Today I would like to welcome author Liza Perrat, author of four novels and a short story collection with the newest release being,Spirit of Lost Angels. So please help me in welcoming Liza Perrat to The Maiden’s Court.
What can you tell us about the idea behind Spirit of Lost Angels?
When I moved from Australia, which has such a recent past, to France, I became enchanted with Europe’s antiquity, age-old culture, monuments and beguiling tales of the past. Writing about it seemed the next logical step.
On a Sunday afternoon walk around my rural village, following the pathway of the nineteen crosses, I reached cross number fifteen –– a small, granite cross named croix à gros ventre (cross with a big belly), on the banks of the Garon River. Engraved with two entwined tibias and a heart shape, it is dated 1717, and commemorates two children who drowned in the Garon River. I was intrigued. Who were these children? How old were they? How had they drowned, and where are they buried?
From the local historical organisation, I learned the children were four and five years old, and are buried in the cemetery of a neighbouring village. I felt the urge to write the story of these lost little ones –– to give them a family, a village, an identity. The village of Lucie-sur-Vionne was thus born, the Vionne River and the Charpentier family farm –– L’Auberge des Anges (The Inn of Angels).
Spirit of Lost Angels is set in France during the time of the Revolution. What draws you to this time period?
In the late 18th century, the world was changing fast. Pre-revolutionary France was a time of great turmoil at all levels of society, as people were, finally, questioning the old regime. I wanted to explore what led the people to revolt, and how this affected the mass of the population: the peasants and the poverty-stricken. More particularly, I hoped to show how women were affected by this conflict; how they reacted, struggled and fought, and how they changed in the face of this great upheaval.
What has been the most difficult part of the writing process of this novel?
Whilst it was very interesting, I’d have to stay the research was the most difficult part of writing this novel. I came across so much conflicting information, and as it was my first foray into historical fiction, I found it hard to sift through it all, and to feel reasonably certain I had gleaned the correct historical facts.
Is this novel intended to be a standalone or part of a series?
Well, it started off as a standalone. Then the angel talisman, handed down through generations of L’Auberge des Anges, sneaked into the story, and I felt I wanted to track its journey through different eras. I was also keen to explore how the different women of L’Auberge des Anges struggled through other historical upheavals such as the Black Death and the world wars. I decided Spirit of Lost Angels would be the first in a three-part series.
What was one interesting tidbit you can tell us about something that didn’t make it into the novel?
The scandal of what was once the largest cemetery in Paris –– The Innocents Cemetery –– and its subsequent clearing.
For over eight hundred years, the dead had been buried in the mass graves of The Innocents Cemetery, until eventually so many corpses were interred in such a small area that they no longer decomposed properly. This all came to a head in 1780, when the cellar wall of a house in rue de la Lingerie gave way and hundreds of putrefying bodies tumbled into the cellar, intoxicating the inhabitants. I can only imagine the stench and the peoples’ horror! The cemetery was closed shortly afterwards, and this was something I’d have loved to include in my story, but there was no place for it. Then Andrew Miller did it far more cleverly than I ever could, in his brilliantly-written novel, Pure.
Are you currently working on anything new and if so is there anything you can tell us about it?
I completed the second novel in the series –– Wolfsangel ––a few weeks ago, which is now with my agent who is (hopefully) trying to sell it. This story follows the descendants of the Charpentier family of L’Auberge des Anges a hundred and fifty years later, as the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne comes under the heel of the Nazi occupation of WWII.
I’m currently planning the third novel in the series –– Angel of Roses –– which continues the saga of the Charpentier family and Lucie-sur-Vionne during the 14th century plague years. It explores the origin of the bone angel pendant, and how the talisman was considered both a good luck charm and a curse, at the onset of the Black Death.
Thank you kindly, Heather, for giving me this opportunity to appear on The Maiden’s Court.
Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, 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 have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.
She has completed four novels and one short-story collection –– Friends, Family and Other Strangers from Downunder –– and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.
Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical L’Auberge des Anges series, set in rural France. It was published in June, 2012 under the Triskele Books label: www.triskelebooks.com
Spirit of Lost Angels: Liza Perrat: Kindle Store
Thank you Liza for stopping by! That was a wonderful tidbit (in a terrible sort of way)!
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