Monday, August 13, 2007

CAFE DU JOUR

I can't actually remember the first time I met Lilian Darcy.

It was certainly in America. Washington or Denver, at one of those terrific Mills & Boon pizza parties that have become a legendary part of the Wednesday night of the RWA conferences when, after the literacy book signing, colleagues from all over the world gather, usually in Sandra Marton's room, for pizza and gossip.

I do remember her in Denver, though. Harlequin threw a rock n' party with an "Elvis" singer and Lilian grabbed me and said "let's dance" and golly, did we dance!

Today, in Australia, Lilian is launching her "book of the heart", a single title called CAFE DU JOUR, published by MIRA, and I wish, more than anything, that I could be there with her to celebrate its publication, but since that isn't possible, I'm doing the next best thing and having my own personal launch here on my blog.

Here's Lilian herself to tell you about her book: --

One of the things I love about Liz's books is the quality of the writing. It makes her characters and scenes so real you feel as if you could reach out and touch them. There's a gorgeous moment in one of her books when the hero curls the heroine's hair around his finger and tells her that he's the envy of every man in the room because of her, and it makes your skin tingle when you read it. As part of his support of my writing career, my husband has read quite a number of romances, and when he read this scene of Liz's he stabbed his finger at the page, flourished the book in the air, and told me, "See? Now, that's good writing!"

(This is supposed to be about your book, Lilian!)

There's a lot of good writing in popular women's fiction, actually, which is why it frustrates me that we get so little positive attention in the media. If you're just a regular reader who reads whatever she wants to and browses a whole variety of racks in the bookstore you may not realise this, but there's a huge gulf between literary fiction writers and popular fiction writers, and I really wish it wasn't there. I think there's a fertile middle ground where the two groups could connect and learn from each other and in the process produce books that give the warm, powerful and pacy stories that romance readers love as well as the richness of some deeper themes and observations that we sometimes don't have space for in romance.

In celebration of this middle ground, and of bridging the gap between literary and popular fiction, I'm thrilled that my upcoming novel "Café du Jour" is going to be launched by one of Australia's best-known literary fiction writers, Roger McDonald. He won the Miles Franklin Award in 2006 for his novel "The Ballad of Desmond Kale" which is full of his usual rich, tumbling language and cavalcade of characters that somehow manage to be exotic yet quintessenetially Australian at the same time. (Hm. I suppose Australian *is* exotic to many people!)

"Café du Jour" itself falls into the middle ground between popular and literary fiction, I think, with its mix of sadness and quirkiness, happy endings and unfinished journeys. It was originally slated for publication by another publisher and was given to Roger for editing. His valuable insights provided the basis for the next draft, but then the publisher closed up the imprint and the book went homeless for years. Several more major drafts later, it is finally coming out, and because of its long incubation it is a book that remains particularly close to my heart, and is different in many ways from anything I've published before.

On that note - being different - I'd like to challenge all of Liz's blog readers to try something different in your reading this month. Yes, we all love to turn to our favourite authors for time out or stress relief or guilty pleasure or inspiration, but there are so many writers out there whom we don't take the time to discover. If you're up for a reading adventure, go into a bookstore and try something new. Choose a book on the strength of a cover that grabs you by the collar as soon as you look at it, or on the strength of the author's unusual name. Choose a book because you've never bought one from that rack before, or pick a random colour and buy the first book of that colour that you see. Close your eyes and just reach out to the shelf. Okay, I'll let you have a few trial runs at this. You're allowed to read the back cover blurb or the first page and put it back if it sounds really awful!

Yes, there are some really awful books out there. They're scattered all over the bookstore, masquerading behind great covers, famous names, rave reviews. And the books that I might think are awful, you might think are great. Ultimately, the thing I most want to celebrate is that, whether we're writers or readers, there is room for all of us.

If you'd like to make "Café du Jour" your different read this month, order here

In the meantime, here's a chance to win a signed copy of the book and a "Café du Jour" t-shirt. You'll find more about the book at my website and and excerpt here. To win the book and t-shirt just email me at lilian@liliandarcy.com with CAFE DU JOUR COMPETITION in the subject line and tell me the name of Julie’s son, and whether you think he’s going to be good or bad for Susie. You've got until the end of the month!


8 comments:

Merri said...

Thank you Liz for bring another intriguing topic, book and author to our attention! I loved Elizabeth Oldfield's Vintage Babes and I am so happy you take the time to let your readers know about great books we might miss. Sounds like your Denver party was a blast. I live near Denver now but I definitely missed that one.

Nicola Marsh said...

Great interview with Lillian, Liz.

I was lucky enough to grab a copy off the shelves today!

Anne McAllister said...

Sounds fab, Lilian. I will be keeping an eye out for it. Thanks for the head's up, Liz.

Kate Hardy said...

I persuaded one of my Aussie mates to get me a signed copy of this one at the recent conf - because as soon as Lilian told me about this one I really, really wanted to read it.

And as she's one of my fellow Med authors and a friend - well, it just HAD to be signed.

HollyJacobs said...

Liz, You have the coolest friends!

Lilian, The book sounds lovely!

Holly

Donna Alward said...

Lillian that was a lovely lovely post.

Your challenge might just inspire me to go pick up Suite Francaise. I've looked at that cover for MONTHS and haven't picked it up yet. It is so evocative!

Your book looks great...and seeing as it's my birthday, perhaps it's time for me to expand my reading budget....lol.

Barb said...

Congratulations, Lilian! I can't wait to read Cafe d J.
After the Australian conference, my TBR pile is stacked with books and includes some I wouldn't normally choose. Am reading Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesan at the moment -- quite a departure from a sweet romance. Your autographed book (lucky me) is next on my list.

lilian d said...

Donna, I'm reading Suite Francaise right now! Not all that far in, and am still keeping track of the multiple characters but it's really good and I think it's going to sweep me away.

Sorry, I'm a bit late posting this, have been fighting flu (think I'm winning).