Saturday, August 20, 2011

cafe du jour

Today I'm celebrating the Kindle publication of CAFE DU JOUR, a book that I featured on my blog a couple of years ago. It was originally published by Mira's Australian office and the paper version didn't make it to the US or UK, which considering Lillian hasn't written more than 100 books and has a world-wide fan base, seems a little short-sighted. (I had my copy sent from Australia!)

Now, however, thanks to the wonders of the digital age, Cafe Du Jour is an eBook and you can read wherever you are.

The is from my original blog...

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: -

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.


Amen to that, Lillian!


Marlena Cassidy said...

I agree with Lilian that there's a huge gap between popular fiction and literary fiction, and I'm glad that she's managed to bridge the gap with a book that's obviously loved and well thought out. And now that it's released as an eBook, expect me to grab a copy as soon as I'm able. Congrats Lilian, on your awesomeness.

Kate Hardy said...

Oh, I'm so pleased that it's on Kindle now :o) I really enjoyed it. (My paper copy also came from Aus - lovely Carol Marinelli was over for AMBA so she brought my copy with her!)

Vince said...

Hi Liz:

I think I’ve been to that shadowland between pretention and popularity. In bookstores, when I walked bookstores, I would look at covers of unknown authors and sometimes I’d think, “Do I dare to eat a peach?” and thus inspirited I’d give an author, who was new to me, a hopeful try to become a friend.

I have ‘discovered’ three authors that way whom I might have otherwise never known.

Joanne Harris with her “Chocolat”, “Blackberry Wine”, and “Five Quarters of the Orange”. What a lucky find was “Chocolat”.

Then came Elizabeth Berg with her “Talk Before Sleep” and “The Year of Pleasures”.

Even an old author I found in a new way, Alexander McCall Smith, and his “Friends, Lovers, Chocolate” – so far from Botswana but so close to my heart.

I have just downloaded “Café du Jour” in the hopes of finding another gem and of making another friend.


Liz Fielding said...

Hi Vince! It's so easy to get stuck in a reading rut - definitely a good idea to read something different once in a while. Libraries are just perfect for that!

I loved Chocolat, too and we're already talked about AMS. I know I have an Elizabeth Berg somewhere. The books do seem to pile up. I do hope you enjoy Lillians book.

Liz Fielding said...

Hi Marlena - I'm hoping that the eBook will bring Cafe du Jour to a wider audience.

Liz Fielding said...

Kate, I think we talked about this book when it was originally published. How clever of you get Carol to bring you a copy. I must have missed that lunch because I didn't get a chance to meet her.

Vince said...

Hi Liz:

Berg’s “Talk Before Sleep” is most like the 15% of “Café du Jour” I’ve read so far. Another writer I found this way is Elizabeth Cadell when I bought an old audio tape book from a library because I liked the cover art. I’ve read many of her books and enjoyed them all.

I think perhaps there needs to be a genre based on insights and feelings and not on plots or outcomes.


Liz Fielding said...

I've made a note of that, Vince, although I had a ton of books on my tbr at the moment. Need to concentrate on my own book for the moment.

Lilian Darcy said...

Thank you so much for telling people about "Cafe du Jour" Liz! And thanks to everyone else for your interest. I'm thrilled to have it on Kindle, because it's such a special book for me.

Vince, I really related to what you said about walking through bookstores. I try to "walk" Amazon or the internet the same way, but it's different, really. With ebooks being cheaper, though, I'm more prepared to take chances. To pay $20 for a book, I'd need some really good reasons (e.g. several recommendations) but for under $5, I'm more generous and more adventurous, avoiding that reading rut Liz talks about.

Vince said...

Hi Lilian

I just loved your “Outback Baby”, “The Couple Most Likely To” and of course “The Runaway and the Cattleman”. I know when you write an “Outback” book it is going to take place in the “Outback”. I get really frustrated when the cover shows Ayer’s Rock and the whole story takes place in Sydney.

In addition to ‘walking bookstores’ to discover new authors, I find it very interesting to read authors who are writing outside their established genre or subgenre. Often this can be the author’s best work because the author was driven to write it.

Unlike discovering a totally new author, when you read an offshoot, you have a backdrop to compare it to. This fleshes out the author and makes all the author’s other works richer for the experience. (Even books you’ve already read. )

For me this works best when the author is not trying to switch over to another genre like romance to mystery. It works best when the book is an expression of the author's deepest feelings and not publisher’s guidelines.

It is with great interest that I am now reading “Café du Jour”.


Lilian Darcy said...

Vince, I would love to hear what you think when you have finished it. Thanks so much for your lovely comments.

Rachel Brooks said...

I tend to read mostly MG/YA books, but I'll step out of my routine to mix it up and discover new favorites. There are plenty of adult fiction authors I love as as well. Great post!

Also, I’m a new follower— wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

Vince said...

Hi Liz & Lilian:

I reviewed "Cafe du Jour" about two weeks ago. Five starts. Wonderful.