Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Jacquie Bloese, author of The French House

9 December 2022

Special Guest Interview with Jacquie Bloese, author of The French House

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

In Nazi-occupied Guernsey, the wrong decision can destroy a life...

Left profoundly deaf after an accident, Émile is no stranger to isolation - or heartbreak. Now, as Nazi planes loom over Guernsey, he senses life is about to change forever. Trapped in a tense, fearful marriage, Isabelle doesn't know what has become of Émile and the future she hoped for. But when she glimpses him from the window of the French House, their lives collide once more.

I'm pleased to welcome author Jacquie Bloese to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The French House is set on Guernsey, during the German Occupation of World War 2, and it’s about two estranged lovers: Émile, who lost his hearing in a tragic accident, and Isabelle. Both unhappily married to other people, the German invasion throws Émile and Isabelle together again, through their work at the ‘French House’ – Victor Hugo’s former residence-in-exile. And as their lives become enmeshed with that of the enigmatic German press censor, Schreiber, loyalties are blurred and dangerous secrets form ...

What is your preferred writing routine?

I like to devote quality time to writing – and thinking, which is such a crucial part of the process - rather than writing in snatched moments. On a day where I’m writing, I’m at my freshest and most productive in the mornings, then I’ll break for lunch, and go back to it in the afternoon – I find changing locations helps, so I can often be found in the local library! I find Sundays a good time to really get stuck in too.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Build resilience – it’s a tough industry and everyone, both published and unpublished, experiences knockbacks along the way. Seek out other writers who you feel comfortable sharing your work with and whose opinions you trust. Establish a routine. Take classes, either online or in person. Don’t give up, even if it feels tempting. And … make sure you finish!

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I’ve actually found word-of-mouth through friends, family and colleagues very helpful – occasionally I post on LinkedIn and these posts always seem to gain far more traction than anything on Twitter or Instagram!

My advice to debut authors, like myself, would be to be pro-active in terms of publicity. Be bold and pitch yourself to local literary festivals, local radio etc. It all helps and importantly, it gives you as the author a feeling of agency.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

It wasn’t uncommon for German soldiers who had been billeted with Guernsey families to strike up friendships, and return for holidays when the war was over. And how living in a time of extreme uncertainty was just as psychologically distressing as food shortages and loss of freedom.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

It was probably the prologue as it’s based on real events, endured by my great-grandfather. It re-tells the story of how he fell down an unlit elevator shaft, as a very young man, newly arrived in Canada – an accident which resulted in permanent hearing loss.

What are you planning to write next?

My next novel, The Golden Hour, is set against the backdrop of the underground trade in erotic photography in late Victorian Brighton, and is about three women from different classes, all fighting against their constraints of their circumstances. But in their quest for freedom, have the women become more trapped than ever?

Jacquie Bloese 
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About the Author

Jacquie Bloese grew up on the Channel Island of Guernsey, an upbringing which provided lots of inspiration for her debut novel, The French House. Her interest in travel, languages and other cultures led to a career in ELT publishing, a job which has taken her in and out of classrooms all over the world. Writing fiction is her first love and her work has been shortlisted for the Good Housekeeping First Novel Award, Caledonia Novel Award, and the Mslexia Novel Award. The French House is a Richard and Judy December book club pick. After many years in London, Jacquie now lives in Brighton, with her partner. Find out more at her website and find Jacquie on Facebook and Twitter @novelthesecond

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