I am delighted to welcome back to Jaffareadstoo
What can you
tell us about Wolfsangel that won’t give too much away?
Wolfsangel is the second book in L’Auberge des
Anges series, and follows the descendants of the Charpentier family a hundred
and fifty years after the French Revolution, when the village comes under the
heel of the German occupation. Even before I had finished writing the first
book in the series –– Spirit of Lost Angels ––
I knew the characters had more tales to tell. However, to answer your question,
Jo, Wolfsangel was directly inspired by a true-life WWII war crime, but telling
you about this particular event would spoil the story! I’ll just say that this
tragic site has haunted me since I visited it many years ago, and I have
included some information about it in the Author’s Note section at the back of Wolfsangel.
Where did you
get the inspiration for the title of the book?
The women of Spirit
of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and the third in the series –– Midwife Héloïse –
Blood Rose Angel –– all share the same profession: healer, midwife and
angel-maker. But they also have a stronger link: an angel pendant carved from
bone, which is handed down through the generations of women of L’Auberge des
Anges. So, I wanted to keep the word “angel” in all the titles. It is also alludes
to the symbol for Das Reich’s 2nd SS Panzer Division, was notorious for the
particular war crime on which my story is based: the wolf’s hook, or
And lastly, the
Wolfs’ angel is a reference to the Jewish family who feature in this story –– Max,
Sabine, Talia and Jacob Wolf.
Why did you
choose to set this book during WWII?
After Spirit of
Lost Angels, I wanted to continue the story of the Charpentier family, their
farmhouse and their village, and what might have been their lives during
different historical eras and upheavals. During WWII, the Germans did occupy
the region of France in which Wolfsangel is set, and there was a large French
Resistance presence. Consequently, the local historical association has a lot
of documentation on this subject. I was also fortunate enough to meet “Agent du
Roc”, an ex-Resistance member who gave me first-hand accounts of what it was
really like. Two of the Resistance members in the novel –– Pierre and Antoine
–– are based on him. I also stumbled upon an excellent Occupation and
Resistance exhibition in a village of the Monts du Lyonnais ––
St-Martin-en-Haut –– which features in Wolfsangel as a “safe hideout” for
various Resistance members. Photos of the exhibition can be seen here:
your second novel in the L'Auberge des Anges series – did you feel more of an
obligation to make this book even better than the first?
I strive to
improve my writing with each book, and to make every one better than the last.
Before Spirit of Lost Angels, I wrote two books, both of which will stay asleep,
forever, on my hard drive! I regard them as part of the learning curve. That
said though, the story for Wolfsangel seemed to come more easily than the others;
it was the kind of story that wrote itself. And those, I’ve found, from the
days I wrote short stories, always seem to turn out the best.
The cover of Wolfsangel
is very evocative - who designed the cover and why did you go for that
Oh I’m glad you
like the cover, Jo; I’m so thrilled with it too. I worked closely with my very
talented Triskele Books colleague
and designer, JD Smith. She does
the covers for all our Triskele books, as well as our promotional material ––
posters, bookmarks, etc. I wanted to evoke the tragic church scene, with the
dark clouds. I wanted there illustrate hope, in the bright part of the sky,
with the bird. I also tried to go for the strong, rebellious heroine look.
What can you
tell us about the next story in the series?
As I said, a
bone-carved angel pendant is handed down from mother to daughter in the first
two books, and the stories and legends that surround this angel talisman are
many and varied. The characters are not certain from where it hails, and from
what type of bone it is sculpted. Some say it was probably carved from seal or
ox, or walrus tusk. Others believe it was mammoth bone and a few whisper that
it was carved from human bone.
I haven’t quite
decided where the angel pendant comes from, though I have several ideas, which
I’m currently exploring in the third and final novel in the series: Midwife
Héloïse – Blood Rose Angel, set in the same French village, during the 14th
century Black Plague years.
Here is the working blurb, to give you some idea:
1348. A bone-carved
angel talisman –– family heirloom, evil curse, holy relic. And Héloïse
Dumortier, the midwife-healer woman who wears it –– heretic, Devil’s servant,
When the Black
Plague arrives, sweeping across France, the superstitious villagers begin to
ask who or what is to blame for this pestilence. Fire and foul winds from the
East, or the stinking miasmas of stagnant lakes? Is it some malign conjunction
of the planets, or God’s wrath against sinners? Perhaps it is the curse of a
terror, grief and contagion, Héloïse must find the courage and compassion to
care for birthing women and plague-stricken victims. She must also fight
against those who accuse her.
Liza grew up in
Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a 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, and a novelist.
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.
completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by
Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.
Spirit of Lost
Angels, the first in the historical L’Auberge des Anges series was published
under the Triskele Books label in
May, 2012. The second in the series –– Wolfsangel –– was published in October,
2013, and Liza is working on the third novel in the series –– Midwife Héloïse –
Blood Rose Angel –– set during the 14th century Black Plague years.
Liza is a
co-founder and member of Triskele
Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and
a strong sense of place.
Liza has very kindly offered an amazing giveaway opportunity
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Liza ~ Jaffa and I are delighted to chat with you about Wolfsangel.
It's always a real pleasure to have you visit with us.
Do come back and see us again soon.
My thoughts on Wolfsangel
Wolfsangel is the second book in
the L’Auberge des Anges trilogy and opens as elderly Céleste Roussel commemorates
a tragedy which happened in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne some 68
years earlier. This emotional opening chapter sets the scene for a powerful and
dramatic story, which takes the reader back to 1943, and to a dark time in
France’s history, when the German occupation of this tiny French village had a
profound effect on those who lived and worked under the shadow of cruelty and
Céleste Roussel, and the women of
her family, have been connected to the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne, and their
home at L’Auberge des Anges for centuries. Strengthened by their ancestry, and
running like a silken thread throughout the narrative, is the continuing
connection the women of L’Auberge des Anges have with an angel talisman, which
exudes strength and positivity to those who wear it. In 1943, Céleste Roussel
is the latest keeper of the talisman, she is a spirited young woman, quick
witted, courageous and as brave as a lion, but she is also impetuous,
capricious and entirely unpredictable.
However, it is her burgeoning relationship with a Reich officer which threatens
not just her sanity, but also the safety of those who are precious to her.
With superb skill, the author has
manipulated the narrative into a powerful depiction of a dark and dangerous
time. Lucie-sur-Vionne is so vividly described that I stood in the market
square, and felt that first frisson of excitement as Céleste met the violet
eyes of the German officer, Martin Diehl. I rode with her, on the same rickety
bicycle, through dank, dark woodland, and cheered with relief when the stealthy
movements of the local résistance succeeded in one dangerous mission after
another. The squalor, the danger, and the sheer unpredictability of living life
constantly looking over your shoulder is so realistic, that you feel as if you are seeing the story unfold in real time.
Beautifully researched, and based
on historical factual evidence, the story has an emotional depth which pervades
and which reveals a story of courage, bravery and unforgettable heroism.
I loved it and can't wait for the third and final novel in the L'Auberge des Anges series.