Wednesday, 22 March 2017

#Australia-based #psychological suspense novel #promo

For a week beginning this Friday, 24th March, The Silent Kookaburra, my psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, will be on promotion for only 99c/p on a Kindle Countdown Deal.

 Extract from The Silent Kookaburra, Chapter 2...

We left Wollongong around five o’clock, Dad driving the Holden to the Royal National Park, which was halfway up to Sydney.

While my father wrangled with the tent pegs, amidst foraging currawongs and crimson rosellas, Mum and I kindled up a campfire and roasted the snags.

‘Look at him.’ I pointed to a large flat rock. Behind it, a shy wallaby peeked out at us, rubbing its forepaws together as if clapping at our show.

‘Aw, what a sweetie,’ Mum said, handing me a sausage sandwich smothered in tomato sauce.

A magpie swooped over us, clacking her bill. ‘Quardle, oodle, ardle, wardle, doodle.’

‘Defending her nest,’ Mum said as we toasted the marshmallows.

Dad smiled, gave her leg a pat. ‘Like all good mothers.’

And in the falling darkness of the coastal breeze we followed the scents of the night creatures: long-nosed bandicoots, brush-tailed possums, sugar gliders and many others whose names I didn’t know.

The shriek of a sulphur-crested cockatoo woke me on the Saturday morning. I struggled from my sleeping bag, stepped outside the tent, walked towards the smouldering campfire and almost trod on a snake. Its slimy scales gleamed in the pearly dawn light.

I almost peed myself, but held it in, not daring to cross my legs; afraid to budge an inch. A blob of sweat dribbled into my eye.

Australia's majestic Kookaburra
‘Dad, quick, snake!’

My father lurched from the tent as the black snake reared up, its thick underbelly a streak of fire. Head pointed, forked tongue out, it fixed one dark eye on me and hissed.

My throat seized up, crazy moths flapped about in my heart. I wanted to run, to scarper from the snake as fast as I could, but Dad was holding up a warning hand.

‘No quick movements, Tanya. Just wait, it’ll slither away if you don’t scare it.’

Tears pricked at my eyes. ‘No, no, it’s going to bite me … to kill me. Get rid of it, Dad!’

Mum clutched Dad’s arm, a hand flying to her cowlick. ‘Do something, Dobson … just stay very still, Tanya.’

My schoolteacher’s voice clanged through my mind. Blackies can be dangerous … can hurt you badly but they likely won’t kill you.

The red-bellied black snake sure looked deadly to me. My bladder was about to burst; my legs wobbled –– jelly left out of the fridge in a heatwave.

Go snake. Just please go away, please.

Buy The Silent Kookaburra.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

#FrenchResistance During #WW2

The French Resistance was a movement that fought against the Nazi Occupation of France during WW2, and against the collaborationist Vichy régime. Armed men and woman (called the Maquis in rural areas such as portrayed in my novel, Wolfsangel) formed Resistance cells who carried out guerrilla warfare activities, published underground newspapers, gained intelligence information, and helped Allied soldiers escape from behind enemy lines.

Fake ID cards for Resistance fighters

Taking a break from the battle
 On this day, 15th March, in 1944, the Conseil National de la Resistance published a charter demanding that social and economic reforms be implemented after France’s liberation, such as universal suffrage and the equality of all citizens.

For Wolfsangel, the second (standalone) novel in my French historical trilogy: The Bone Angel, I was fortunate enough to speak with several French Resistance fighters still living in the area in which the novel is set, in a rural village just west of Lyon.

Extract from Wolfsangel, Chapter 2...

The helmets of the German soldiers perched atop the train gleamed in the moonlight. I stared at them with hatred, those sinister sentries cradling their guns, their eyes peeling the countryside for danger, and saboteurs.

I kneaded my angel talisman harder.

Dd-dd-dd-dd. Faster, it seemed, and deafening, as the train was almost upon us.

‘Go!’ Olivier shrieked. ‘Now! Get down!’

André hit the button and any further sounds were lost as the train exploded in a golden shatter of fireworks. Bursts of sparks fanned into the navy sky, metal shrieking as if it were in agony.

Our hands clamped over our ears, we cowered from shards of flying metal. The Germans were shrieking –– one continual, torturous wail –– their helmets and uniforms flaming torches as they tried to flee the burning wreckage.

The locomotive screamed like a shot horse and groaned as the whole train lurched sideways, cavorted off the rails and crashed into the ravine on the opposite side of the track.

‘Let’s move it,’ Patrick said.

The moonlight lit their smiling faces as they hurtled back along the woodland path to the bicycles.

I breathed out, long and slow. Another success for
la Résistance.

Buy the Ebook of Wolfsangel for only £2.99/$2.99/Euros 2.99 at all Amazon stores.

If you happen to visit Lyon sometime, don’t miss the Museum of the Resistance

And if you are ever near Limoges, I would highly recommend a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, on which the war-crime tragedy of Wolfsangel is based.

Main street of Oradour-sur-Glane
Church of Oradour-sur-Glane

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Friday, 24 February 2017

Free Reads For Smart Women

For this weekend only, starting right now, twelve authors (including myself) are offering smart readers a dozen opportunities.

Travel the world
Fall in love
Tell stories
Go back in time
Battle against evil
Fight for survival
Lose it all and start again.

Absolutely FREE! Just click for your choice of reading matter: Free Reads for Smart Women.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Best #jacuzzi in the #French Alps! @chaletsangliers

Over the New Year holiday, my husband and I had a welcome break at a fabulous new chalet in the French Alps, newly-renovated by a young and dynamic couple from the UK, Kat and Stuart Pagram.

 If you're looking for an affordable, yet luxurious getaway for skiing in winter, or hiking our mountain biking in summer, Chalet des Sangliers is the perfect place. Read my article about Chalet des Sangliers in The Good Life France magazine, here.

Amazing Alpine hot tub to soothe those aching ski muscles!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

#Granville - The Trauma of #Australia's Worst Rail Disaster

Yesterday, 18th January, 2017 marked the 40-year anniversary of the rail disaster that occured at Granville, a western suburb of Sydney, Australia. A crowded commuter train derailed, and ran into the supports of a road bridge, which then collapsed onto two of the train's passenger carriages. 84 people died, over 210 were injured. One of my childhood friends lost her uncle in this disaster, and her memorial piece to her Uncle John ("Boy"), is both a heartbreaking memorial and a deep insight into the far-reaching effects of such a disaster. Read Christine's piece here and a photo of her (R) in front of the Granville memorial.

Monday, 19 December 2016

#Aussie-based #psychological suspense novel

After several years writing French historical fiction, I've tried my hand at a psychological crime novel. Set in Australia in the 1970s, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Priced at only 99c/p on Amazon until Christmas!

Paperback to be released in January.

Extract: The Silent Kookaburra...

Knuckles blanch, distend as my hand curves around the yellowed newspaper pages and my gaze hooks onto the headlines.

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY. January 26th, 1973. 165-year anniversary of convict ships arriving in Sydney.

Happy? What a cruel joke for that summer. The bleakest, most grievous, of my life.

I can’t believe my grandmother kept such a reminder of the tragedy which flayed the core of our lives; of that harrowing time my cursed memory refuses to entirely banish.

Shaky hands disturb dust motes, billowing as I place the heat-brittled newspaper back into Nanna Purvis’s box.

I try not to look at the headline but my gaze keeps flickering back, bold letters more callous as I remember all I’d yearned for back then, at eleven years old, was the simplest of things: a happy family. How elusive that happiness had proved.

I won’t think about it anymore. I mustn’t, can’t! But as much as I wrench away my mind, it strains back to my childhood.

Of course fragments of those years have always been clear, though much of my past is an uncharted desert –– vast, arid, untamed.

Psychology studies taught me this is how the memory magician works: vivid recall of unimportant details while the consequential parts –– those protective breaches of conscious recollection –– are mined with filmy chasms.

I swipe the sweat from my brow, push the window further open.

Outside, the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean is still a pale glow but already it has baked the ground a crusty brown. Shelley’s gum tree is alive with cackling kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets shrieking and swinging like crazy acrobats, eucalyptus leaves twisted edge-on to avoid the withering rays.

But back in my childhood bedroom, behind Gumtree Cottage’s convict-built walls, the air is even hotter, and foetid with weeks of closure following my parents’ deaths.

Disheartened by the stack of cardboard boxes still to sift through, uneasy about what other memories their contents might unearth, I rest back on a jumble of moth-frayed cushions.

I close my eyes to try and escape the torment, but there is no reprieve. And, along with my grandmother’s newspaper clipping, I swear I hear, in the rise and dump of its swell, the sea pulling me back to that blistering summer of over forty years ago.

To celebrate the release of The Silent Kookaburra, the first novel in French historical The Bone Angel trilogy - Spirit of Lost Angels - is also on sale for only 99c/p until Christmas at all e-retailers: