Marie Laval joins me this week to talk about her newly released novel with Choc Lit, Queen of the Desert, to tell us why she writes and to ask the question – can you speak camel? Gorgeous cover, Marie and over to you …
Thank you very much, Morton, for inviting me on your blog today to talk about my writing, and more specifically why I write. This is a question people often ask, but I very rarely ask myself. I have always loved reading and escaping into fictional worlds, and writing is just another way of doing that – with the added bonus that I get to make up my own fictional worlds and populate them with characters whose life, dreams, flaws and struggles I have imagined.
Another thing I love about writing is research. It’s truly amazing what you find out when you write a novel!
For example, while researching the background and setting of my historical romance Queen of the Desert, which was released by Choc Lit on February 15th 2022, I came across fascinating material about North Africa – enchanting Tuareg poems and legends, accounts of expeditions in the Sahara, beautiful photos of the most breathtaking scenery…and fabulous snippets of information about camels, taken from the anthology ‘Contes et Légendes du Niger’ by Pierre-Marie Decoudras and Laurence Rivaille and published by Karthala, Paris.
Why was I so interested in camels?
Much of the story is set in Southern Algeria where my hero Lucas Saintclair travels with the heroine Harriet Montague in the hope of finding her missing father. On the way, they encounter danger and treason, adventure and passion, of course – it is a romance novel after all. They also hook up with a Tuareg tribe to travel to Tamanrasset, and Harriet gets to find out a little about the nomads’ way of life.
Camels aren’t only essential to local tribes as a means of transport. They are also companions and ‘an inexhaustible source of information’. Not only do they know where to find pastures and water holes, but they also warn their owners of dangers and trouble ahead. Some nomads even claim that their camel can talk!
Here are a few examples recorded by the authors. When a camel walks around the campsite several times at dawn then kneels down in front of its master’s tent and grunts, it is warning about unwelcome visitors. When it stands looking to the East sniffing the air for several hours, it announces a storm. And if a camel refuses to stand up whilst being harnessed, it’s a sign that its owner shouldn’t travel that day, but stay in his tent and drink tea.
I completely empathise with that camel. I often feel like that in the morning too!
Grumpy camels aside, I hope that readers will enjoy the adventure and the mystery in Queen of the Desert as much as the romance between Harriet and Lucas, who remains one of my all time favourite heroes…
About Queen of the Desert
Sometimes 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?
About Marie Laval
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling LITTLE PINK TAXI was her debut contemporary romantic novel with Choc Lit. A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019 and bestselling romantic suspense ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE is her latest contemporary romance. QUEEN OF THE DESERT is Marie’s second historical romance, following on from ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE which features another member of the Saintclair family.
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. Her novels are available as ebooks and audiobooks on Amazon and various other platforms.
Thank you for this, Marie. I just love your new cover. Can’t wait to read the book! Mx