Today I’ve been chatting to the lovely Marie Laval whose novel A Spell in Provence was released on the 7th January 2015 by Accent Press (click here to get your copy.) I am personally really excited about reading A Spell in Provence; it sounds romantic, enticing and it’s set in the beautiful Provençal countryside. What could be better!? Naturally I wasted no time at all in finding out where Marie gets her ideas from, quizzing her about her characters and discovering what she likes most about writing historical romance…
Of course! I write romance, both historical and contemporary. Although I now live in Lancashire, I was born and brought up in France near the beautiful town of Lyon.
Can you tell us a bit about your novel, A SPELL IN PROVENCE (released 7th January 2015 by Accent Press)?
A SPELL IN PROVENCE is my first contemporary romance. It is set near the hill-top village of Bonnieux in the Lubéron region and tells the story of Amy Carter who buys an old farmhouse, Bellefontaine, to start a new life in France. She meets Fabien Coste, the aristocratic owner of a nearby château. Soon, eerie and strange happenings hint at a dark mystery which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre.
I love the synopsis for A SPELL IN PROVENCE, it sounds like a romantic and gripping story. What inspired you to come up with this storyline?
I first got the idea for the plot during a holiday in the South of France a few years ago. When you visit Provence you soon realise the importance of fountains for local villages. An old Provençal saying even claims that ‘Water is gold’. There are fountains everywhere – some were very grand and ornate like in Aix-en-Provence, others a plain stone trough with only an old tap spurting fresh water. One fountain in particular captured my imagination. It stood on a secluded square in the small seaside town of Cassis where we had stopped for an impromptu picnic. As soon as I saw it and read its Latin inscription, I knew I had the basis of a plot.
Is your lead character Amy Carter a completely fictional character or is she based on yourself or anyone in real life? How about the handsome-sounding Fabien Coste? Is he based on anyone?
I must confess that, like all my heroines, Amy has quite a few of my personality traits. I don’t know if I can relate to a heroine who would be so different from myself I could not identify with her thoughts and feelings. As for Fabien, he is the pure product of my imagination – the typical dark, handsome and mysterious hero!
You originate from France, does that help when writing about the beautiful Provençal countryside?
I know and love the area. I have been there many times and remember vividly the landscapes and cloudless blue skies, the scents of lavender and wild thyme and rosemary, and the woody singing of the cicadas in the heat of the afternoon.
Do you miss living in France? How long have you lived in the UK for?
I have been living in Lancashire for many years and consider England to be my home now. There are times however when I really do miss being in France, especially during a very grey and rainy Lancashire summer! I also miss my family and friends, the food, especially the bread, cheese and the pastries, and my hometown of Lyon. I try to go back at least once a year and there is nothing I like more than to take a long walk in the winding narrow streets of the old town or along the river banks, then sit at the terrace of a café and watch the world go by.
Can you tell us about your other novels, Angel Heart and The Lion’s Embrace?
Both ANGEL HEART and THE LION’S EMBRAC are published by Canandian publisher MuseitUp Publishing. They are stand alone historical romances but some of the characters are related.
ANGEL HEART takes place mostly near Lyon in France in 1815, during Napoleon’s exile to Elba and is the story of Marie-Ange Norton, the widow of an English naval officer, who travels to France to claim an inheritance. With the help of cuirassier captain Hugo Saintclair, she recovers a sacred relic hidden by the Knights Templar and unravels an old family mystery and a web of political intrigue.
THE LION’S EMBRACE is the story of Harriet Montague and Lucas Saintclair – Hugo’s son – and is set in North Africa in 1845. Lucas is a former scout for the French army and is hired by Harriet Montague to rescue her archaeologist father when he is taken a prisoner in the Sahara. Harriet is soon bewitched both by the brutal, but mesmerising landscapes, and by her ruthless guide. She soon realizes that she will only be safe if she finds the ancient treasure her father was looking for and defeats a sinister criminal brotherhood.
What’s the best thing about writing historical romance?
Research! I absolutely love it. In fact I always do far too much of it but I can’t help myself.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read many different genres and authors. I love reading romance, especially historical romance, but I also read a lot of contemporary fiction and I do like a good suspense novel – Karin Slaughter, Karen Rose and Peter James are absolutely great. Barbey d’Aurevilly, Joseph Kessel and Colette are among my all time favourite French authors. I love poetry too.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I currently have a few projects at different stages of completion. My historical romance DANCING FOR THE DEVIL will be released in the Spring by Áccent Press. It is set in the far North of Scotland and the heroine, Rose Saintclair, is Lucas’ sister.
I am hoping to complete soon the first draft of a contemporary romance set in Scotland, and I am also carrying out background research for a trilogy of historical romances.
A huge thank you to Marie for participating in this interview.♥
Don’t forget to click here to get your copy of A Spell in Provence.
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.’
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.
You can find A SPELL IN PROVENCE on Amazon
You can also buy it in print at
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie studied History and Law at university there before moving to Lancashire in England where she worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher of French in schools and colleges. Writing, however, was always her passion, and she spends what little free time she has dreaming and making up stories. Her historical romances ANGEL HEART and THE LION’S EMBRACE are published by MuseItUp Publishing. A SPELL IN PROVENCE is her first contemporary romance. It is published by Áccent Press.