It isn’t every day that I’m introduced an actress and writer, especially one from the United Kingdom. I’m so pleased Angela agreed to be a guest today.
Angela’s novel, Messandrierre, is the first in her new crime series.
Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.
But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.
In this excerpt, a little boy named Pierre Mancelle, who dreams of one day becoming a policeman, inserts himself into Officer Jacques workday.
“Junior Gendarme Mancelle reporting for duty, sir,” shouted Pierre as he cycled past Jacques and stopped just ahead of him.
Jacques saluted and smiled as Pierre got off his bike and tried to match Jacques’ pace as he continued along the path to the top road.
Pelletier met him outside the farmhouse. “Beth all right?”
Jacques nodded. “She’s at home resting.” Remembering that Pierre was at his side he squatted down to talk to him. “This is a real crime scene, Pierre, and I’m needed to help with the removal of evidence. So I—”
“Are there any dead bodies?” Pierre asked with an inappropriate enthusiasm whilst straining to see what might be going on inside.
Jacques suppressed a smirk and glanced up at Pelletier who was grinning.
“We don’t know yet,” he lied. “But the thing is, Pierre, only senior gendarmes are allowed at a crime scene so that means that I’ve no one to look after and patrol the village. So I need you to do that for me. OK?” He rose.
“Yes, sir,” said Pierre and set off along the top road to ride around the village.
Thank you for being here, Angela!
Was there one event that led you to decide to write for publication?
Yes, I submitted a story for a competition in a magazine called Ireland’s Own. Then I forgot all about it and went to France. When I got back, amongst the mountain of post that I had received, was a letter from the Editor of the magazine offering me €40 for my story. I hadn’t won the competition, but my piece had been picked out to be included with others in an anthology. Naturally, I said yes. On my bookshelves, in my office where I write, I have a picture of the cheque. When the going gets tough, I look at it and remind myself that my writing does have value!
How has being an actor influenced your writing? And vice-versa, how has your acting changed, now that you’re a writer?
I think they have grown hand in hand throughout my life. I started acting at the age of 6 and quickly realised that I’d found something that I could do without my brothers and theatre became a permanent fixture in my life.
Telling stories is also something I’ve grown up with. Saturday afternoons reading fairy tales with my dad supplanted listening as he told me bedtime stories. As I grew older I began to make up my own stories. For me it was a logical step from telling stories to writing them down.
As an actor, I have to take the script and build the character I’m playing into a living breathing person for the audience to see and believe in. Once I’m in costume and make-up and I’m on that stage there is only 10 per cent of me there – that’s the bit of me that I need to keep me saying my lines, breathing and moving. The other 90 per cent is the character that I have come to know through rehearsals where, in conjunction with the director, I build that person from the toes upwards. I look for clues in the text, the stage directions, the emotions behind the lines. A character on stage has to behave like a normal person. They may have an accent, a particular tone of voice. All of these details I think about in advance.
As a writer, I build my characters in my books and stories in the same way. I know what colour their eyes are, I know what their greatest regret in life is, their most wanted hope, their favourite colour… It’s all about the detail. Being an actor and a writer kind of goes hand in hand, really.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I suppose Shakespeare is one. I’ve been learning, reciting and reading his work since I began working on stage. I also love the lyrical quality of the books of Thomas Hardy, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and the colour with which D H Lawrence peppers his stories.
I started reading Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie as a teenager and they must figure in this list somewhere as I often revisit their stories whenever I can.
I studied William Golding at school and I’m now the proud owner of all of his books which I like to re-read from time to time.
Lastly, my earliest influences were the brothers Grimm, Hans Anderson, Perrault and Poe.
Messandriere is available in print and digitally.
You can find Angela’s books at:
You can find Angela at:
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren