I am delighted to be taking part in this Quirky Guest Post Blog Marathon today. Virginia King has featured on my blog several times now and it is always a pleasure to host her.
The Stalker’s Guide to French Wine
by Virginia King
In The Second Path, Book Two in my psychological mystery series, my main character Selkie Moon is confronted by a number of bizarre and cryptic clues which lead her across the world to France. As the story evolved, some of my experiences from several recent three-month stays in France added depth to the story.
As my husband and I drove from Bordeaux airport, north through the Dordogne, to Tours in the Loire Valley we contracted the flu, la grippe catastrophe. About an hour after arriving in Tours we were stricken and didn’t get out of bed for eleven days. Almost. After nine days of dry toast we decided a bottle of French wine was what the doctor forgot to order.
There was only a supermarket within walking distance. French supermarkets have a dizzying array of wine but from past experience we knew price was no indication of quality. In a previous visit several bottles were so bad we’d poured them down the sink.
The weather was foul. I was in better shape than hubby so I zipped myself into my raincoat, walked to the supermarket and, as a shortcut to choosing something drinkable, I proceeded to stalk various shoppers in the wine aisle to see what they bought. In a draft of The Second Path this experience inspired a short scene. Selkie Moon is feeling all alone in Paris and she’s telling her friend Derek, laid up in Hawaii, about her wine shopping experiences.
As predicted, Derek’s got over his huff. He skypes me every day from the sofa, his foot encased in a moon boot. I hide the depths of my loneliness by regaling him with adventures designed to make him feel involved.
“I’m not sure what I’m missing most,” he says. “The food or the wine.”
“The wine’s a challenge,” I say, wanting to divert him from how few restaurants I’ve sampled. “In the supermarket there’s a huge range of wines you’ve never heard of but you can’t tell what’s good, even by price. Some of my choices have been so undrinkable I poured them down the sink.”
“A travesty.” He knows I’ll drink almost anything.
“So I stalked some customers. To see what they bought.”
“You didn’t.” He laughs. “See what mischief you get up to without me?”
“I can’t ask anyone for help, so I loitered in the wine section, looking for a shopper I could trust.” It’s been one of my lighter moments. I can’t be pouring wine down the sink on my budget. “Two teenage girls cruised by and picked up some bottles of bubbly. Pink.”
“I don’t think so,” Derek says, pursing his lips.
“An old gent in an overcoat grabbed something very cheap and put it in his pocket.”
“Not your demographic.”
“Then a business couple in their thirties turned up, shopping together after work, arguing about the wine.”
I couldn’t understand a word but their body language was universal. “She wanted one particular red, he wanted another. They went back and forth a few times, getting heated. In the end they took both. And so did I. Great drinking at six euros each.”
I don’t tell him I consumed both bottles the same night and woke on the terrace shivering under a layer of dew.
I love the scene as an interlude amongst the deeper issues, but my editor felt it was too light-hearted for the serious themes around it. I couldn’t find anywhere else to put it, so it was axed. Boo hoo. Readers of Sonya’s blog are the only ones who are going to see it.
In The Second Path, Selkie has other adventures based on my French experiences, spun into a mystery with a mythical twist. In her sleep she collects seven strange objects, including a French spoon. Then later in a market she buys a set of silver ducks – little French cutlery rests that turn out to hold a secret clue to the mystery. A French fairy tale inspired a chilling experience for Selkie, its symbolism creating more mythical layers in the mystery.
In spite of the axed scene I still recommend stalking as a great way to choose good cheap wine in a French supermarket.
A rock ripped from the soil, a message scrawled in lipstick on the floor, a torn photo, a silver spoon … What do they all mean?
Only her subconscious knows.
When we last left Selkie Moon, she was running towards the source of her deepest primal fear: the sea. Now she finds herself naked on the beach, stunned that she has no memory of the past two weeks.
Recovering at a friend’s house, Selkie wakes up to discover a bizarre collection of items scattered across the floor. Items she apparently gathered in her sleep. Finding the ho’ohihi – the interconnectedness – between them will carry her around the globe, from Honolulu to Sydney to Paris. A dark fairy tale journey filled with fear and despair, laughter and hope, The Second Path has Selkie searching for her place in the world, in her relationships, and in herself.
Searching for home.
Download Your FREE Ghost Story
If you like your psychological mysteries with a mythical twist, you can download Laying Ghosts – a 24-page stand-alone ghost story which is also a prequel to the Selkie Moon Mysteries. It explains the bizarre event that led Selkie Moon to escape her life in Sydney and start over in Hawaii, only to become embroiled in a mythical nightmare in the first book in the series, The First Lie. Download your free copy here http://www.selkiemoon.com/#popup
Giveaway of The First Lie
You could be one of ten lucky winners who will choose either a signed paperback or an audio book of The First Lie plus a $15 Amazon gift code. One grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift code.
Enter here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/win-a-signed-copy/
About Virginia King
When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.