Friday, May 13, 2016

300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

I've read two books by Deborah Lawrenson: "The Lantern" which, as the cover says is a "bewitching novel of secrets, lost love, perfume and Provence". Ms Lawrenson has the ability to transport the reader right into the world she's writing about, in this case beautiful Provence and its lavender fields. 

The other book is one I've just finished: "200 Days of Sun". This time we're in the Algarve, Portugal. I'll post my review tomorrow but I'll just say for now that, once again, the reader is taken right our of his/her seat and plonked firmly down in the Algarve...where all is not what it seems.

Enough! Let's get on and have a word with Deborah Lawrenson, award-winning author of page-turning suspenseful books (watch out for the little secret she tells us that hardly anyone knows. See if you can spot it):

*Tell us something about your stay in Provence and what inspired your lovely novel “The Lantern”.

It’s less a stay in Provence than a dreamy other life! We have a property in the Luberon region, remarkably similar to the hamlet in “The Lantern”, and my husband and I spend as much time as possible there. Over the past nine years we’ve done a great deal of restoration work to the buildings and gardens, and it has come together beautifully. It’s a very peaceful, special place, with far-reaching views down the length of the valley, and we just love the ambiance, the light and the colours of this part of the South of France. The house and its surroundings definitely inspired the novel, and many of the descriptions are taken from life there.

*I understand how well you knew Provence, but I believe you only came to Portugal for a fairly short visit. What did you think about Portugal?

Every time I have been to Portugal, I have been really impressed. I really think it is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets: stunningly beautiful with great variety of land- and seascapes; fascinating architecture; lovely wine and food; and friendly people. I like the way the country holds surprises. I knew the name of Faro from a hundred airport departure boards, but never knew what a charming small city it is, with its calҫada pavements and laid-back atmosphere, the sea marshes and islands, and the stunning Old Town.

*Why did you write 300 Days of Sun and what’s it about?

I was looking for a location for a new novel (I am so happy when reviewers compare my books to Mary Stewart’s, because her transporting stories to interesting locations are exactly what I aim for) when my daughter decided to book herself on a Portuguese language course in Faro. She was only seventeen and keen to read Spanish and Portuguese at university. But I couldn’t let her go alone for two weeks, so I went along with my writing notebook.

The novel is about crossing borders, states of flux, and the way even personal identity can be subject to change.  As with most of my novels, it crosses genres, too, in a mixture of romantic suspense and WW2 historical fiction, literary fiction and a thriller element.

*The cover is brilliant—who designed it and how much input did you give?

It is a fantastic cover! It was designed by Jarrod Taylor at HarperCollins in New York. I can’t say I had input as such, but I was shown the progress and asked for my opinion all the way through the design stage. My publishers took great care to get it right, and I was actually given permission to write a blog post to tell the tale – with illustrations - of how the cover evolved. Here’s the link, if anyone would like to read it.

*Do you have a favorite book?

Such a hard question, and one I’m not sure I can answer. I read so much, and don’t often think in terms of “favorites” in any case. I am very fond of “The Great Gatsby”, as much for the lovely, scintillating prose as the story. “Prospero’s Cell” by Lawrence Durrell is a contender, as is “Mary Swann” by Carol Shields for the blending of literary themes with a mystery.

*I know you like travelling. Where would you like to live/visit next?

I would like to go to India, just to visit, but for an extended trip. I’d love to travel around the country on trains and see Jodphur and New Delhi and the lake palace at Udaipur. The bright colours and vibrancy really appeal – and I love Indian food too!

Me too!

*Is there another novel on the horizon? Are we the first to know?

There’s another novel in the pipeline, though it’s very early days. This is another one set in the South of France, with thriller elements and the early days of motion pictures in Provence. You are very close to being the first to know!

*At your next dinner party, if you could choose anyone alive or dead, who would you invite?

Just one? The artist Paul Cezanne. I’d like to ask him about colour and paint, and how it was he began to see the landscapes around Aix-en-Provence in a different way, and how he began to evolve his technique when so many people didn’t understand what he was doing.

Because your writing has such a lyrical quality, I'm really not surprised by this answer.

Come back tomorrow for my review of "300 Days of Sun".

Buy "300 Days of Sun" from  Amazon

Find Deborah here: blog/ webpage



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