Introducing poet, author, and musician Lisa Marie Gabriel:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in the UK, which probably explains some spelling differences! I used to work as a music teacher, but had to take early retirement to care for my elderly mother. I now write instead of teaching. My home is dedicated to the upkeep and welfare of my three rescue Persian cats. My family maintain I spoil them, but I only treat them with the respect they deserve as superior beings. I love British Columbia, which is where The Cougar is set, and much of the description is based on personal experience and observation of this magical part of Canada.
(photo taken in Golden Ears, British Columbia, December 2012)
2. When did you start writing, and why?
When I was teaching, most of my writing was connected with work and of an educational nature. I also wrote some radio plays in my late twenties and submitted them to the BBC but sadly never had any accepted. There was one they nearly took on, I based my main character on myself and my own experiences only to be told that my character was not true to life and the events were unlikely. It hurt to be told I was unreal, so I gave up on Auntie Beeb! I wrote a lot of short stories and poems as a child and always had a hankering to be a writer, but about nine years ago I set about producing my first poetry collection. It was never meant to be commercial, very few people sell poetry of course, but I was just enjoying writing again.
3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write in several different genres. Firstly, there is poetry which is all about expression and exploring language. I love poetry because I love the challenge of saying a lot in as few words as I can and to me it is very like musical composition too. The sound of the words is as important as their meaning, I confess. I blog in various locations and I write “how to” articles which is a way both of writing professionally and also helping other people with music and learning to play an instrument. Writing fiction is a new development for me. Previously I didn’t consider that I had the time, but I enjoyed writing The Cougar and there is a sequel in the pipeline.
4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Yes, my latest book is The Cougar. I also have a literary fiction novel in the making and a very special book about rescue cats. Next on the agenda though is my sequel to The Cougar which will focus on Raffaelo’s life, death and rebirth.
5. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The world of The Cougar is mainly British Columbia in the present day. This is a part of the world I love very much and visit often so I was able to draw on my own experience of the hemlock forest and the lake. It is truly magical and has been used many times by film companies working out of Vancouver for that very reason. Much of The Cougar is set in Renaissance Italy, although I have ancestors from that time and place I had to research the setting obviously. In my sequel, I hope to travel through Europe and through time as well as Golden Ears. It should be a very rich and strange experience.
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
The main characters in The Cougar are Berenice, Angela, Raffaelo, Owen, Ingrid and Jurgen:
Angela is a librarian who hankers after a little bit of outdoor wildness, but actually finds it intimidating. This is why she married Owen – his way of life is old fashioned and interesting and the fact that he is extremely good looking attracted her right away. He is also a very dominant personality. Sadly, once married, he finds she is not enough of a challenge and while she wants to settle and have children he wants to play the field first! Angela is looking for someone who will truly love her but Owen is not capable of sacrificing his needs to hers and considers his marriage to have been a mistake.
Berenice is very elegant and quite beautiful, her age makes her wise and she is very much in touch with nature and the spiritual elements of the wilderness. Raffaelo is an eternal boy, but he loves Berenice very deeply and will do anything for her. She lives with him as his wife for years without once suspecting he is a vampire living as a human! Eventually she adapts to a new existence as his shape shifter companion. They are very much in love, so his tragic death is a great shock to her physically and emotionally.
Ingrid has not had an easy life at all, without the unwavering support of her twin brother Jurgen she would probably have gone under. Unbeknown to Owen, Ingrid is an m/f transsexual, and she has become a very attractive woman in a fashion model style but hard life experiences have left her cold, superficial and calculating. Ironically it is Ingrid who teaches Owen what it means to love and to sacrifice self for the one you love. Jurgen is totally devoted to his twin and will do anything to help her achieve what she wants, he is morally inept, but he is also very protective of his sister.
7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I would probably never have written The Cougar had I not met its heroine Berenice in a dream. I was walking the Lower Falls Trail enjoying the sun flooding through the trees and the endlessly changing colours when I was approached by a very attractive lady who introduced herself as Berenice and walked with me for a while. We were admiring the scenery and she turned to me and said “Please tell my story” and the very next day I started The Cougar.
8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
I run several websites and blogs, the most relevant being www.lisa-marie-gabriel.com which is a bit of everything I do and www.photahsiamirabel.co.uk where a lot of my poetry lives. There are lots of pages which I do rotate occasionally. I also have a wordpress blog which I linked into my Goodreads profile, https://persimew.wordpress.com
In theory, my book should be available everywhere but I know that listing books does take time. The best place to find me is on Amazon, not least because Prime members can borrow The Cougar for free and get free delivery on the paperback if they prefer a more organic read!
The Cougar on Kindle:
The Cougar in Paperback:
Extract – Berenice and Raffaello’s Escape from Florence:
The journey to Gubbio was harrowing. Berenice and Raffaelo travelled at night over rough roads, often uphill, and in the daytime they would rest hidden away like gypsies in the forest clearings. The bread was soon gone. There was no question of stopping at an inn to rest or eat. They had no intention of leaving any sort of trail for the mob to follow.
“I know it is hard my love,” Raffaelo said to his wife, “but you are the only thing on this Earth that really matters to me. If I lose you, I might as well be dead.”
He would bring spring water to her when he could, which he diluted with grappa to disinfect it. Neither of them had eaten in days, and Berenice was weak and feverish.
“If you die, I shall never forgive myself. This horrible mess is all my fault!”
“What do you mean? How could that be?” she replied and stroked his cheek with her soft hand.
Raffaelo looked distant, he knew she needed to eat something soon; she was far too weak and ill.
“I must find something for us to eat,” he told her, “I won’t be long.”
In a little under half an hour he was back, cradling a dead roe deer, in his strong arms.
“How did you do that?” she murmured in wonder.
“Something I learned as a boy in Umbria” he answered. “We country boys all know how to track the Capriolo!”
Raffaelo cleared the ground for a small fire, built up in a cone shape. Inside there was down from dandelions and slivers of birch bark. This he surrounded with small dry twigs, then larger ones. He took a tinderbox from his pouch and struck a spark, then coaxed the tiny flame to life. When the fire was established, he built it up with larger pieces of wood and laid logs around the rim to dry out.
With consummate skill, he skinned and removed the entrails of the deer and then constructed a makeshift spit from straight branches of common elderberry or Sambuca trees. He crushed a few purple Sambuca berries with the flat of his knife and rubbed it into the carcass to marinate the meat. Berenice was fading in and out of consciousness by now as she was so hungry. Raffaelo roused her with a gentle shake and handed her a mouthful of the purple berries he had gathered.
“Eat these, they will not harm you!” he said and she took them from him, trusting his knowledge and skill.
Raffaelo continued to turn the carcass over and over above the now merry fire until it started to look brown and the juices were running onto the embers below. Taking his knife from his belt again, he cut slices from the back of the deer.
“These will be the best, my love, they are the most tender.”
She took the meat he offered gratefully and ate. “What about you?” she asked.
“I had my share while you were sleeping. I am fine!”
After her meal, she again fell into a slumber, Raffaelo knew that evening would be approaching soon and they would have to be on their way. Using his knife, he butchered the roast carcass, wrapping the shoulders, forequarters and hind quarters in some fine muslin they had brought. The head and neck of the Capriolo he tossed to one side while he kicked earth over what remained of the fire to put it out. On the deer’s neck were two small wounds in the jugular. They were about the same distance apart as the canines of a very large cat….
Angela Bradley’s marriage is on the rocks. She and husband Owen take a second honeymoon to try and remedy the situation, a trip of a lifetime to British Columbia, but little does Angela know that saving their marriage is the last thing on Owen’s mind. He has arranged to meet up with Ingrid and continue his affair. Whilst there Angela meets Berenice, an elegant widow of Italian descent, who is seeking to come to terms with her husband’s violent and tragic death. The two women seem inexplicably attracted to each other, but Berenice is older…. much, much older…. and she has an amazing secret or two up her sleeve! This Gothic romance novel flits from Renaissance Florence to the forests of modern day British Columbia as the story of the two women unfolds and Owen comes to a sticky end. It is suitable for adults 18+ to read as it deals with themes of vampirism, shape-shifting, death, and explicit love scenes….
About the author:
Lisa Marie Gabriel is a UK based author, composer, musician and poet. She divides her time as best she can between family and friends in England and in British Columbia which she loves and considers her second home. “When I go to BC, you are most likely to find me in Golden Ears, probably hiking the Lower Falls Trail, or simply lazily dreaming by the side of Alouette Lake. I also absolutely adore Victoria – and boats – I love boats!”
She has recently published her first novel, The Cougar, which was inspired by her love for Golden Ears and an interest in vampires and shape shifters. As a writer, her first love is poetry but she has also written music education material, has edited and published The Cat the Bat and the Burglar for Colin Edward Mason and enjoys photography and design too. “I consider myself a Renaissance woman” she says, adding “unfortunately I do not possess Berenice’s immortality!”
Lisa is also an established composer and musical arranger and has recorded her own album, Flying to Meet the Sunrise, which is available on CD (exclusive to Amazon.com) and MP3 format. She has also executed musical commissions for other writers including A Peaceful Celtic Spring. Other books released by Lisa on Amazon include the poetry anthology “A Whisper of the Romantic in the Eye of God” and a technical dissertation analysing the songs of Ralph Vaughan Williams, “On Wenlock Edge 100 Years On”.
Of her latest work of fiction, The Cougar, she says “It’s a penny dreadful, a rollicking read; though I hope it has a little artistic merit too. It was fun to write and I hope you will find it as much fun to read. I wanted to convey a few challenging ideas about love and spirituality in a light way and also what a treasure the forests of British Columbia are. In that respect, it is a work written out of love!”