I am really excited to be featuring Liza Perrat’s Wolfangel today. World War II has been a period in US history and world history that I have read up on a great deal over the last few years. It’s a frightening time in the past of our country, but also one that we need to learn from so that we can become better people.
Wolfsangel is available now on kindle for $3.99 or in print for $12.99. I’ve teamed up with Triskele Books and Prism Book Tours to bring you an awesome giveaway—a chance to win this book as well as two others. The details of the giveaway are below. But before we get to that, I wanted to share with you an interview with Liza Perrat to give you more insight on the author and Wolfsangel.
JJ Marsh interviews Liza Perrat
What triggered the idea to write about the effects of World War II on a rural French village?
Despite being a standalone novel, Wolfsangel is also the second in L’Auberge des Anges historical series. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels features the rural village of Lucie-sur-Vionne, and a bone-carved angel pendant that is passed down through generations of the Charpentier family. I wanted to keep Lucie-sur-Vionne and this family alive, exploring the effects of different historical upheavals on village and family life .
But what prompted me to write about WWII in particular, was a visit to the site of the terrible war tragedy of Oradour-sur-Glane. This village haunted me, and I knew one day I would write a story based on it.
Also, there’s a lot of documentation, movies, etc on how the bigger French cities were bombed, occupied and affected during WWII, but not that much information on the small village. I wanted to focus on a small, rural population in the hope the reader would get to know the characters more intimately and thus (hopefully) sympathise with them.
Why did you choose to make your heroine fall for a German soldier?
Because “horizontal collaboration” occurred quite frequently during the Occupation, despite it being fraught with the danger of having one’s head shaved in public humiliation.
How do you render the nuances of rhetorical, eloquent, passionate French dialogue in English?
Occasionally I’m tempted to use the French word in a situation where there isn’t really a suitable English equivalent, like “voilà” and “oh là là”, which leads me to the question: how much French to put in the text? It’s not easy to achieve that fine balance: a taste to make the story sound “French” and remind the reader where she/he is, but not littered with so many foreign words that the reader is groping for their dictionary every second page, or worse, chucks the book aside in frustration. When I spoke at several book clubs about the first book in the series, Spirit of Lost Angels, I realised that a lot of people had problems pronouncing characters’ names, which reminded me that I too, knew not a word of French 20 years ago. So, for Wolfsangel, I have tried to find more easily pronounceable names for the characters.
Where did you gather so much rich period detail?
I live in a rural French village where the historical association (L’Araire) for the western Lyon region is based. The friendly staff at L’Araire are always more than willing to lend me their booklets and archives containing first-hand information about the German occupation both here in the countryside, and in the nearby city of Lyon.
I also stumbled upon an excellent Occupation and Resistance exhibition in another village of the Monts du Lyonnais, St-Martin-en-Haut, which features in the story. Photos of the memorabilia can be found on the “Wolfsangel” page of my website.
A friend knew a Resistance member who agreed to be interviewed. Despite his advanced years, “Agent du Roc” seemed truly in his element, recounting valuable first-hand information on his missions in and around Lyon. Two of the resistance members in the novel – Pierre and Antoine – are based on him.
When writing about the Nazi occupation of France, I imagine there are many sensitive points which can still cause upset. Did that make you nervous?
Most of the people who lived during the Occupation are now old, or have passed away. Strangely enough, those still able to talk about it seem to remember it with a certain fondness, or nostalgia. They love recalling how they deceived and swindled the enemy at every possible turn, whispering and sniggering behind their backs; they are proud of their “resistance”. Of course, the darker side of this period in history is still very sensitive, and that’s why I kept as far away from the Holocaust details as possible. It will always be a very upsetting subject, and I didn’t want to write about it.
Which elements of the story were the hardest to write, and why?
The “final showdown’ was difficult to write, as it’s very closely based on a true-life event.
The return of survivors from the German camps was also hard, as I tried to imagine how the people must have been affected.
It was also harrowing to have to kill off one of my favourite characters!
Who in your opinion, are the best writers at bringing historical events to vivid, sensory life?
Oh there are so many of them, but I enjoy the works of Karen Maitland, Edith Pargeter, Kate Grenville, Zoe Saadia, C.P. Lesley, Geraldine Brooks and Sarah Waters, just to name a few.
Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.
She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.
Spirit of Lost Angels was the first in L’Auberge des Anges historical series set against a backdrop of rural France. Wolfsangel is the second, and Liza is currently working on the third in the series: Midwife Héloîse – Blood Rose Angel, set in the 14th century Black Death years.
1 Signed Paperback,
Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat
Ghost Town by Catriona Troth
Overlord, The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith
1 Signed Paperback of any one book out of each series,
1 eBook Boxset of each,
1 eBook of each book in both series…
The Charter, Closure, Complicit by Gillian Hamer
Behind Closed Doors, Raw Material, Tread Softly by JJ Marsh
November 15 – 29
Print copies available in US/Can/UK. eCopies are available internationally. See Rafflecopter for details!
A Week of Interviews and Giveaways!
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