Tuesday, September 20, 2016

**GIVEAWAY** The Confectioner's Tale - Interview - Laura Madeleine

Today I'm excited to bring you an interview with Laura Madeleine about her debut released today, The Confectioner's Tale. Do you know what being the resident baker for Domestic Sluttery is all about, well that's one of the hats that Laura has worn and will tell us about.
After our conversation you can enter to win a copy for yourself!
Contest details below!

ISBN-13: 9781250100542
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 09-20-2016
Length: 336pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound/Publisher

"A delightful, delicious must-read." --Nina George, New York Times bestselling author
A sensual tale, set in Paris, of love against all odds, family secrets, and the art of confectionery.
At the famous Patisserie Clermont, a chance encounter with the owner's daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air. But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.
Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words “Forgive me.” Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.
A literary mystery and love story, The Confectioner’s Tale is as pleasurable as the finest French patisserie.

Giveaway is for One Print Copy US ONLY
Of The Confectioner's Tale
Please use Rafflecopter form below to enter
Thanks St. Martin's Press
Good Luck!

Read an excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press:

Chapter One

Cambridge, March 1988

I burst through the gates of King’s College just as the chapel bells mark the hour. I’m late, and of all the appointments I could be late for, this is the worst.

A group of anorak-wearing tourists are blocking the road. I weave through them, checking my watch. I had hoped to arrive in plenty of time, to find an inconspicuous seat at the back of the room, not to barge through the doors sweaty and dishevelled.

I take the courtyard at a run and a set of damp stone stairs two at a time. My reflection flashes past in a window: rain-soaked, ratty blond fringe dripping into my eyes. I push it back and hurry towards a pair of huge oak doors.

15th March, 11.00 a.m., reads a piece of paper tacked to the noticeboard outside:Unmasking a Legend: biographer Simon Hall on the late historian, author and critic J. G. Stevenson.

I quickly rearrange the scowl that has risen to my face into a grimace of apology at the woman minding the entrance. She sniffs disapprovingly but lets me pass. Bracing myself, I ease open the heavy door. The room is packed; students and academics alike are crammed into chairs, their breath fogging up the windows. Despite my efforts, the door creaks loudly on its hinges, and the man on the podium falters, looking my way. I keep my head lowered and edge along the back row to a spare seat.

‘As I was saying,’ the speaker continues, ‘we all know what happens when a well-known person dies: they get an obituary in The Times, a new commemorative volume of work and retrospectives in journals left, right and centre.’

Some of the younger members of the audience titter, eager to show their appreciation for the lecturer’s off-hand manner.

I eye him carefully. Simon Hall, the current darling of the history scene. Whenever comment is needed, on the radio or in newspaper articles, there he is. He’s not as young as his pictures suggest, I decide. True, his curly hair and open face make him look youthful, but there are creases at the corners of his eyes and the hint of a paunch developing. I slump down a little further in my seat and try to pay attention.

‘There is nothing wrong with paying homage to a great,’ he says, ‘and no one can deny that J. G. Stevenson was a talented historian. But how much do we truly know about him? Who was the man behind the books?’

He pauses for effect, looks around the room.

‘As a biographer, it is my job to answer these questions, and that means delving into a person’s past, discovering the things they might have preferred to keep to themselves. And, ladies and gentlemen, what I have discovered is that J. G. Stevenson was no saint.’

He leans forward on the lectern, intent, inviting every person there into his confidence.

‘Recently, I was granted access to Stevenson’s private correspondence, and there I found a letter. Written to him when he was a young man in Paris, it places him firmly at the centre of a scandal, one that he kept hidden even from his own family. I will discover the truth behind this mystery, and show you all the real J. G. Stevenson.’

When it is time for questions, I fidget and try to keep my arm wedged by my side, even though I’m simmering with anger. I listen to inane comments and sharp words, until finally, at the very end, I can’t stop my hand from shooting into the air.

‘I’m rather afraid we have no more time,’ the academic in charge of the event tells me. ‘Perhaps you could—’

‘So, it’s your intention to vilify a man just to be fashionable?’ I challenge Hall. ‘Or are you taking liberties with the dead, digging through private possessions in order to get more publicity?’

A hundred plastic chairs creak as people turn to look. I feel myself flush under their scrutiny, but keep my eyes fixed on Hall. He is smiling in a puzzled way as he peers through the crowd.

‘A bold question, Miss…?’


A volley of whispers sweeps the audience. The academic on stage is leaning forward to whisper something in Hall’s ear. I see the shape of my name on his lips and fight to keep my expression neutral. Hall, meanwhile, is surveying me with newfound interest.

‘I understand your indignation, Miss Stevenson, but you can’t deny your grandfather had his secrets.’

Laura welcome to The Reading Frenzy. Your debut The Confectioner’s Tale looks fantastic.
Tell my readers a little about it.
Hello, and thanks for hosting me! It’s very exciting to be able to talk about the US publication of The Confectioner’s Tale (or TCT, as it’s affectionately known).
Here’s a brief idea of the story: At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air. But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic at Cambridge discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal…
The story spans Paris of the Belle Époque in all its grandeur and grime, from the wild Left Bank to the slums of Belleville, from the grand boulevards of the Opera District to the railway yards of the 13th arrondissement. It’s also partly set in the fascinating, old, university town of Cambridge, UK, where I went to college.

I know that you’re also a baker and were in fact the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery.
I’m really curious, what is Domestic Sluttery?
Ha ha, whenever I say that name I usually end up getting strange looks! Domestic Sluttery was a cult lifestyle blog that was popular in the UK. It was essentially a lifestyle blog for people too busy to read lifestyle blogs! As a result, it covered everything from food and drink to travel, fashion and generally awesome things (dinosaur rolling pins, cartoon bags, 3D unicorn cookies… the list goes on). I wrote a weekly column called “Let Them Eat Cake” where I had to come up with a weird and wonderful original cake recipe every week. It was so much fun, and really pushed me to get creative with baking. My most popular recipes usually involved booze of some sort; Gin & Tonic Cake, Pimms Cake, Hazelnut Cake with a Blackberry Sloe Gin Glaze… but I also riffed on other flavours like Pink Lemonade, Lemon Sherbert, Orange Blossom & Honey, Lavender & Vanilla, even Marmite! Although Domestic Sluttery is no longer running, the site remains up as an archive at www.domesticlsuttery.com. You can find all my cake recipes (plus some more besides!) there, or on my tumblr.

Are there recipes in the novel?
I actually created a special recipe to go with the book. A St Germain Cake; named after the area on the Parisian Left Bank that – in its heyday – harboured artists, philosophers, bakers, jazz musicians, writers and the oldest food market in the city. It uses St Germain, an elderflower liqueur that comes in a gorgeous Belle Époque-style bottle, raspberries and almonds: I wanted it to be as sweet and heady as Guillaume’s first spring in Paris – that’s the idea anyway!

Laura your sister, Lucy Hounsom is also an author, although she writes fantasy.
Do you critique each other’s work?
Lucy is always the first person I call when I get stuck with writing; I know she’ll understand where I’m coming from, and usually, by the time I’ve told her the problem, and she’s asked a few questions, it has sorted itself out. I do the same for her. We always read first drafts of each other’s work too; in fact, I’d feel a bit odd sending work off to an editor unless Lucy has read and commented on at least a bit of it! We’re quite different in many ways, but extremely close.

Do you think your performing in the past has helped you in your writing career too?
I have no idea! Sorry, that’s a bit of a cop-out… I think perhaps it helped from a character standpoint; characters are very much my focus in a text, over and above plot, most of the time. I try to get inside a character’s head, understand their thought processes, what has formed their opinions, why they might act irrationally or spontaneously. Usually if a scene isn’t working, it’s because I’m trying to wedge a character into a situation that just isn’t them. In that way, it’s perhaps similar to acting. To be honest, though, I think what helped most was the type of ambition that was fostered at my school (which was a performing arts school). People there had very clear ideas about what they wanted to be and do: actor, singer, dancer, director. And so, when I realized I wanted to be a writer, I approached it with the same sort of gung ho attitude. I was pretty naïve about the whole thing, but fortunately for me, it paid off in the end!

The Confectioner’s Tale was previously published in Europe in 2015.
What took it so long to cross the pond?
The world of international publishing is a dark and mysterious place: I’m not sure! But safe to say I’m absolutely delighted that it has. And I couldn’t have asked for a nicer publishing team to work with than the folk at St. Martin’s Press.

Do you have a book two in the works and can you tell us anything about it?
I have indeed! It’s finished actually, and tentatively scheduled for release in the UK in Spring 2017. It’s similar to The Confectioner’s Tale in that it’s a split-narrative, this time alternating between 1919 and 1969. It ranges from the lonely wilds of the English countryside to the feverish heat of French Catalonia, to the bustle and energy of London and Paris in the late ‘60s. Rather than the cool refinement of Paris patisseries, this time expect the passionate, sun-drenched flavours of Catalonia: fragrant juniper and thyme from the mountains, fiery crimson paprika, almonds and sweet wine and wild cherries. Plus, of course, family secrets, a journey and a love story…

Laura thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
Good luck with the novel.
Will you be crossing the pond for any touring for the novel?
It was my pleasure! Thank you for being my first US-based blog interview. J No plans as yet, though I will of course shout if that changes. But you can find me online; I’m always thrilled to hear from readers!

 Connect with Laura - Website  - Twitter

MEET Laura:
After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom. You can find her on twitter @esthercrumpet.
Laura is represented by the effervescent Ed Wilson atJohnson & Alcock. Please contact him with any queries.

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  1. This novel sounds captivating and wonderful. Thanks for this great giveaway.

  2. Isn't that the truth, international publishing is mysterious. Most likely this came out here last year too, so should be accessible to me. I am sure its delicious!!

    1. Yes I agree especially with the world so small now bc of internet I think publishing should be too!

  3. I love this cover and this looks so good!

  4. Ooo, this looks yummy! All the talk of cream and chocolate has my tummy rumbling!

  5. Oh a new cake every week? That sounds amazing! Noms! Looks like a lovely read, Debbie!

  6. Looks terrific. Thanks for the chance to win.