Hi Zee, I’m delighted to welcome you to my blog today and eager to hear about your book. Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One) was released on June 30 through the Hot New Talent program at Noble Romance Publishing. How does it feel to have your brand-new book out?
Hi Chris, hi everyone! Totally stoked to be here today! Oh my, having a book out is like walking on Cloud 9. It is a fabulous, dream-state-like experience and I have to admit I never want to come down from the high. 🙂
Reading your blurb, I was curious about the location, because it is definitely set outside of the US. Where does the book take place?
It is definitely outside US territory – in fact, the book is from the Foreign Affairs line at Noble Romance, where the books are set worldwide.
Walking The Edge takes you from the trendy, hip and upper-crust areas of London and all the way across the Channel, through France, down to the Mediterranean coast and the gritty, working class cités of the port of Marseille. At some point, you even get to go to a small island off Croatia in the Adriatic Sea. 🙂
So it’s a trek for the armchair traveler?
Yes, I would certainly say so. I travelled along with my heroine while she makes the journey from Hampstead Heath in North London, through St. Pancras International station and the Eurostar channel train, on an inland TGV in France, and finally to Gare Ste Charles in Marseille. From there, she moves through the areas of the Vieux Port in the old city, travels along Corniche JF Kennedy, which is a long stretch of road bordering the sea, stays at a luxurious hotel on the beaches of the Prado. My hero takes you through his part of the town, near the football stadium, the Stade Vélodrome on the outskirts of Boulevard Michelet, and the part of town where he lives. He also takes you through La Castellane, a working class cité where he grew up. At some points, the novel features regions such as the country roads leading to Aix en Provence, and like I mentioned above, an unnamed island off Croatia in the Adriatic Sea.
Wow, what a trek! Why France, and Marseille in particular? Is the location a key part of the plot?
I knew my hero was French, and as I wanted my heroine to be in a country and a region unknown to her, I had to take her out of London and England. The hero, Gerard, would have to be her buoy in this unknown place, so it fitted that it should be a very distinctive area of France. Now since the story is a romantic suspense/thriller, I needed a setting where I could settle a fast pace, and also one where a lot of law and order activity could be taking place. The heroine, Amelia, is amnesiac, and the accident that triggers this condition is a bomb blast on a yacht. Now where are there yachts around Europe? The Mediterranean Sea, and of course, the southern coast of France where Monaco, Nice, and Cannes are located. From there, I progressed to Marseille, because it has a less ritzy and more ‘normal’ feel and pace to it, as compared to the other Mediterranean towns in France.
Now I’ve watched a lot of movies set in Marseille – for example all 4 of the hilarious French Taxi movies are set in Marseille, and these feature Marseille cops too! The Transporter series also takes place for a large part in and around Marseille. I wanted something different from Paris, a setting not usually used in books. At the same time, Marseille is an old French city, redolent with romance and history. All these pushed me in that direction. And like I told you, I knew – simply knew – the hero, Gerard, was a Frenchman. 🙂
A Frenchman, huh? Any specific reason why?
There’s this German actor called Thomas Kretschmann (I’ll wait while you all Google him! Lol) and ever since the first time I saw him, I knew I had to have him as the hero in a book someday. There’s something about him – maybe his German roots – that makes him look Old Continent European. And why not French?
So imo, Thomas Kretschmann could pass for a Frenchman – so there I had the nationality of my hero, whose name suddenly appeared as Gerard Besson, don’t ask me how! The name just popped and grafted itself onto him. I built from there then. 🙂
So he’s a cop? I’m intrigued by the mention of ‘aliases’ in your story blurb. Can you enlighten us?
Yes, he is now a commissaire in the Marseille police, a police commissioner in other words. J When the story starts – that is, when Amelia finds him in Marseille – we learn that he has recently been promoted to that post. Prior to that he was a police commandant, the one who led all the operations on the field. Gerard’s area of expertise was infiltration, hence the mention of ‘aliases’. He’s worn many different identities over the years, but now he has bowed out of the infiltration game and has settled down for a quieter life as an officer in command. Oh well, quieter… Until Amelia Jamison walks into his world.
Tell us about the heroine, Amelia. Who is she and what’s her story about?
Amelia has amnesia. She doesn’t even recall her own name, but her husband, Peter, maintains that she is Amelia Brockhurst, a South African Afrikaner foreign exchange student he married after they both finished their studies in London. So all she has is what Peter tells her about their past. She wants to know more, find out who she is, and that’s what the quest throughout the book is about.
Amnesia? We’ll get to that one shortly. But you say she has a husband?
Yes. His name is Peter Jamison.
What can you tell us about him?
That he is far from what you’d expect a husband to be! Peter is intent on controlling Amelia. When she is home, he plies her with pills that knock her out and keep her perception warped half the time when is awake. When he allows her out of the house, it’s only when the bodyguard he has assigned to her accompanies her.
Peter claims he is doing this for her own good, to protect her because she has lost her memory. But it also looks like he doesn’t want her to recover said memory, and thus will go to all lengths – even using his fists – to get his wife to remain in the dark. Yet he seems to be hiding who he is, lying about their marriage, hiding the truth, and doing everything to keep Amelia amnesiac. Why though? That’s what she asks herself, and what propels her towards Marseille, and the man there who can answer her questions.
My, lots of secrets in there! Was it difficult to come up with all of them?
Actually, no. It was more like spinning a web. One secret tied to another, and so on, until a whole tapestry was woven. Each secret built up on the other, and fed the previous one, if that makes sense. It helped that I knew what outcome I wanted, and I worked backwards from the proposed ending to plant the secrets, revelations, and clues throughout the book then.
So there was lots of research involved?
Yes. I had never written suspense before, and the story took me into an area I didn’t know beyond the obvious tourist information. I also had to delve into the world in which Gerard evolved – that of the police, of criminal activity, of undercover investigations, police and agent tradecraft – all so I could make the read as realistic as possible.
I also had to work the revelations so that the pace never let up – it is after all suspense! But I also had to layer the romance in there, merge the two so they became a seamless whole that flowed easily and without hitch. Then I also had to make sure Amelia’s amnesia and recovery held the line, that anything affecting her condition was plausible and logical.
All right – the theme of amnesia. Did you choose this on purpose, like did you want to exploit that theme, or was it convenient for the plot?
It was both, actually. I started the story with the premise that the heroine has no memory of her past. But at the same time, she isn’t a blank slate, so at some point or the other, all her back story was going to come to the fore and affect the present. Everything that happens in the novel has a link one way or the other with Amelia’s past. I had to have her with amnesia, because it is the only way she can go on a quest to find out what has been erased from her blank memory.
But then I always loved amnesia-themed stories. Finding out what actually happened, who the character truly is, what took place in the past he/she has forgotten? I find that an incredible ride and I wanted to be on one.
So your hero, Gerard – is he attracted to Amelia because of the amnesia, or despite it? Does the condition bring them together and bind them?
It definitely brings them together, because when Amelia’s memories start to manifest, it is Gerard whom she sees in a dream, whom she figures out was her lover before the accident. So logically, he must remember her, know who she is, right? That’s why she sets out to go find him.
Gerard is attracted to her on a purely physical basis at first. He wants her and he doesn’t hesitate to have her, but what he hides is the fact that Amelia makes him think back to the one woman he’d loved in the past… and who’d died in a car crash. So he is eager to know who Amelia really is too – to help her recover her memory – so he’ll finally figure out who she is and why she made him think of his lost love.
Okay, on to you, the author, now. What inspired you to write this story? I hear it’s a series?
Like I said, I was toying with the theme of amnesia, and I had a French hero to spare. I put the two together, but I never realized it would get to where it did at first. My first plan for this story was a pretty straightforward, machination-for-money type of deal. But as I wrote, I found that this outcome didn’t appeal to me. Worse, it didn’t do the characters justice either! That’s how I started looking into other potential ‘secrets’ and skeletons in Amelia’s closet. That forced me to think outside the box and the bounds of a typical what-happened romance.
And yes, it is a series. Again, I had no plans to make this into a series at first. But as I was writing, there were so many avenues opening up, so many things that happened in the back story and that could happen in the future, that it would’ve been a shame to not pursue a series. The theme will be the same, namely the Corpus Brides (and I’ll be naughty here and not explain this – you’ll get what I mean when you read the book!), but Book 2 is going to be the prequel to all that takes place in Walking The Edge.
How do you come up with story ideas usually?
Anything can trigger a story idea. Usually, I will see someone on TV or in a magazine, and in an ‘a-ha’ moment, I will know who he/she has to be. The names usually go ’tilt’ right at that point too! And from there I’ll figure out who they are, and what their story and journey should be.
Who’s your favorite character and why?
I will have to say Gerard Besson. He is everything a hero should be, but at the same time, he is a normal man with his flaws and he is nowhere near perfect. But he is fiercely loyal, and will do everything within his power to protect those he loves from harm. And he is sexy. And ruthless. And dangerous… I’ll stop here before I embarrass myself! 🙂
So what’s next now?
Writing and getting Book 2 of the series, Before The Morning, out. Book 2 features a new set of characters (and a few recurring ones you meet in Walking The Edge!) – Rayne Cheltham is the heroine, and the hero is Ash Gilfoy, her childhood best friend. Both are British, and the story takes place in rural England, with hops in London, Las Vegas, and the South of France as well. The two get married on a whim, but neither realizes that the secrets underlying this union make them now sit on a keg of gunpowder with a lit flare in their hands.
Well Zee, thanks for coming over and the best of luck to you. But don’t log out just yet for here is the blurb for the book.
Walking The Edge
The next step might be the last…
A woman without a past
Left amnesiac after an accident, Amelia Jamison struggles as her instincts slowly rise from the depths of oblivion, leading her to question her life as the wife of a cold, manipulating and distant man. Wisps of a dream show her another man she may have known intimately, but is he a memory, or a figment of her imagination?
A man with too much information
After many aliases, today Gerard Besson is simply a police commissaire in Marseille. When a mysterious woman starts to follow him, he is suspicious – and intrigued. But things aren’t what
they seem, and as he reluctantly gets closer to her, dregs of his painful, buried past emerge and make him question her identity.
Each seems to have led several different lives
But neither is prepared for what awaits them when they cross the fine line between knowing your true self and that of your alter ego.
Danger is the name of the game, and as it catches up with them in the French Provence, both know they better be ready for the inevitable fall.