Monday, April 30, 2018

Quentin Smith ~ character interview and his novel ~ Sweet Bergamasque

TITLE: Sweet Bergamasque
RELEASE DATE: June 25, 2017
AUTHOR: Quentin Smith
CATEGORIES: Historical/Military/Adventure
ISBN: 978-1544887418
IMPRINT: White Stag

KEYWORDS: War, Wine, Adventure, Romance, Tragedy, France, Historical

How the French kept their best wines from the Germans in WW2: wine maker Jean-Marc joins the resistance to steal back their national treasure.

Jean-Marc is nurturing his first decent Bordeaux vintage in a decade when the German army invades France in June 1940. His decision not to flee with his wife and children will haunt him throughout the war, but when he loses his wine farm to the occupiers and is forced to hide in his neighbour’s cave cellars, the opportunity to join the maquis and retaliate is irresistible. Amongst his new comrades is the enigmatic Monique and their journey is one of bravery, unexpected romance and eventual tragedy, leaving Jean-Marc out for revenge.

QS: When did you first start making wine, Jean-Marc?
JM: I started helping my papa when I was old enough to hold secateurs, maybe five or six years old. And I never stopped, not until the Germans came.

QS: That must have been incredibly hard for you.
JM: Watching my wife and children leave without me was hard, hiding in my cellar while the Germans drank my wine and wrecked my house was… but when I had to abandon my farm and hide like a rat in Alphonse’s cellars…Mon Dieu…

QS: Do you regret not returning to your vineyards after the war?
JM: (hesitates) What kind of question is that?

QS: Well, I was just thinking that if you had continued making wine you may not have ended up where you are now.
JM: You mean in prison?

QS: (nods)
JM: How could I go back to making wine with my family gone, with Monique gone and the passion, the flame, extinguished inside me?

QS: It must have been difficult.
JM: (shrugs and draws on his Gauloise)

QS: Did you think your wife and children would return?
JM: (pause) When I heard they had been deported to Germany, to concentration camps, along with so many others, I knew…

QS: I’m sorry.
JM: I never expected to meet someone like Monique, you know. I married Isabelle when I was 19 and I knew nothing else, I was happy, but Monique… she… (shakes his head)

QS: If you hadn’t been a wine maker what would you like to have been?
JM: (thinks and then smiles) I loved working in the cinema after the war. The magic of the movies. (eyes sparkle) I loved the American films especially, you know we were not allowed to show them for six years during the occupation, but I saw them all afterwards. Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman – oo-la-la.

QS: You used to…
JM: You know what I really love about American cinema? Popcorn. In France we always had cheese and bread, never popcorn.

QS: You enjoyed working with the open air cinema.
JM: I loved it.

QS: Do you regret doing what you did?
JM: (inhaling sharply) Never. They deserved what they got, I know they weren’t innocent. Monique never deserved what they did to her.

QS: Do they ever bring you wine in prison?
JM: (shakes his head)

QS: Do you miss it?
JM: Every minute of every day.
(Keys rattle in the door)

QS: Good luck Jean-Marc, thank you for talking to me.
JM: Good luck? You know I am for the guillotine, no?
(Policeman enters and ushers JM out.)
JM: Tell Alphonse to take care of Chateau Cardinale for me. Tell him.

QS: I will.

In addition to being an anaesthetist, Quentin Smith has a long-standing passion for writing. He has published articles and papers in The British Journal of Anaesthesia, Anaesthesia News, Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Hospital Medicine, Today’s Anaesthetist, Spark, and Insight.

Following a five year term as editor of Today’s Anaesthetist, he undertook creative writing study through The Writing School, New College Durham, The London School of Journalism including a coveted place on the Curtis Brown Creative fiction course in 2014.

He is the author of three previously published novels: The Secret Anatomy of Candles (Matador 2012); Huber’s Tattoo (Matador 2014); 16mm of Innocence (Matador 2015). Huber’s Tattoo was runner-up in The People’s Book Prize 2015 and 16mm of Innocence was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2016. His recent novels reveal his interest in European history and the Second World War in particular.



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