I’m delighted to welcome author Angela Wren to the blog to talk about her latest release, Merle, her second Jacques Forêt mystery. I have her first, Messandriere, on my Kindle and I can’t wait to get to it soon!
I had plenty to ask Angela, but first, take a look at the atmospheric cover and the blurb …
Jacques Forêt, a former gendarme turned investigator, delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent, and where information is traded and used as a threat.
The Vaux organisation is losing contracts and money, and Jacques is asked to undertake an internal investigation. As he works through the complexity of all the evidence, he finds more than he bargained for, and his own life is threatened.
When a body of a woman is found, it appears to be suicide. But as the investigation takes another turn, Jacques suspects there is more to it.
Who is behind it all…and why? Will Jacques find the answer before another person ends up dead?
Merle – the second in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.
And now to find out more from Angela …
Angela, both your Jacques Forêt books are set in France. Do you have personal connections with the country?
Yes and no! I first became fascinated by France as a teenager. Since then I’ve travelled there many times and like to spend as much time on the other side of the channel as I can. As a result of all my French travels, I now know a number of people that I see over there on a regular basis. I use camp sites whilst I’m over there and camping is a very friendly pastime!
Indeed it is. We used to camp in France most summers when the children were younger and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Can you tell us something about the area you chose for the settings in your books?
The Haute Cévennes is a vast area of mountainous countryside that sits across parts of four départements (Lozère, Gard, Ardèche and Hérault) in south-central France. In the early part of the year the uplands are covered with lush pale green grass in the high pastures for the cattle. The forests are dense with the inky-green canopies of the pines, and the lighter more vibrant colours of chestnuts and other hardy deciduous trees. The landscape is jewelled with clumps of bright yellow flowers and vast grey boulders that appear to be growing out to the ground – hence the Col de la Pierre Plantée. The harsh sun of summer strips the colour from the grass and the landscape takes on a more barren look. Autumn and the colours change again to red and gold and the rain and the winds come. Winter brings the snow and the cold and a white blanket descends to cover the mountain tops. It’s kind of hard not to be inspired to write when you can watch the scenery change like that. This photo is one of my favourites from last year.
The area is sparsely populated and in the upland villages, which are often tiny, there is a silence and a sense of isolation and wildness there that I have never encountered anywhere else. Even the principle cities are confined by the geography. Mende, one of the locations in my books, sits at an elevation of around 2,000ft above sea-level and has a population of about 15,000 people and yet, its importance in France is the equivalent of Leeds or Bradford.
Take all of that, along with a fascinating history and you have, in my view, a perfect setting for a book.
It sounds and looks absolutely gorgeous – no wonder you are inspired to write, using a setting like that!
I wouldn’t know where to start with writing a murder mystery. My imagination just doesn’t work that way. How do you come up with your ideas?
From everything around me. It was waking up to snow one September morning in the Cévennes that got me thinking about using it as a cover to hide someone’s misdeeds. A chance innocent remark over tea and cakes inspired a motive and book 1, Messandrierre, began to take shape.
I’m drawing on my extensive business experience for book 2, Merle and some of the conversations and ideas have come from throw away remarks made by colleagues or actual incidents that I’ve then been able to build into something else. I find inspiration everywhere and the question ‘What if?’ often leads me down some very interesting alleyways of thought!
One interesting result of writing crime is that, when out with writing colleagues, I find myself talking about murder, a lot! And this sometimes brings some very quizzical looks from others nearby.
I can imagine it does! Did you have to do a lot of research for this latest novel?
The details of the office environment, the business processes, the general infrastructure within the building and the constitution of the management structure in my fictitious organisation are all drawn from my own personal knowledge of working in a pressured, fast-paced project management environment. I did need some help with how the office IT network could run and that took quite a bit of time to research. Luckily I know someone who works in this field, so that helped. Similarly with the scene of the fire. I had to have expert input for that.
Are you planning further books in the series?
Yes I’m already writing book 3, Montbel. I’m hoping that this story will be published late in 2018, or at least that’s the tentative target date I’ve set for myself. There is a fourth book, title still to be finalised, that completes the whole series. At the outset I only ever saw four stories. Perhaps when I get down to writing book 4 I may see others. I don’t know.
That will certainly keep you busy for a while! And finally … Where do you do your writing? And where would be your ideal writing spot if you could choose absolutely anywhere?
I have the smallest bedroom in my house as an office and as my library. It’s full of books – but then so is the rest of my house, come to think of it! – and I can barely fit the desk and computer in there! The window looks over the garden and the rest of the village beyond. It’s very quiet and, despite having worked in a very busy open-plan office, I find I need solitude and quiet in order to draft my stories.
If I could choose anywhere to write it would have to be somewhere with a stunning view, that was warm, but shady and probably somewhere in rural France.
Sounds perfect – and ideal for inspiration. Thank you for visiting, Angela. It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your books 🙂
You can buy Angela’s books at these universal links:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Angela Wren is an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK. She worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but she managed to escape, and now she writes books.
She has always loved stories and story-telling, so it seemed a natural progression, to her, to try her hand at writing, starting with short stories. her first ;published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011.
Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.
Her full-length stories are set in France, where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year. She’s currently researching and working on the follow-up to Merle.
You can find Angela at these links:
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren
Contact an author : Angela Wren