Writers On Reading: Canadian Author Francis Guenette Talks All Things Books

Latest stop on the blog tour – the dates are winding down now folks, so get those comments in to get more chances to win an autographed, softcover copy of The Light Never Lies delivered by mail to your doorstep or local post office. Pamela Cook over on the Flying Pony Blog has put together some great interview questions – find out what I think of all things reading related. Writer as reader – makes for an interesting interview.

Flying Pony

Today’s Writers On Reading Blog Interview is with Canadian author Francis Guernette. Francis has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher.

The Light Never Lies is her second novel.

Francis Guenette - author photo

Francis has the most amazing view from her deck which obviously inspires her writing.

Guenette - Lake view from our deck

The Light Never Lies - ebook cover - Francis L. Guenette

As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma…

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Tess of Portelet Manor–Location, Location, Location.

Cover of Tess


I’m an long-time follower of  Back on the Rock, Roy McCarthy’s blog. Seeing his posts pop up in the WordPress reader, his icon on my like bar or accompanying a thoughtful comment has become part of my blog world. I read Roy’s book, Tess of Portelet Manor, last year and when I had the idea for this location series, I knew that Roy would be a great guest. His novel simply drips with Jersey location.




Take it away, Roy.

Portelet Bay2

Jersey, lying in the bay of St Malo within sight of France but belonging to the English crown, is a fortunate isle. Sloping gently north to south it is regaled by our unofficial national anthem as ‘Beautiful Jersey, gem of the sea.’

Today it is a busy, cosmopolitan place with the problems that come with being a relatively prosperous community on a finite land mass. Finance is the mainstay of the economy, but this wasn’t always the case.

Come with me to the west of the Island and imagine you have stepped back 80 years in time. It’s not so very hard to do. The golden beaches where Tess used to walk with her best friend Lucille, collecting shells for her mirror frames and the places she courted Robin are still there.

You may still climb the steps cut into the cliff and find yourself on lonely Portelet Common, a myriad of colour during summer, wild and swept by wind and wave in the winter. Find yourself there on a misty day and you may see Tess’s cottage. I saw it. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

Railway Walk

Walk the few gentle miles along the Railway Walk from Corbière to St Aubin, the breeze playing in the pines. Close your eyes and visualise the steam trains that were once part of everyday life.

German troops arrive in 1940


Watch now in horror with Tess as her beloved island is captured and overrun by soldiers of the Third Reich. They come in their thousands to build the Atlantic Wall, tearing up coastline and countryside, leaving their ugly handiwork as a monument to naked greed and ambition. For five long years the islanders can only accept their fate and give thanks that it wasn’t worse.




Rejoice now with Tess and her friends as the Allies liberate the Island and the people are left to rebuild their little corner of the world. But it is impossible to destroy all that concrete, those ever-present reminders of a cruel occupation.

How easy it is to write a story of Tess and her times. And how emotional to be able to give a reading from that story, deep in the German Command Bunker at Noirmont Point, during the 2013 Liberation celebrations.

Thanks, Roy.

Roy has written a number of interesting posts about the island of Jersey and his endearing character, Tess. Here are links to just a few.

An interview with Tess

An early autumn stroll around the island of Jersey

The final liberation of the Channel Islands.

My Book Review: Tess of Portelet Manor

Tess, the main character of McCarthy’s novel, is a woman with an abundance of grace and courage in the face of adversity.

The author takes the reader on a journey through a period of history that would test the most stalwart. A young woman named Tess comes to realize her true measure as she faces up to the challenges of being on her own, on the island of Jersey, during the German occupied years of World War II.

The book has a distinctive feel. Almost as if McCarthy had access to Tess’ journals and then sat down to retell her story. This becomes evident in the multitude of details given. The reader is easily able to imagine Tess’ life and empathize with all the ups and downs, both small and large. McCarthy writes Tess as a woman most people would love to know – selfless in a way that is admirable, but not unaffected by her own flaws.

The Jersey landscape is lovingly described. Anyone who reads this book will want to travel there someday. For those readers too young to know anything of the deprivations of the War years, the book will leave them wondering – what on earth would I have done in such a situation? And for those needing inspiration to get through tough times, Tess’ grace and courage in the face of adversity provides an admirable model.


The latest stop on the blog tour – an author interview on What has been Read Cannot be Unread. So true. Find out if I’ve ever seen a UFO and other interesting tidbits of information. Get your comments on the post for another chance to win an autographed copy of The Light Never Lies.

What Has Been Read Cannot Be Unread

Francis Guenette - author photo No, this gorgeous person is not me. I am not nearly that good looking or that young. Sigh.

This is a photo of  Francis Guenette, author of some great books, one of which I reviewed here,  The Light Never Lies.

She was kind enough to agree to an interview with me.   Brave soul,  since I haven’t a clue as to what I am doing.  I am not a professional interviewer.  I am just nosy.   So I ask questions to which I really want to know the answers.

Marti:     I admit it. I have the kind of admiration for writers that teen girls have for rock bands. I think it is because I cannot write fiction. I have no stories in me. You obviously have glorious stories in you. Have you always had these stories inside you screaming to get out?

Francis Guenette:  I’ve always had a very…

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Easter Weekend and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classic Chinese Garden


We managed a mini-vacation day in the city of Vancouver during the fast-paced Easter weekend and found ourselves wandering through the first classical Chinese garden constructed outside of China. It is modeled after private classical gardens in the city of Suzhou during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). Although not large, the garden presents a constantly changing series of vistas. You have only to turn your head or the angle of your body and everything is viewed anew.


Located in the midst of Vancouver’s Chinatown, the garden is an experience of balance. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is an example of a secluded, urban garden-home where landscape masterpieces embody the best of Chinese arts, gardening, philosophy and architecture.

Four main elements dominate – buildings represent the human element, rocks symbolize rugged landscapes and sculptural elements, water creates a tranquil atmosphere in which to reflect all the other elements and plants represent nature.


I was drawn over and over to the magnolias dropping their heavy pink blossoms into the cloudy, jade-green water, reflected back to me in rippling movement, the wooden window enclosures – everyone different in design, leaking in air, breeze, light and the scenery from beyond, the intricate stonework in the courtyard where pebbles and rock are turned into art and the Tai Hu Rocks – fantastically shaped stone that changes with the light and angle of viewing.



Thanks for letting me share some photos of this beautiful garden tucked into the city. I wish all of you a wonderful Easter long weekend and ask your indulgence to share a link to the latest guest post on my blog tour. I was honoured to be able to appear on Gemma Hawdon’s blog – Top of the Slush Pile to do a guest post on how self-publishing feels the second time around.




The Value of Courage – “42” A Movie about Jackie Robinson

I’ve brought my 200th post back in honour of April 15th – Jackie Robinson Day. A big shout out to all who struggle for acceptance against ignorance and bigotry. To paraphrase Margaret Mead – never doubt that one person can make a difference. It’s the only thing that ever has.


Jackie Robinson - Pasedena CA - throughtheluminarylens

The value of courage, my 200th post, the last day of 2013, baseball and a little taste from my upcoming novel – I have an eclectic mix of thoughts to share today.

When my kids were little, we had a set of books entitled, The Value Tales. These books featured people whose achievements fit the criteria of many important values – Believing in Yourself: Louis Pasteur, Helping: Harriet Tubman, Determination: Helen Keller, Kindness: Elizabeth Fry, Giving: Beethoven and many others. The book that was requested the most in our home was, The Value of Courage – The Story of Jackie Robinson.

Over the holidays, my husband Bruce and I had the opportunity to watch the movie “42” – The Jackie Robinson story. For the baseball lover, “42” is right up there with, The Natural and Field of Dreams.

That children’s book from long ago came to life…

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An interview and opportunity to win a signed copy from Francis Guenette

Hope you have a chance to check out this interview I did over on Readful Things Blog. Find out what I’d ask J.K. Rowlings, if I ever had the chance. Many thanks to Ionia for the great questions and a well-done presentation.

readful things blog

The Light Never Lies - ebook cover - Francis L. Guenette Francis Guenette - author photo


As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the…

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Location, Location, Location: Silk for the Feed Dogs by Jackie Mallon

SILK2x2700Silk for the Feed Dogs, by Jackie Mallon  simply blew me away and I’ve been waiting with bated breath to be able to share Jackie’s guest post and my review of her book. Let’s get things underway with a short bio.

Jackie Mallon is an Irish writer and fashion designer living in New York. After studying at London’s St Martins School, she worked in the world of high fashion in Milan for eight years, stockpiling stories for the novel she didn’t know she was gearing up to write. Jackie is a trained Irish dancer, a secret calligraphist, and needlework enthusiast. She enjoys sketching trees and rainy weather – not necessarily at the same time – and running marathons. She learnt Italian from reading Harry Potter with a dictionary on her daily tram commutes in Milan. She was once a dreadlocked petrol pump attendant and lived above a South London pub frequented by Cockney gangsters.


Take it away, Jackie.



Milan is always hidden behind a veil. Even in the height of summer when the sun is at its brightest, her features are swathed in something resembling mesh. As Italy’s biggest industrial city, it’s also the most heavily polluted. Streets are quaint and narrow but throbbing with vehicles roaring their diesel engines, spewing fumes, and vying for position while mopeds play chicken with well-dressed pedestrians.




Her buildings are spice-colored––mustard, saffron, paprika, garlic and ginger––but smeared with vibrant turquoise or lime green graffiti. The streets are cobbled just like in ancient times but the cracks are grouted with cigarette butts.

Scan 3

The canal area where I lived is as pretty as any Amsterdam equivalent but the water is scummy and a rusty bike protrudes briefly from the surface. In the Porta Venezia neighbourhood, a ratty double door with a single bar latch and in need of a coat of paint staggers open and a trim, expensively attired woman with thick chestnut hair exits sliding her sunglasses onto her nose. Before the doors meet again with an indecisive click, we are provided with a glimpse of the leafy courtyard within. There, stalking between the stone fountains against the dense foliage, as breathtaking as a finale of models on the catwalks of fashion week, is a pageant of flamingos. Long-necked, twig-legged, haughty as international covergirls, they are unapologetic about sporting fuchsia at teatime.

This is the Milan I know and crave. Contradictory, effusive yet unforthcoming, confusing to strangers, capricious. It’s been eight years since I left but my head still teems with the sights, sounds and smells of her. For a decade I designed clothes for some of the biggest names in Italian fashion. After, in desperate need of a receptacle to deposit my stories, I wrote my novel Silk for the Feed Dogs and was able to revisit her in my imagination every day for three years. As I typed I heard the emptied espresso cup striking its saucer; I sidestepped the sunbaked pretzel-shaped dog poop in the doorway of the museum containing Canalettos and Caravaggios; I lapped at the gelato alla stracciatella; my ears protested the shriek of tram wheels; my tongue reacquainted itself with florid curse words…


The fashion industry is a natural stage for theatrics, Italy the home of the commedia dell’arte. But I wanted to avoid the glib, superficial tone female novelists always adopt for the worlds of glamour and beauty. I wanted my story to be humorous but poignant, and as layered as Milan herself. There is nothing one-dimensional about her. She is one complicated dame. Her flaking stable doors open to reveal gilded and majestic high-ceilinged palazzi. She doesn’t care if you walk by, oblivious to her unsignposted charms.


Scan 6Her masterpiece is the Italian fashion industry, glittering and glamorous, but home to as much hierarchical scheming as the court of King Henry VIII. She keeps a pride of artisans sequestered away in hillside laboratories assembling skins of calf and snake by hand, their process shrouded in mystery, yet she permits daily public spectacles in the piazza during which the anatomies of passing females are picked apart by packs of slavering men. Milan considers a handbag a precious thing but a woman a plaything.



Quite the character, she refuses to pose for photos and will not be summed up in tourist friendly clichés. She is not Florence or Venice where the sun is brighter. In Silk for the Feed Dogs, I aimed to strip her of her veil and present her, flaws and all.

I think she liked it.



Five-Star Review for Jackie Mallon’s, Silk for the Feed Dogs

Let’s start with a salute to a brilliant title. Feed dogs are the mechanical part of a sewing machine that feeds the fabric through and under the needle. The word silk says everything anyone would ever need to say about the pure sensuousness of fabric, hinting at so much more. And thus it is with Jackie Mallon’s book – we are fed through an amazing story like a piece of fabric through a sewing machine.

The story plunges the reader into the world of high fashion, careening around the cobbled streets of Milan, from the sacred halls of the Fashion Houses, to the bursting with life neighbourhoods and the pulse-pounding nightlife. Most of us, like Kat’s hapless Italian teacher, are, “as far removed as you can get from the world where she-wolves and lionesses fought over handbags.” And yet, because Kat is our guide we find our way.

We follow Katherine (Kat for short) Connelly as she weathers a shattering failure to conform to the norms of St. Martin’s Fashion School in London, to work with the eccentric and psychotic rip-off designer Lynda Wynter, to the glitzy and surreal Intermezzo Fashion House in Milan run by the constantly wreathed in cigarette smoke, Rosalba and finally to the hallowed halls of the House of Adriani. Kat, the daughter of an Irish farmer-father and a seamstress-mother who specializes in curtain making, is as much an outsider to these worlds as the average reader. “I was the pretender; the hick who had rolled into town in stolen Chanel and deceived everyone.” Kat can’t help but shine a different lens on the world of fashion she has plunged head first into.

In Silk for the Feed Dogs, the reader will find the perfect mix of breath-taking action, fast-paced dialogue, come-alive settings and characters you’ll meet only once in a life-time. Mallon renders each and every location with a confident and seemingly effortless use of description that never bogs the story down. Her characters jump off the pages. One attractive Italian has “the head of a devil and the air of a shipwreck.” Her nemesis employer, Lynda Wynter has, “ratty highlighted hair, the mistreated coat with this season’s shoes, all accessorized with her unique air of vagrancy.” Her words are fresh, providing more than a few aha moments in which the reader sees exactly what is being described.

The thread of Kat’s farm background weaves through everything. It has shaped who she is and how she thinks. A co-worker has a face that is, “small and pretty, as pale as a bowl of fresh goat’s milk.” Kat’s first taxi drive through Milan consists of, “zipping around sharp corners of handsome buildings, like a beast pulled up short by an invisible electric fence.”

Scan 2The author makes no bones about showing us the toll exacted from those living at the higher altitudes of fashion, breathing the rarefied air of The House of Adriani – run by a designer of mythic proportions. “When Signor Adriani provided the rage, the building’s acoustics provided the transport.” Enough said.

Of all the well-drawn secondary characters, my favourite was Silvia– the aging, voluminous of body, head of the technical department who has spent her life worshipping the ground Signor Adriani – her Il Maestro – walks, while he abhors and ignores her. She was once fashion-model thin and glamorous but that is the past. “The difference in the Before and After was the stuff of fables. It was the result of eating the poisoned apple, A Brothers Grimm tale of spinning and pinning fabric into gorgeous gowns for a thankless old king until, one day, you wake to find you have spun your life away in the weave of those frocks.” With this author we are never far from the sewing metaphors. The working relationship Kat develops with Silvia is filled with moments of heart-wrenching pathos that never tip into the maudlin.

The fact that Kat comes at the world of fashion on her own terms and has the strength to steer true and clear through the often turbulent waters, makes her an endearing protagonist. She fights the moral battles that matter, so that even the most fashionably challenged of us can identify with her struggles and feel triumphant as we come to the book’s conclusion. Silk for the Feed Dogs is a stellar accomplishment – get it, read it, you won’t regret the indulgence of silk against your skin.

Scan 16

Thank you Jackie for this fabulous guest piece and the wonderful photos to go along with it.

You can pop over to Amazon by following the link to purchase Silk for the Feed Dogs. Just click here!

Book Promotion or Monument to Self-Indulgence? You Decide.

The Light Never Lies at Jerry Sulla Park

The photo challenge this week is Monument. All kinds of word pairings popped into my head – Monument to Stupidity, Monument to Arrogance, Monument to Self-Indulgence. Let me linger for a moment on that last one. (Leave aside the fact that I can’t link the word monument with anything positive.)

Lately, I sense my blog tipping towards the above title. Blogging is definitely supposed to be about more than me tooting the one note song – look, look, my new book is out, look, look, my new book is out . . . the whole thing does have a nice ring to it but, of course, that’s not the point.

When I first started blogging I followed someone who was on the verge of self-publishing a first novel. I valued this blog because the blogger wrote not only about the process of getting a book out, but also about writing related activities. A life was shared on that blog. Then the book came out. Bang – the whole tone of the blog changed. It was all about buy my book. Every single post – no relief in sight. I gave the benefit of the doubt and hung around for about three months but the blog never returned to the interesting pre-self-published status. So, I quietly unfollowed and drifted away.

I understand that blogger’s dilemma better now, for sure. With two books out, reviews coming in and a blog tour wending its way through cyberspace there are lots of things for me to go on about when it comes to my new book. But I’m getting bored of it myself so can only imagine how others might feel.

DSC_0446Last night I did my last scheduled public appearance to promote the launch of The Light Never Lies. A lively book reading, meet and greet at the Port Alice Library. It was wonderful and at the same time, I’m so relieved to put that part of promotion behind me for the upcoming future.

I can’t promise that I won’t still be shouting out links to great posts about my book or re-blogging posts from the tour. I owe it to my hosts to give something back and if that means generating more traffic for their blogs via this site, I’ll just have to toot away on the horn a few more times. The beauty of putting this tour together myself was being able to appear on blogs I really love. Of course, I want to share those stops.

While that vein is open – pop over and take a look at the great way Gaele Hince at I Am Indeed puts together a book review. A whole promotion package all tied up with a bow. She’s a pro and well deserves her status as a top Amazon reviewer.

On other fronts, watch out for more posts on the location, location, location series – I’ve got a few great ones lined up. I’ve also got a post on the go to promote a book review blog I’ve been following. You can expect more reflection on the self-publishing journey as the dust of launching and promotion settles. And of course, grandmother updates, garden talks and wine out on the cliff deck.

Pete the Cat

As Pete the Cat would say – Groovy Man. It’s all good. Credit  to playrific.com for this image. If my granddaughter Emma were here she could have drawn Pete for me. We’re all crazy about Pete the Cat.


Pete the Cat by Emma

Book review – The Light Never Lies, Francis Guenette

Latest 5-Star Review for The Light Never Lies and yet another stop on my blog tour. Half-way through now, folks 🙂 I’ve been following Roy McCarthy’s blog, Back on the Rock, for some time. Loved his novel – Tess of Portelet Manor. You won’t go wrong by popping over and reading more of Roy’s stuff.

Back On The Rock

Francis Geunette did it again. It isn’t easy to emulate an impressive debut novel, but Guenette manages it very well simply by building on the same formula.

It is certainly advisable to have read Disappearing In Plain Sight as the residents of Crater Lake are reintroduced to the reader several months on. The often-complex relationships between the characters are the strength of these stories, and in one or two cases these have moved on. Izzy and Liam are now a firm item whereas the intriguing Beulah/Bethany relationship is showing signs of fracture.

We were left wondering what would become of young Lisa-Marie. We soon find out as she rocks up again at the remote Crater Lake location pregnant with Liam’s child. Well, I’ve never known the arrival of a baby have such a huge knock-on effect on a community. Major drama which involves Lisa-Marie’s aunt Bethany, Liam of course, Lisa’s sort-of…

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