Liza Perrat: The journey from Australia to France

This week my guest, Liza Perrat, originates from the other side of the world. She grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She’s now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a medical translator and a novelist.

Liza’s books include The Bone Angel historical fiction series – three standalone French village stories spanning six hundred years. Three midwife-healer women are linked by a bone angel talisman during the French Revolution (Spirit of Lost Angels), WW2 Nazi-occupied France (Wolfsangel) and the 1348 Black Plague (Blood Rose Angel).

The Silent Kookaburra is the first novel in her Australian 1970s drama series. The second is The Swooping Magpie and the third, The Lost Blackbird

Over to Liza!

I left Australia to come and live in France almost twenty-eight years ago where, sadly, my midwifery and nursing qualifications weren’t recognised. So that put a stop to my career in the medical field, coupled with my two young children and number three not far behind!

I’d always been a voracious reader and had entertained thoughts of creative writing when I was young and I think that living in a French village and being surrounded by all this old European history, as opposed to Australia’s very recent history, gave me the idea to write an historical novel. I love historical fiction as a means of learning about history without an academic lesson and I’m also passionate about history so, in hindsight, it’s no surprise I ended up writing about it.

The first novel idea came to me on a Sunday walk along the riverbank near our home. I came across a stone cross (croix à gros ventre, or “Cross with the big belly”). Dated 1717, it commemorates two children who drowned in the river.

Who were they? How did they drown, and where are they buried? I wanted to know more about them; to give them names, a family, a village. An identity. I felt the urge to write the story of these lost children, and was pleased to discover our village has a local history centre (L’Araire) staffed with very helpful volunteers. I’ve since made numerous visits there, for my subsequent novels. Sadly, there was no information on these drowned children, except that they were four and five years old, and are buried in the neighbouring village cemetery. So I used my newly-acquired research to imagine what they’d been like; to conjure up their family, their village, their identities, so I could bring them to life.

The children had died in the same century as the French Revolution took place, and that seemed the most obvious setting: the peasants versus the aristocracy – on the small scale of my story, paralleled with the larger, real-life scale. A dramatic backdrop for the dramatic event of their drowning. This story became my first novel, Spirit of Lost Angels.

It started out as a one-off standalone, however once it was finished, I realised there were more stories to tell about the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne (fictional, though based on where I live), the farmhouse (L’Auberge des Anges), and the family who own it. I’d also learned that this was a very active French Resistance area during the Nazi Occupation of Lyon in WW2, so the second in the series, Wolfsangel was based around that idea.

I’d used dramatic historical events for the settings of these books and by the time I reached the third novel, I’d become intrigued by the medieval period. So the bubonic plague seemed a logical choice for the setting of Blood Rose Angel: one woman fighting against the village, symbolising the people of the world battling against the greater enemy of Black Death.

Each book can be read as a standalone even though the bone angel talisman links each heroine, and the stories all deal with the same family, the same farmhouse and the same French village.

There’s much I miss about Australia: family, friends, the space, the lovely beaches and the easy way of life. However, there’s much I love about my new home country, France: the history, the old architecture, the age-old yarns and tales. And I doubt very much I’d have discovered the joy of writing historical fiction had I not come to live in a French village.

Connect with Liza
Website and blog:
Follow Liza on BOOKBUB

I loved Liza’sBone Angel series set here in France, but she draws on her Australian roots for The Lost Blackbird.
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?

Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.

Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?

Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?

Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?

A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

Buy from  Amazon UK    Amazon US   Amazon AUS


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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