Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Amazon Daily Deal

Thrilled to say that 300 Days of Sun is one of the Deals of the Day on Amazon UK today! You can download to your Kindle for only 99p, and you have until midnight to do so. Please do spread the word to anyone you think might enjoy it! Click here for the deal page on Amazon.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Special Deal news

March 21st - traditionally the first day of Spring, and this year, a boost for my novel, too. The Kindle edition of 300 Days of Sun is an Amazon Daily Deal in the UK for one day only at a great price drop. You can check the Amazon page on the day for the deal, but it's a fantastic chance to pick up a bargain for your e-reader. 
This novel was selected as one of the Great Group Reads for National Reading Group Month in the USA last October, and has done well in Portuguese translation, too.

I've had some lovely reviews on Goodreads recently, so if you hop over there you can get a feel for the book. Here are some of my favourite ones:
"More of a mystery than I was anticipating but not in a bad way! Captivating at times with good plot twist."
"The writing itself is wonderful, the descriptions of Portugal are absolutely mind blowing, more than once I looked online to see just how close to reality they were and was not disappointed, the reader really is transported to Portugal whilst reading this, sadly once you close the book you are back at home.
  The characters were interesting and well developed, their predicaments compelling and really captured my attention. An impressive historical fiction novel with mystery, suspense, romance and wonderfully descriptive settings."

"I wish more fiction readers knew about Deborah Lawrenson, she really is a great novelist. Her books always have great detail of place and time, revealing the amount of research Lawrenson must do. I enjoyed this one for various reasons: a unique locale (Portugal), a believable &relatable narrator, WWII historical fiction backstory woven into contemporary tale, true crime suspense, and an interesting ending. Jo's story and Alva's story were both so compelling, I didn't want to put the book down!"
If you are intrigued about 300 Days of Sun and can't wait for March 21st, you can find it wherever you are via this Amazon link.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Historical fiction anthology

Where do works of historical fiction find their starting points? How are those seeds refined into story? What are the gifts and challenges of using the past as source, and how can both be most inventively addressed? Where does historical accuracy end and fictional power begin? How do authors today make a given moment in history compelling to contemporary readers?

These are the questions posed by Stories of Inspiration: Historical Fiction Edition edited by publishing industry veteran Suzanne Fox, and I was delighted to contribute an essay.

Fox has collecting insights from both established authors and new voices and charts the often surprising journey from an original point of departure to a finished work of historical fiction, spanning the genres from literary fiction to mystery, romance, and more.

Stories of Inspiration is available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA and other good booksellers.

Friday, 27 January 2017

On the radio

Heads up: I'm on London's Resonance FM radio tomorrow at 2.30-3.30pm, speaking with Jude Cowan Montague about her new novel for readers of all ages, Young Hitch: Forbidden Flames. It's a great read, introducing the famous film director as a mischievous eleven-year-old boy in his native East London.
Young Alf Hitchcock lives in a world of his own in the bustling streets of Limehouse where his family runs a fishmongery and fried fish business. He smells of smoked haddock and is bullied for it, his father treats him as a nuisance, and the boy loves to escape into the new-fangled picture palace that stokes his already over-active imagination. So when he stumbles into a real-life story of life and death, what will he do?
Writer, poet and film archivist Jude is the resident host of The News Agents show, but this time I'm delighted that she invited me to ask the questions. We'll discuss the inspiration for the book on the streets of East London and the early days of newsreel, the background to the Sidney Street siege in 1911, Hitchcock's life and work, and the nuts and bolts of writing bio-fiction, trying to unpick and understand an established character.
Jude's own blog has some atmospheric and informative background posts: Young Hitch, Geek, Misfit and Anti-hero.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Lavender - off the beaten track

When the lavender is harvested in Provence at the end of July, a heavenly scent is carried on warm evening breezes. Alerted by the first wafts of perfumed air, from our terrace we can sometimes see the smoke rising from the other side of a small ridge. The distillation has begun.
In the small purple fields woven into the landscape of the hills around the town of Apt in the Luberon, the stills are sometimes placed in the very fields where the flowers have been grown. In this part of Provence lavender farming is a far cry from the huge commercial concerns of Sault and Valensole, more like smallholdings tended in the traditional way.
If you would like to read more, please hop over to the web magazine Perfectly Provence, where I've written a guest post. For those of you who love the South of France, and haven't discovered this site yet, you are in for a treat!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The sound of gunfire, Lisbon 1940

Come inside...a short glimpse inside 300 Days of Sun. I always enjoy reading and researching into a fascinating subject, and with this novel I loved writing the sections of the novel set in wartime Lisbon. Here's one of the early scene-setters, viewed through the eyes of Alva Barton, wife of an American newspaperman. The Bartons have left Rome, then Paris as the German army of occupation swept into France in 1940. After a nerve-jangling journey south, they have arrived in Portugal's capital city, along with many other refugees desperate to escape Europe.
The attic room at the Hotel Métropole was stuffy and a long way from the bathroom. But the Bartons were used to being thrown back on their own resources. Wasn’t that how they had ended up here? They were still the people they were before they lay on these hard twin beds, getting up each morning to eat salty toasted cheese sandwiches for breakfast and lobsters and langoustines for lunch, considered not extravagant but very standard local fare. Scrupulous cleanliness was the norm and they were treated with warmth and cordiality by the Portuguese at the hotel, in the cafés, in the shops.

Like Rome, Lisbon was a city on seven hills. After it was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755, the architecture that rose from the ruins was bold and uniform in style, the best the eighteenth century could offer. Set back from the Tagus waterfront behind a wide square with a horseman statue was a triumphal arch with colonnaded building forming wings to either side, reminiscent of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. In its way, the city was as self-confident and beguiling as Paris. It even had its Champs Elysée: the magnificent tree-lined Avenida de la Liberdade.
On display in the stores of the Rua Augusta was an abundance of goods and food, much of it imported: McVitie’s biscuits from England, Haig whisky from Scotland, German stollen cakes made with marzipan. Newspapers with all the familiar titles, the Daily Mail from London, the Herald and France Soir from Paris, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, squashed together into the racks in similar proportion to the displaced persons in the cafés. The British Embassy was next to the building that housed the German Legation, which left the Union Jack fluttering with authority only a few hundred yards from the Nazi swastika.
At night, Lisbon possessed a rare beauty. Light danced from shops and houses; churches and palaces were floodlit like stage sets. The streets were full with a sense of happiness until three in the morning. The clubs oozed American dance music. It was all too possible to mistake it for a safe haven, a place of excitement and adventure. When they heard gunfire as they walked through a side street, on the second night, they cowered against a wall but no advance troops appeared. The next day they were told that what they had most likely heard was the beating of carpets. A local law forbade the practice between the hours of nine a.m. and midnight, so those householders who abhorred early rising beat their carpets in the party hours.
300 Days of Sun is available through all good bookshops and on Amazon - link here.

From HarperCollins US catalog: "Deborah Lawrenson’s mesmerizing novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.

Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But beneath the crumbling façade of Moorish buildings, Joanna soon realizes, Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically insists she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro -- where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger."


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

November in Provence

November in Provence has been glorious. Each day the hillsides have been turning a deeper gold, and the bright sunlight brings everything into sharp relief. The lavender fields (above) show ribs of muted grey-green. Apricot and cherry trees have turned a flaming red like orchards of lit torches, and our unpicked muscat grapes are purple against glowing yellow leaves on the trellis that gave shade to our summer dining table.
Been having a lovely time seeing friends and relaxing, and wandering around the Luberon hill villages after a busy time in England during September and October. It's all much quieter than when we were last here. The restaurants have autumn menus - we had a special Game and Wild Mushroom one at a local auberge the other night, featuring tiny tasters of delicious pumpkin soup and wild boar, chanterelles with truffle and seared scallop, venison, a rather experimental black truffle and vanilla ice-cream (not sure about that one) followed by a chocolate bombe.
One a cloudless day there's often warmth, too. Here is a glimpse of the castle at Gordes,, and now is the time, without all the tourist crowds, to wander round this spectacularly beautiful village with its panoramic views. Here I am, on a slightly colder day, in Goult.

It was mellower, and slightly misty that day, and the view from the top by the old windmill was softer and more green than in other higher parts of the valley.
Finally - wishing Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers in the USA!  

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