Today I have an interview to share with author Angela Wren. Montbel is the third in her detective series set in France and featuring Jacques Forêt. Here’s the story:
A clear-cut case?
A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.
When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.
Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?
Thanks for joining me, Angela. First up, why did you write this story?
Montbel is the third story in my Jacques Forêt series of cosy crime novels set in south-central France. When I planned the series I knew at the outset what the crime would be and what challenges my central characters would have to face. So, way back in 2007/08 I knew I was going to write this story no matter what. However, what I didn’t know, until I started my detailed planning for the novel, was that an incident, which occurred when I was in France 10 years ago, would pop into my head and inspire me to create one of the supporting characters. That decision meant I then needed to do some research because the central theme of the book would reach much further back in time than I first envisaged.
Talk about a favourite scene or character in your novel.
As much as I love writing my central character, Jacques Forêt, he isn’t my favourite character. Little Pierre Mancelle is – just don’t tell Jacques! At the outset, with my 4-book timeline all done I had thought that I wouldn’t need Pierre until book 3. I did my detailed planning for the book 1 – Messandrierre – and he still didn’t feature. But as I was writing the first book Pierre kept running onto the page. And when I edited him out of one scene he just popped up in a later scene. Eventually, I went back to my timeline and gave him a proper role in all four books.
My favourite scene in Montbel for Pierre is in the chapter entitled ‘thursday, june 16th‘. He’s with his parents at an event in Mende and he has something on his mind. This particular scene came into my head almost fully formed as I was writing it and it remained pretty much as it was from first draft, other than bits and pieces of tweaking for the wording as I was editing.
It’s a favourite scene because it shows Pierre in a different light. He’s recently changed schools and that hasn’t been easy for him. His family is on the brink of a massive change and he doesn’t quite know how to handle that. When Jacques notices his mood and tries to engage him in conversation, Pierre does what all kids do. He skirts around the problem, then drops out the killer question and then moves onto something completely different, leaving Jacques nonplussed. The scene, I hope, provides a little light relief from the building tension surrounding Jacques’ murder investigation, which is the central plot.
Describe your process in writing this book. (e.g. did you outline? Did you choose one pov and stick to it? What did you add? How many drafts did you write? How long did it take?
I’m quite scientific in some respects. I had my timeline for all four books and to supplement that I drew up a chapter/scene plan for Montbel. I use a spreadsheet to do this and on there I note down, characters involved, point of view, location and questions I want to be raised in a reader’s mind for each scene. At the completion of this I usually have all the key scenes for the principle plotline. Then I make some notes about the sub-plots and they usually remain in that form. Then I think on it for a bit and then, having got my opening paragraph clear in my head I start writing. I kind of keep on going after that as I write through my characters.
Every so often I stop and go back and crosscheck where I am with my plan. Sometimes my characters take me off plan and then I need to decide whether I will stick with that or not. If I need to edit at that point then I will before I continue writing.
Overall I think Montbel took me about 9 months to write. Unfortunately I’m not able to write full-time as I work in a theatre, so my writing has to be scheduled in whenever I have a spare morning, afternoon or evening. But I am getting very good at sticking to my scheduled writing time each week.
Can you share some book love? Please recommend at least one but no more than three novels you have read and loved.
Wow, that’s a really tough question, there are so many that I could tell you about. OK, I think I will choose The Lost Girl by D H Lawrence, Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy and By Gaslight by Steven Price. The first two I’ve read and re-read several times. The third one I read whilst in France recently and I know I will read it again – the narrative voice was so captivating.
Is there a work of non-fiction that you would like to share?
Edith Eger’s The Choice. A moving and thought-provoking memoir written in stunningly beautiful prose. Another book that I know I will read again.
What is the best piece of advice you have for other writers?
Never give up.
THIS IS MY FAVOURITE ANSWER!!! SO TRUE!
Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.
Find out about, follow Angela and buy her books here:
Amazon : AngelaWren
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
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