Hey there everyone.
Here we are again with another fantastic guest for my ongoing Author Interview Series.
May I introduce to you all author Angela Wren, as we take a journey to France where her novels are set, as we indulge in the adventures of her Cosy Crime Mystery Thriller series.
Thanks for reading, have fun and have a great evening 🙂
Hi there Angela, a pleasure to have you here today to discuss your novels, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Thanks for inviting me.
Let’s start first with your cosy crime novel series “The Jacques Forêt mystery stories”, which are set in the Cévennes in south-central France and you have just published your third one “Montbel”. Please tell us all about the plot and themes of your books, along with background behind Jacques Forêt and his own passion for solving mysteries.
As with many mystery/crime stories the central and overriding theme is that crime doesn’t pay. My stories follow that well-established principle as my investigator, Jacques, always gets the bad guys. There may be twists and turns that take Jacques further away from his overall goal or that fool him into thinking in a different way about a suspect, but he always gets his quarry in the end.
Although the stories are linked, in that Jacques is the central character in each, and through the central theme, the crimes are very different. In Messandrierre, Jacques stumbles on a series of crimes involving the disappearance of travellers/visitors to the village. In the second book, Merle, Jacques finds himself in the city of Mende trying to unravel a case involving commercial sabotage and internal fraud within the Vaux organisation – a privately owned group of companies.
The most recently published book, Montbel, re-examines an old police case. But the more Jacques digs for information; the more his questions go unanswered. When a key witness is found dead, Jacques knows there’s more to the case, and he goes all out to solve the mystery.
As for Jacques, he’s a policeman to the core. But rural policing is not as satisfying as some of the highly complex cases he had worked on in the Judiciaire (the equivalent of the UK CID) in Paris. It’s the hunt for the criminal that motivates him; the solving of the puzzle. He can be a bit of a maverick, so he will sometimes disobey his boss, but he is honest and is trusted by his colleagues and the people who work for him.
Book Blurb for Montbel:-
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?
If your novels were to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Wow! That’s a tough question. I’ve never even thought about that. I would insist on the French characters being played by French actors, though and Jacques looking like his physical description in the books. As for who would play him? Absolutely not Gérard Depardieu, I know that. I did once see a production of The Pearl Fishers in Leeds some years ago with a gorgeous French baritone in the cast. I think it might have been André Cognet. He looks very much how I imagine Jacques. However, I think Monsieur Cognet is just a bit too short as Jacques is 1.9m tall.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
I wasn’t sure what a ‘spirit animal’ was so had to look that one up, and the results were interesting. By birth, my zodiac sign is Aries and I do have quite a few of those traits – independent, creative and I can be fiery when I need to be. When I looked at the traits for Native American spirit animals, I seemed to be a bit of raven as I am often reflective and can be trusted. But I also seem to be a bit of bear too as I can be relied upon and am usually very practical and down to earth.
I also looked up my surname as a spirit animal. According to Celtic mythology the wren symbolises activity, vibrancy, alertness and efficiency. Yes I’m all of those to a certain extent. Talk to my writing colleagues and they’ll tell you I am scarily efficient! I think perhaps, in my writing, I’m probably more wren and raven than anything else and I kind of like that idea.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
I think directness is one thing. I never use 42 words when 7 very carefully considered, and chosen words will convey the exact meaning I have in mind. I think there’s a lot of colour in my writing, too. As a reader – and I’ve been an avid reader since I was a tiny child – I automatically look for the colour in every book I pick up. As a result, I never read blurbs when I’m searching for a new novel to read. I always go to the first page and begin reading, and if I can’t see the colour in the words in the first couple of paragraphs, then the book usually goes back on the shelf.
As for writing quirks – I don’t think I have any of those unless you count making some ice cream while carrying out a mental structural edit which was something I did for the first book.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
The things I find the most difficult are the planning and the editing. When I’m planning a story, I sometimes put off making decisions, and that usually leads to stasis. Then I have to give myself a good telling off and attack the task with renewed vigour and decisiveness.
I find editing very time consuming and tiring, but I know it is an essential part of the writing and publication process. So, I guess I just wear it.
As for the best bits, well that has to be writing the story. I love to live in the heads of my characters, and sometimes they take me off plan, which can be very scary but also exciting. And then there’s the arrival of the book. Of course, it’s not just any book. It’s my book, my words on paper. When I pick up that book I know I’m holding my words in own hands. I kind of think that’s awesome.
The Cevennes in summer / Photo by Angela Wren
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
Another almost impossible question to answer! How to choose just a few? OK, I guess I will start with Shakespeare. I’ve been reading him, learning and reciting his words since I was 6 years old. Agatha Christie has to be on my list. I remember finding her books at the age of 12/13 and then gradually working my way through her oeuvre.
Along with Christie, I have to include Conan-Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Minnette Walters and Dorothy L Sayers. I also love D H Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and Nathaniel Hawthorne to name just a few on my bookshelves. I suppose I also need to admit that, as a youngster, I cut my teeth on Hans Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and Perrault and I still love those stories.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
It varies from story to story and in some respects, you could say that I’ve been researching my novels since I first visited France as a teenager. I now spend three months of every year there. I also have a shelf full of books about France – the geography, the history, the culture, food and wine – that I use to look up whatever I need. In addition, I use a number of sites on the internet. If I can’t find the answer after that, I go to the library, or I go to France and visit a specific town or city and find out what I need to know.
The Cevennes in snow, but not winter! / Photo by Angela Wren
(This photo was taken on September 27th, 2007 and it inspired the first paragraphs of Messandrierre and therefore the whole series of books)
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I write because I love it and that stems from the stories my dad used to tell me when I was a tiny child. When I was deemed too old for bedtime stories, I used to make them up for myself. Writing them down became the next natural step.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I just do something different for a while. Writing is not my only job. I also work in a theatre as an actor and director. But we lease the property, so I often work as the Duty Manager or in the Box Office, backstage and sometimes in the scenery bay. Painting a stage flat can be very therapeutic and can quickly free the mind. When I next pick up my manuscript, I have usually solved whatever it was that prevented me from continuing with my story.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
What an interesting question. Hmmm…The choices we make and the experiences we live through make us the people that we are. I’m content with what I’ve achieved and who I am, so I suppose, if I were to meet my younger self, I’d probably say ‘Just keep on as you are.’ But would I warn myself about the not so good people I’ve encountered? Probably not. It would be nice to think that I might be able to save myself some later heartache or distress, but living through those particular experiences also shaped the person that I am today.
An ancient Cevenol village / Photo by Angela Wren
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Actually, it’s the other way around! I spend most of my time at the theatre, and it’s the writing that I do in my free time. When I do give myself some time off from the writing, I like to spend it with friends, going out for meals, visiting other theatres and taking in the occasional art exhibition, or visiting France. If I’m not at my keyboard or the theatre, I’m probably in France!
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m writing book 4 in my Jacques Forêt series which I expect to be published towards the end of this year. I have a completely separate and different project to pick up at the end of 2019. I also have a series of 5 stories to write featuring a new detective and who knows what else after that.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Never give up!
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for spending time with us Angela and allowing us to get to know you better, we’ll be sure to check out all your books soon 🙂
Bio:- (in her own words)
“My name is Angela Wren, I’m an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where I live in the county of Yorkshire in the UK.
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.”
You can connect with Angela via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook:- Angela Wren (FB)
Goodreads:- Angela Wren (Goodreads Author)
Twitter:- @AngelaWrenAuthr (Twitter)
Website:- The Website of Author Angela Wren
You can buy her books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.