Alison Morton: A writer in la belle France

This week in ‘writers abroad’, it’s all about me. When I conceived this series about people living away from their native country or having spent significant chunks of time outside it, I thought it would be amusing and entertaining. But I’ve had so many emails and comments on social media about how inspiring the posts have been, I’ve been thrilled by its success. Nobody could ask for more.

We have a few more to enjoy, but I thought I’d slot in a quick personal post just in case anybody’s interested!

My background is mixed! Languages graduate with a history MA, civil servant, bookseller, military officer, specialist antique dealer, translator and now author of ten fiction and two non-fiction books. (More here, if you need a cure for insomnia…)

I moved to France in 2010, but apart from holidaying and studying here, I’ve worked here and am thoroughly immersed in all things French. As a child, I’d played with French speaking children since I was seven years old and I’ve never stopped talking (French) since.

My first degree was in French, German and Economics, so looking beyond my home country into other people’s cultures and lives seems second nature and intensely interesting.

Writing the Roma Nova novels started about a year before I left the UK and was firmly based on my fascination with Ancient Rome. Again, it’s looking into another culture, mindset and way of life. Crossing cultures can be stimulating and challenging; looking into the past even more so.

Château de Thouars

Inevitably, there is always interaction by the main characters, Carina and Aurelia, with the countries around them, including France.

In NEXUS, Aurelia chats to the French ambassador.

In SUCCESSIO, I was naughty enough to rename Paris’s chief airport ‘Paris-LeClerc’ rather than ‘Charles de Gaulle’ (CDG) as for me General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque was a far better soldier, a man of high integrity and far more straightforward than the much more political de Gaulle. Chacun à son goût…

When it came to writing Double Identity, the first of a different series, I grabbed the chance to give it a French background, something to reflect the place where I live – Poitou. It’s an ancient area, settled before the Romans or the Angevins arrived. Rich grain-producing plains (which many other tribes, states and nations envied and which were often the reason for invading), the navigable rivers, the outstanding beauty of its rolling hills and its rich flora and fauna have marked it out over the centuries.

Vieux quartier, Parthenay

Today, it’s a mixed urban and rural area, dotted around with châteaux, manors and historic towns such as Poitiers (historical capital city), Châtellerault (France’s kings’ establishment in Poitou), Niort, La Roche-sur-Yon, Thouars, and Parthenay.

In my daily life, I come across a lot of people of mixed and dual nationality and the joys and challenges of that, so I gave new heroine Mel/Mélisende a French father and English mother. Nothing like adding in an extra layer of potential conflict!

For a writer, it’s bliss; history at a few steps away whether ancient menhirs and Roman roads or high medieval forts, Renaissance palaces, Revolutionary mindset, troglodyte dwellings, the Second World War occupation and resistance. The fields and woods look peaceful, yet teem with life and the weather is gentle with long seasons of warmth. Of course, we do get rain, but not that much.

Getting our first residency cards at the prefecture in Niort

I’ve taken part in literary events, library sessions, given workshops and have just written my hundredth column about writing and publishing for The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine.

Although I’ve also travelled regularly over the past ten years to take part in literary festivals in the UK, US and Ireland, thanks to easy access to local airports, I’m always glad when the plane touches down at Poitiers airport  and I’m nearly home.

That’s been on hold for a couple years and I’ve missed it especially talking to readers and fellow writers, but I’ve been lucky to be in a good place and write the second Mélisende thriller in the tranquility of Poitou, my new and her original homeland.

Other posts in this series:
JJ (Jill) Marsh: Switzerland, but not as you know it…
Tracy Warr: Writing medieval fiction in southern France
Vanessa Couchman: The other south of France
Kathleen McGurl: On settings
Jean Gill: Provence – for the love of bees
Cathie Dunn: Carcassonne, a writer abroad’s dream
Keith Dixon: France, the Second World War and moi
Liza Perrat: The journey from Australia to France
Erica Lainé: Landscape and memory
Anna Belfrage: Writing from Sweden across fictional worlds and times…
J G (Jane) Harlond: An Englishwoman in Andalucía
Louise Mangos: Location, location, location – Swiss style
David Ebsworth: The holistic approach to historical research – from Alicante

Read the first in the new Mélisende/Mel series
Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since dual-national Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover—and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

Buying links:
Ebook: (all e-retailers)
Paperback: Amazon worldwide    Barnes & Noble   Book Depository or through your local bookshop

What they said…
Slick and sophisticated, DOUBLE IDENTITY is an action-packed thriller that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go until the last. A cracking start to Morton’s new series!” – E.M. Powell, author of the Stanton & Barling medieval mysteries for the International Thriller Writers

B.R.A.G. Medallion winner
Selected for BookBub’s “Best Reads” of March 2021


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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