This has been a great summer for reading! Many of my friends are authors and I have been lucky enough to be sent copies of their books and manuscripts. I loved J.J. Marsh’s novel ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and am delighted to interview her colleague at Triskele Books. Liza Perrat, the author of ‘Spirit of Lost Angels,’ tells us what it is like to go from a midwife in Australia to an author in France. I hope that you will enjoy the interview!
What brought you to France?
My husband. Back in 1988 I left my job as a midwife in a busy Sydney hospital to take up a one-year midwifery position in Saudi Arabia. My first stopover was Bangkok, where I met a funny boy from France. After a month together in Thailand, he invited me to go to France, and I told him I’d think about it over my next three months trekking in Nepal. I arrived in Paris on a cold and gloomy winter morning and I never did get to Saudi Arabia.
What keeps you here?
Finances mainly. We’d love to move back to Australia but I finally have the perfect part-time job as a medical translator, which gives me lots of time to write. And at 51 years old, I don’t think my husband would find a decent job in Australia. We’re looking forward to retiring there though, in a cottage on the beach, with lots of cats and a dog.
Will you tell us a little about your novel?
One Sunday I was out walking in my rural village, and came across a small stone cross on the banks of the Garon River, named ‘croix à gros ventre'(cross with a big belly). Engraved with two entwined tibias and a heart shape, it was dated 1717, and commemorates two children who drowned in the river. I was intrigued. Who were these children? How old were they? How had they drowned, and where are they buried? I hiked up to the local historical organisation and 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 born, the Vionne River and the family farm –– ‘L’Auberge des Anges’ (The Inn of Angels). And thus began my foray into historical fiction –– a series encompassing different generations of ‘L’Auberge des Anges,’ of which ‘Spirit of Lost Angels’ is the first, recently published under the Triskele Books label –– an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place.
Did your work as a midwife help you in your writing?
Yes, midwifery and general nursing are great eye-openers to the real world: seeing people at their best and worst. Also, living in different countries, learning a new language, and most of all, keeping the ears and mind open, helps with writing.
What books are on your nightstand?
There isn’t enough space here! I’m currently in the middle of: ‘Fall of Giants,’ ‘Needle in the Blood’ and ‘The Owl Killers.’ I tend to start a book, but can’t help picking up others from the pile too. But all of these are proving to be great reads and I will finish them!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
‘Write the book you want to write’ and ‘Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun.’ I can’t recall who said those things, but I always keep them in mind.
I am working to promote ‘Spirit of Lost Angels.’ With my Triskele colleagues, we’re organising the next three books to be published under the label this Christmas. My agent is currently trying to sell thesecond story in the ‘L’Auberge des Anges’ series, ‘Wolfsangel,’ which follows the descendants of the Charpentier family a hundred and fifty years after the French Revolution, when the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne comes under the heel of the Nazi occupation. I am also planning the third in the ‘L’Auberge des Anges’ series, continuing the saga of the same family, the bone angel pendant, and the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne, during the 14th century plague years.