Quick Fire Questions with Marie Laval

Decided to catch up with my fellow author on the other side of the Atlantic, for some quick fire questions….

Vodka and Coke or Malibu and Coke?

Neither! I am a red wine or Prosecco girl!

Novella or novel?

Novel. I love to take the time to get to know the characters and be involved in the plot. Having said that, I really enjoy writing short stories.

Series or stand alone?

I don’t mind either, as long as the series actually ends and doesn’t leave me all confused and wondering if there’s going to be another book…

indexNestle or Cadburys?

Hotel Chocolat.

Rock music or pop music?

 both, depending on the mood. I actually enjoy all kinds of music, from Pink to Dire Straits, from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley, from The Rolling Stones to Bach or Madonna… And then of course there are all the French songs I sing to when I’m driving!


Lidl or Aldi

Lidl is great for delicious bread, Portuguese tarts and continental cheeses.

Christmas or Easter?

I love both. Christmas is lovely and cosy and a great time to hibernate with the people I love, but Easter is the beginning of spring when the days are getting longer and the daffodils and bluebells are everywhere.

Snow or Rain?

I am a very nervous driver so driving in snow petrifies me completely. Having said that the hills where I live look beautiful in the snow.

Summer or autumn?

Summer, definitely…I do enjoy spending time in my small garden and looking at all the colourful flowers.

Brown paper or shiny wrapping paper?

Brown paper because it reminds me of receiving parcels from my family in France, with all kinds of goodies inside!

Early morning or late at night?

I always get up early, even at weekends, as it’s when I get the most done. I love the feeling that I have the whole day ahead of me…


ScottishFINALCan a Desert Rose survive a Scottish winter?

The wild Scottish landscape is a far cry from Rose Saintclair’s Saharan oasis, although she’ll endure it for Lord Cameron McRae, the man she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers. But when stormy weather leads to Rose’s Scotland-bound ship docking on Cape Wrath – the land of Cameron’s enemy, Bruce McGunn – could her new life already be in jeopardy?

Lord McGunn was a fearless soldier, but his experiences have made him as unforgiving as the land he presides over. He knows McRae won’t rest until he owns Wrath, and the man is willing to use brutal tactics. Bruce decides that he’ll play McRae at his own game, take the ship and its precious occupant, and hold them hostage.

Rose is determined to escape, but whilst captured she learns that there’s another side to her new husband – and could her supposedly cold and ruthless kidnapper also be concealing hidden depths?



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What Makes an Author?

A question that I have always pondered is what makes an author? As I *think* I can now class myself as one having written 2 / 3 books so I asked Marie Laval a fellow Choc-lit author what she thinks makes an author.

MarieLavalPhoto“My first instinct was to beg you to give me another question to write about because I don’t feel in any way qualified to answer it… Perhaps it’s because I suffer from a massive case of imposter syndrome, but I have never consider myself an ‘author’.  In fact I very rarely talk about my writing life to work colleagues or friends who aren’t writers because not everybody understands the need to create ‘imaginary worlds’ and populate them with characters who feel like real people. The few times I tried I got strange looks or people’s eyes glazed over and they quickly switched to another topic of conversation, such as a favourite series on Netflix or what they were having for tea.    

For as long as I can remember I’ve had the need to jot down ideas in a diary or a notebook and to write notebook-4048796_640stories – the need to escape in an alternate universe with people I made up and yet who were completely real to me, and places which I loved as if I actually lived there myself even if I had never actually visited them. My brain is constantly full of parallel thought processes – about work and family life, of course, and about whatever story I am inhabiting at the time and characters who need a voice and plots problems that need solving.  

So, what makes an author? I should mention imagination of course, the ability to give life to engaging characters readers can see, hear and relate to, and the skills needed to write snappy dialogues or immerse readers in a landscape. But I think that taking the time to dream and let your mind wander is absolutely essential too. The older I get the more I realise that time is a luxury – time to be with loved ones or to be alone…


I am very lucky to live in a village surrounded by hills and lovely countryside and when I was stuck on a plot problem I have always found that going for a walk worked really well to sort things out in my head and I came back not invigorated but with a few new ideas too.


And of course, what an author needs most of all is the perseverance to keep going every day, even if only for an hour or so after work. It’s not easy, I know, and not always possible. My family circumstances dramatically changed last year and for these past few months I haven’t been able to write every evening like I used to. Most nights in fact I can only manage a few lines before nodding off on my laptop. I hope I can get more organised in my work and home life soon and find a way to get back into writing.”


FINALQueen of the Desert by Marie LavalSometimes the most precious treasures exist in the most barren and inhospitable of places …
Harriet Montague is definitely too much of a gentlewoman to be frequenting the backstreet taverns of Algiers. But her father has been kidnapped whilst on an expedition to the tomb of an ancient desert queen, and she’s on a mission to find the only person who could save him.

It’s just unfortunate that Lucas Saintclair, the man Harriet hopes will rescue her father from scoundrels, is the biggest scoundrel of the lot. With a bribe in the form of a legendary pirate treasure map, securing his services is the easiest part – now Harriet must endure a treacherous journey through the desert accompanied by Saintclair’s band of ruffians.

But on the long, hot Saharan nights, is it any wonder that her heart begins to thaw towards her guide – especially when she realises Lucas’s roguish façade conceals something she could never have expected? Continue reading “What Makes an Author?”

Marie Laval

This is Marie’s second book of 2021 and is most definitely on fire! Below Marie talks about her inspiration behind Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cover…


Thank you very much, Claire, for having me on your blog today to talk about Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove, my latest contemporary romantic novel released by Choc Lit UK on 22nd June. I am a slow writer and as usual it took me over a year to write this story but I remember perfectly the three things that inspired me.

There was the photo of a yellow mobile library on a deserted road in the Highlands that an author friend posted on Facebook. I am not a very brave driver at all and I just couldn’t imagine driving a vehicle that size on narrow, winding roads in the middle of nowhere, but mobile librarians do it all the time, and they really are a lifeline for remote communities. It really does annoy me tremendously that the work librarians do is far too often unappreciated and unrecognised, and that so many libraries were closed these past few years. We used to have a small library in my village where children stopped on their way back from school. Sadly, it has now gone…


Regarding the setting of the story, I knew I wanted an island, and read quite a number of books regarding the Hebrides, including the wonderful A Drop in the Ocean by Lawrence MacEwen about his family, his life and his work on the Isle of Muck. I finally chose the Isle of Skye with its glorious, breathtaking landscapes… but don’t try to find Arrandale, Mermaid Cove or Daniel McGregor’s ruined castle on a map of Skye because I made them up!  


Finally I was very much inspired by a television series about the brave and selfless men and women volunteers at the RNLI. These people dedicate their time and risk their life to rescue people at sea, and yet are incredibly humble and modest. I have so much admiration for them.




HappyDreamsAtMermaidCoveFINALFrom the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye … 

When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams …

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?



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Which Books… Marie Laval

Marie has a new book coming out TOMORROW! So I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d written. MarieLaval (4)

Kate Mosse’s 2005 novel Labyrinth, without a doubt! I loved everything about that novel – the dual timeline, the history of the doomed 13th century Cathars who were persecuted and their castles destroyed, the heroine’s mysterious quest and the fact it was set in the beautiful French city of Carcassone….

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love the cover of Delphine de Vigan’s novel ‘Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit’ (Nothing Holds Back the Night) – and isn’t that a gorgeous title? The woman is beautiful, enigmatic, and so very stylish in her black polo neck. She looks like a character in a Nouvelle Vague film from the late Fifties, and you can’t help wondering who she is smiling to…This cover reminds me very much of family get-togethers in France when we used to spend hours at the dining table and everybody used to smoke and talk at the same time…rien-ne-s'oppose-a-la-nuit


Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

Quasimodo in Alexandre Dumas’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame. From the day he was born people feared him, used him and treated him like a monster and a ‘creation of the devil’. Nobody except Esmeralda was prepared to get to know him and see beyond his appearance…

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I have recently re-read Delphine de Vigan’s novel ‘No et Moi’ (No and Me), in which quirky and super intelligent thirteen year old Lou endeavours to rescue a homeless young woman from life on the street. It’s a wonderful, emotional novel too told through the eyes of young Lou and one that made me want to reach out to No. Homelessness is a cause very close to my heart…

Which book would you make children read.

Every time I suggested books to my two sons as they were growing up, it was a flop and they rarely finished them so I gave up and let them choose whatever they wanted from the library. My daughter however was from a very young age an avid reader, and it was a joy picking books for her. When she was about eight I directed her towards Enid Blyton whose books I had loved as a child (especially ‘Le Club des Cinq’ which was the French translation of The Famous Five).

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I would rewrite Bluebell’s Christmas Magic as a historical gothic novel, give the ghostly grey friar a central part in the story and make Belthorn Manor a much creepier and scarier place!

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I would love to write poetry or song lyrics. A few words can paint a story, convey emotions, and transport you somewhere else, or simply puzzle you and make you think, and good verses or lyrics stick in your mind for years… I read a lot of poetry when I was younger, and verses still randomly pop up in my mind. French poets Verlaine, Hugo, Aragon and Eluard are my favourites, as well as Jacques Prévert who had many of his poems turned into songs.  

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

Another tough question, Claire! I really don’t know… Designing a book cover is a skilled and complicated job for which I am absolutely not qualified, but I would love to give a book of M.R. James ghost stories an atmospheric and disturbingly creepy cover if I had the talent to do so…

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

That’s a very tricky question, Claire! I spent quite a lot of time thinking about it, looking through my bookcase – real and virtual. So many books made a lasting impression on me, and for all kinds of reasons, and I couldn’t choose just one…

Then I stumbled upon a book my son’s girlfriend gave me a couple of years ago. It’s called ‘Extreme Ironing’, which his supposedly ‘the latest adrenaline sport combining the thrills of outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.’ You would be surprised to learn how many extreme ironists there are out there who record ironing exploits at the top of mountains, the bottom oceans, or whilst jogging or trampolining!

That silly book really made me smile, and reminded me of an important ‘lesson’: don’t be afraid to be yourself and follow your dreams even if others think you’re daft or crazy. You will always find people as crazy as you to understand you and be your friend!

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

Grown ups, the latest Marian Keyes. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and Wurthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I have started several times but never managed to finish… This time, I want to try to read it to the end!




An ancient secret hidden within a mother’s song …

When young widow, Marie-Ange Norton is invited to Beauregard in France by the mysterious Monsieur Malleval to collect an inheritance, she has no choice but to accept.But when she embarks on the voyage with her fiery-tempered travelling companion Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, little does she know what waits for her across the sea in turbulent nineteenth-century France on the eve of Napoleon’s return from exile. When she arrives, she is taken aback by Malleval’s fascination with her family – seemingly inspired by his belief they are connected to a sacred relic he’s read about in coded manuscripts by the Knights Templar.

As it becomes clear that Malleval’s obsession has driven him to madness, Marie-Ange is horrified to realise she is more the man’s prisoner than his guest. Not only that, but Hugo is the only person who might be able to help her, and he could represent a different kind of danger …



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Meet The Family – Marie Laval

Marie Laval is another one if Choc-Lit’s international writers. I am really looking forward to catching up with Marie and learning all about her books and her life across the pond.

MarieLaval (2)


Bonjour, Marie and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Escape to The Little Chateau.


What inspired you to write “Escape to The Little Chateau?”

It was a family holiday in Provence, Clare. Being from Lyon, I often holidayed in the South of France as a child, and I always loved the area – the sunshine, the picturesque villages, the vibrant colours and the riot of scents… and the fountains. There are fountains everywhere – some were very grand and ornate like in Aix-en-Provence, others a plain stone trough with only an old tap spurting fresh water.

One fountain in particular captured my imagination. It stood on a secluded square in the small seaside town of Cassis where we had stopped for an impromptu picnic. As soon as I saw it and read its Latin inscription, I knew I had the basis of a plot.

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

I liked the idea of the panel reading submission and making a recommendation, and they have fantastic authors who I love and admire. Having been with Choc Lit for a couple of years now, I am delighted with the care and attention they bring to the whole editing and publishing process and with the gorgeous covers they have designed for my novels. They are great publisher to work with.

If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to be patient! It takes a long time from the moment you send your story to your publisher to the day the book is published…

If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?

school-2276269_640I do have a full-time job as a teacher and I fit my writing around it, but I can’t ever imagine not writing…I always have so many stories swirling in my mind, so many stories I want to tell…It is also a great community to belong to. I have made such great friends, some I meet regularly (although not in the last few months, unfortunately), and others I only ‘talk’ to on social media.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

It wasn’t easy, Clare. In fact at one time my partner said that I should stop writing because I was only making myself miserable and I had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the backroom! I didn’t listen to him, of course. I carried on writing and submitting, and one day, I had an offer of publication…

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Read lots, attend workshops if you can (although these may be virtual in the current circumstances), talk to people, and most of all write every day in order to keep in touch with your characters and their emotions.

Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?

balcony-1834990_640I write whenever I can, which means that I often doze off on my keyboard late in the evening. One of my favourite and most productive times for writing is early Saturday and Sunday morning when my family is still asleep and the house is quiet.

Which authors inspired you to write?

There are so many it would be impossible to choose, but my passion for writing started at an early age, when I still lived in France, so the authors who influenced me the most where French. Joseph Kessel, Colette, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Maupassant, to name but a few. As a teenager, I also loved Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins-Clark, and I devoured Harlequin romances!

Would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

It would be a dream come true if the story was ever adapted for the cinema or television… tumblr_mezvn71Z8n1s02bw9o1_400

However I cannot think of anyone I would cast as Fabien, except a young Alain Delon or a young Jude Law, which of course would be impossible!

photocall-in-time-with-justin-timberlake As for Amy, it would have to be Amanda Seyfried. She is brilliant and has a very appealing combination of vulnerability and quirkiness…


What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I do have a number of projects I am hoping to complete in the next few months – three romance novels, including a Christmas story for next year. I am also hoping to revise and republish three historical romance novels which are all very dear to my heart.

More About Marie

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling LITTLE PINK TAXI was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit.  A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019. She also writes short stories for the bestselling Miss Moonshine anthologies, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.


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Will Amy’s dreams of a Provençal escape come true?

There are many reasons Amy Carter is determined to make Bellefontaine, her farmhouse hotel in the French countryside, a success. Of course, there’s the time and money she’s put in to making it beautiful, but she also has something to prove – particularly to people like Fabien Coste.

Fabien is the owner of the nearby château, and he might just be the most arrogant, patronising man Amy has ever met … unfortunately, he’s also the most handsome.

But as rumours circulate in the local community and secrets about the old farmhouse begin to reveal themselves, Amy quickly sees the less idyllic side of life at Bellefontaine. Could Fabien be the man to help prevent her Provençal dream from turning into a nightmare?

This was previously published as A Spell in Provence by Accent Press in 2015. This is a revised, edited and updated version. Published October 2020 by Choc Lit.



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