttered through toothless gums.
     “Could we not try outwitting them?” Jesamiah asked. Everyone stared at him as if he had suddenly sprouted a second head.
     The usually grim-faced Stannis laughed, although his cackle was filled with derision. “Out of the mouths of babes,” he guffawed, then swiped the back of his hand across Jesamiah’s head. “Idiot.”
     Captain Parker, however, creased his brows into a furrow and tilting his head to one side, said, “Explain, boy.”
    A faint blush tingeing his face, Jesamiah cleared his throat, and ignoring the sniggering and Stannis’ growl of disapproval, launched into his proposal, although even as he spoke he could hear the ridiculousness of the suggestion. “Why can we not pretend to be Spanish? They will not attack another of their own kind, surely?”
     The sniggers increased to outright laughter.
     “For one thing, we b’aint Spanish,” Stannis sneered. “We’ve no Spanish Colours to ’oist.”
   “How difficult would it be to make a flag?” Jesamiah replied. “All we need is a white background and some red material to fashion a jagged Cruz de San Andrés, a rough-edged red cross.”
     “You think that’ll fool ’em?” Stannis retorted. “The boy’s addle-’eaded, Cap’n. Been in the sun too long.”
    “Privateers often fool their prey with such a ruse,” Jesamiah countered, growing more confident. “Why not merchantmen if it’s a way of avoiding conflict?”
     “Maybe, lad, because we are honest merchantmen?” Captain Parker said with a half-smile.
      Indicating the conversation should be terminated, Stannis cut the air with his hand. “We be wastin’ precious time, Cap’n. We oughta be settin’ all sail an’ ’eading for the nearest safe ’arbour.”
    Captain Parker waved vaguely towards the horizon. “Which is at least four hours away, and even with more sail we will not outdistance a Spanish frigate.”
     Stannis persisted with his objections. “A tardy flag’ll fool no one. They’ll demand we ’eave to, then what?”
    “Then we tell them a plausible cock-and-bull story to set them in a different direction,” Jesamiah answered simply.
    More laughter from Bosun Stannis. “’Ow bleedin’ careless of me, I forgot me book of Spanish nautical terms!” He thrust his snarling face close to Jesamiah’s. “They’ll soon bloody work out we ain’t Spanish when they ’ear us talkin’ English.”
      It took an effort, but Jesamiah kept a straight, calm expression. “Then I suggest we speak to them in Spanish. Sir.”
     Resting his hand on Jesamiah’s shoulder, Captain Parker gave it a little squeeze and said kindly, “It was a good possible plan, lad, but alas, I speak none of their lingo.”

     Jesamiah returned the smile, said with assured boldness, “But I do.”

published by SilverWood s-books e-books
buy on Kindle

also available in Italian 

you might also enjoy 
a scene from Sea Witch, but with a slight difference

Read more about the Sea Witch Voyage
on Friday 
Novel Conversations
here on this blog

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30 November 2018

Novel Conversations With Florence Osmund and Marie Marchetti

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

Marie Marchetti

Q: Hello. I’m Helen, the host of Novel Conversations. Please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Florence Osmund’s novel The Coach House. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
A: Hello, Helen. Thank you for taking time for this interview. My name is Marie Marchetti, and I am the lead character in The Coach House. Born in 1925, I was twenty-one years old when my story first began. And for the record, my drink of choice is red wine.

Q: [Hands Marie a glass of fine Merlot] What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: My story’s genre is literary fiction. It takes place in Chicago in the 1940s and is about my life before, during, and after my marriage to Richard. We started out having the perfect life together. Or at least it seemed until I discovered his involvement with some very shady characters in suspicious activities. After I accidentally got caught up in one of his harrowing escapades, I ended up running for my life. But Richard wasn’t about to let me go so easily, and he continued to try to seduce me into his world. Long story short, it was the unexpected discovery of my real father and his heritage that changed my life more than Richard ever could.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: I may not have always made the best decisions, but I am definitely a “goodie.”

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: My husband was one of those men who could charm the pants off anyone, so I learned the hard way to always be on high alert for a hidden agenda with him. And he was a master at playing into my emotions, making matters even worse. Money was more important to Richard than anything else—including me—and unfortunately that took a while for me to figure out.

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: There is a sequel to The Coach House titled Daughters in which the story continues with my endeavor to get to know my father and his family—which was not easy for any of us, especially my father’s wife.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: I had such a difficult time with a scene in Daughters when my father went with me to South Carolina where he grew up the son of a slave. It was extremely upsetting to hear him tell his story, observe the racial prejudice that still exists there, and witness the agony on my father’s face as he re-lived painful segments of his life.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: My favorite scene was the first Christmas I spent with my new family. I don’t want to give away this moment, as it would lose much of its meaning without knowing what led up to it.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?

A: The Coach House and Daughters were my author’s first two books. Since then she has written five more novels—all literary fiction, although I believe one could also be classified as a cozy mystery.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Her current project is about two women from completely different cultures who lose their fathers at the same time. It’s the story of how their lives intertwine and the secrets they realize they have about each other’s father.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: With the right editor, indie-written books are every bit as good as those traditionally-published—the number of award-winning and best-selling indie authors increases each year. If an indie book has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion, you know it has gone through a rigorous review process and considered to be well worth the reader’s time and money. Give us a chance.

Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else he/she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: The indieBRAG organization has been a great resource for vetting and promoting quality indie books. Just keep up the good work!

Thank you Marie. It was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add anything? While she is finding something suitable, would you like more wine? And do have a chocolate or two. Salute! Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

Florence says: I am so glad you were able to meet Marie—the first main character of my own making. I have come a long way since then and share my writing experiences—successes and mistakes made along the way—on my website. So, if you’re a new or aspiring writer, please come for a visit. You’ll find writing tips, learn what self-publishing is all about, how to get started writing, book promotion ideas, and much more.

Twitter: @IndieBrag

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