January is now upon us, the Christmas tree, decorations and tinsel have been packed away for another year, and ahead of us is another twelve months of exciting possibilities. We have another spring and summer to look forward to, when the world brightens with flowers, green grass and blue skies, when the sun shines and life starts anew and days lengthen.
I love winter and all it brings, there is still so much to see and do, but I’m also every excited about the year ahead. I’m excited about all the work I have before me, and the projects I’m currently involved in. If all goes according to plan, there will be some big announcements in 2018, and as much as I’m bursting to tell you what they are I can’t just yet, as there are so many variables, but keep checking in, as I hope to be able to bring you news about some of it very soon.
The first big bit of news I can tell you though, is about my forthcoming book Wind Across the Nile. I now have a release date for it and I will be announcing it on my Facebook Group Chrissie Parker Book Group this weekend. So head on over and join the group if you would like to be one of the ones who hear the news first!
The other bit of news is that my book Among the Olive Groves is currently on download sale on Amazon for 99p for UK readers. So if you haven’t got your copy yet, then now’s the time to grab a bargain! It’s the perfect time of year to lose yourself in a book set on a sunny Greek island.
Enjoy January, it can be a hard month to get through after all the fun and festivities of December. Have a great year, I hope that 2018 makes dreams come true for all of you.
Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. It’s when family, friends and co-workers come together, to celebrate, spend time with each other and be thankful. It’s when people believe in the kindness of others, or when dreams come true, and small miracles happen. The expectation of falling snow, warm log fires, and comfy clothes.
I love Christmas. Every year I look forward to it. It’s such a magical time of year and I get very excited. Christmas is also a time of year when we look back over the year that’s passed, and think about all that’s happened. The good and the bad, the highs and the low. Sometimes we end the year grateful for everything that we’ve been through, other times we are just thankful just to get to December waiting impatiently for January to arrive so that we can start a new year afresh and forget about the past.
For me, this year, has been long and challenging. Unfortunately I was very ill in the Spring, something that forced me to take months out, and recuperate. Once I was finally better and able to return to my day job, I was greeted with the news that I was about to lose that job, something that hit me hard, and I still miss it and my ex-colleagues. My epilepsy medication was also adjusted and so I had to deal with that as well, despite it being something which has, in the end, been positive, and I had to undergo further medical tests. The worst thing about this last year however, was that my next book release was delayed indefinitely due to being ill and all the combined upheaval, which for me was both frustrating and upsetting. I hate letting my readers down and that’s what upset me the most. I felt like a failure and a disappointment to them. The book still hasn’t been released, but I’m further forward and very close to being able to publish it. News on that will be announced in January!
Despite my struggles throughout the year, my incredibly loyal readers have stayed with me, and they understood the delays with the book. As Christmas draws near I’m so very thankful for them and their support, they make what I do special, and without them I wouldn’t be an author, so they’re very important to me. I’m also grateful for my friends, both old and new, who understand my chaotic life, but are happy to be part of it and allow me to be in theirs, even if I don’t get to see some of them very often! Most of all I’m thankful my family for putting up with me, so to speak – they’ve been a huge support and I love them very much.
So, wherever you are, whoever you’re with this festive season, make it a good one. Enjoy your time together. Be thankful for what has passed, it makes you who you are. Be thankful for what you have, sometimes it isn’t what we want or expect, but things always have a habit of turning out okay in the end.
So this is me signing off for 2017, and I’m wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for all you kinds words and support this year, it has meant a lot, and see you in 2018!
What are you looking forward to the most this Christmas?
Everyone says that you should try and visit Paris at least once in your life. A city full of famous sights, history, culture and romance, Paris is a place that I’ve been lucky to visit more than once and a city that I have fond memories of.
My first trip to Paris was with the school. At the age of fifteen a coach full of my friends and I, accompanied by our teachers, made the trip across the channel and spent a few days in the city visiting some well known sights such as Notre Dame, The Centre Pompidou and The Eiffel Tower.
It was my first trip abroad and it was exciting to be away from home with my friends. Paris was an interesting place, we got to see some amazing things and try out our French language skills in preparation for our GCSE exams. We scaled the heights of the Eiffel Tower, to take in the views, before walking back down (not for the faint hearted especially if you don’t like heights!). We explored Parisian cafés and shops, and visited The Louvre to view the famous Mona Lisa. The most interesting part of the trip however, was getting stuck in a lift, and being rescued by firefighters. It wasn’t something I enjoyed that much and I’ve been petrified of lifts and getting stuck in them ever since!
My next visit to Paris were day trips for various events, and I never got to see much of the city but still enjoyed being there, it’s a relaxing place to visit and work. It wasn’t until December 1999 when I returned again, this time for a longer stay that included Christmas and New Year. My home for the next three weeks was in the area of Pigalle, just round the corner from the Moulin Rouge and I grew to absolutely love this part of Paris.
I would pop out in the mornings to buy bread, croissants and other supplies. I explored the streets that wound up to the Sacre Ceour and the artists quarter, and discovered some lovely shops and cafés. Jumping on the metro I went further afield to Lafayette and other neighbouring stores to see the beautiful Christmas window displays, marvelling at the huge tree in Galeries Lafayette, before going up to the roof to view the expansive skyline of Paris; a view I highly recommend.
Christmas Day was celebrated by eating ham, egg and chips in a local Parisian café, and New Year’s Eve was celebrated on the steps of the Sacre Ceour, looking down upon the lights of the city, as the millennium arrived in a flurry of amazing fireworks.
Other trips during my stay were to the Champs Elyse, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. My favourite trip out was on New Year’s day, catching the metro to Trocadero and walking over the River Seine towards the Eiffel Tower taking in the New Year date 2000, before walking along the river towards Notre Dame. It’s a lovely walk and you get to see so much of the city from the bank of the river.
I love Paris, there’s so much to see and experience, and I discovered that one of the best things you can do in the city is just to walk the streets, enjoy your surroundings and take everything in. There is always something interesting to see, or new to discover. Sadly I haven’t been for a while, but I do hope that I’ll get the chance to go back again very soon, it’s a city that still has so much to offer, even if you have been there many times before.
Have you been to Paris? If so which was your favourite part?
Many years ago an old friend I worked with was studying German and decided to go to Germany to test her language skills. Rather than go on her own, she asked if I’d go with her. Having never been to Germany before I jumped at the chance. We packed rucksacks, booked our tickets and endured a twenty four hour coach journey from London to Munich. We eventually arrived after a ferry trip to France and a long drive through France, Belgium and Germany. We were tired and hungry and Munich was in the middle of a massive thunderstorm. In the dark we navigated the streets of Munich and made our way to the hostel where we booked in and got some sleep.
Over the next week we spent our days exploring the city and its surroundings, we travelled the U Bahn and S Bahn, Munich’s equivalent of the underground, we ate and drank in the Hofbrauhaus a famous German drinking house, and explored the many sights including the beautiful Marienplatz, the Frauenkirche (Cathedral Church of our blessed lady), and the Olympic park where we climbed the tower to take in surrounding views.
One day we took a train to the town of Dachau. My friend wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure it was something I really wanted to do, but rather than stay in Munich on my own I tagged along. In the town are the remains of Dachau concentration camp, one of the first camps created by the Nazi’s during the war. It’s a lonely, abandoned looking place with a hauntingly horrific past. With much trepidation, not knowing what to expect, we entered the camp remains and agreed to split up and meet up with each other a little later. The stories you hear of the silence and birds not singing in concentration camp sites is quite true and it’s also very unnerving. Alone, I walked abandoned pathways, past old barracks where camp prisoners would have lived and down the long tree lined Camp Road, that runs the length of the site. At the end, close to some chapels, was the crematorium area, which housed the gas chambers. They were rooms made to look like showers that were built with one purpose; cruel mass murder. Inside one of the shower rooms I stayed silent, trying to imagine what those poor people who had been forced to enter and never escaped had felt like, and I was at a loss. Some say the gas chambers at Dachau were never used, but an overheard tour guide told their tour group that they did indeed use them. The emotion I felt was very real. I was unable to understand how it had ever happened. I felt sadness for the thousands who had so cruelly lost their lives in Dachau, but also very angry, and was I glad that I was experiencing it alone.
Wandering back down Camp Road to the former maintenance building that I had yet to visit, I stopped a moment to take in the place of death, that now stood silent as if nothing had ever happened. It was hard to believe that so much cruelty had taken place there. In front of the maintenance building was a lone metal statue – The International Monument – a tribute to those who had lost their lives in this place, and it seemed so little in comparison to the huge loss.
The former maintenance building had been turned into a museum, and the walls inside were covered in black and white photos of some of those who had been prisoners. Some photos were plain, merely men women and children standing or sitting, a haunting sadness on their face as they endured their daily existence, others however were much more graphic. They showed inhumane experiments that had been conducted on unfortunate prisoners, executions and other things that don’t even bear thinking about. It was at this point that I’d had enough, and could no longer stay in the museum, but before I left I stopped to ask one of the staff a question:
“Why do you allow people to visit Dachau and keep these awful pictures on show?”
The response was: “We are not proud of what happened here, we want to remind people how terrible it was in the hope that it never happens again.”
The rest of our trip to Munich continued with the usual sightseeing ad exploration after our visit to Dachau. We visited the Hofbrauhaus again, and it became a favourite place to eat and drink, we sunbathed in the English Garden and visited the Viktualienmarkt. But it was the visit to Dachau that stayed with us the most, and remained on my mind for a very long time, my friend and I never discussed it, but the stories we heard and the images we witnessed shocked us to the core and is something that will remain always. It’s certainly something I’ll never forget and in part I agree wholeheartedly with the museum staff. What happened during the war was truly terrible, we should never forget and it shouldn’t ever be allowed to happen again.
Have you ever been Munich? If so what was the favourite thing about it?
Whilst visiting Eilat, in Israel (separate post about Eilat coming soon!) we border hopped into Jordan to visit the ancient city of Petra. It was a very early start and the coach trip up the Kings Highway took a few hours, but it was a trip that would prove to be worth it. Jordan is a great country, an expanse of dusty red/brown desert that rises and falls stretching on for endless miles. Mountains line the roadside, only punctuated by the occasional site of a Bedouin tent and its occupants.
Arriving in Wadi Musa, the small town where Petra is located, we joined our guide and followed him as we walked through the gates into Petra National Park. Nothing can prepare you for what you see as a visitor, neither can you truly describe to others how incredible Petra is. At first it doesn’t seem like much as you walk a dusty, open path with not much on either side, save for rocky inclines. After ten minutes or so however, you happen upon the Triclinium tomb and some Djinn blocks – ancient structures built by the original inhabitants the Nabataeans 2000 years previously – the first sign of what is to come. They are impressive, but you wonder if it was really worth the visit, but the trip doesn’t end there.
The path continues steadily on, and suddenly it plunges down through a crack in a rock, between two large edifices of pink stone, once sliced open by an earthquake. Along this path you begin to catch remnants of ancient reliefs, carvings, cobbled flooring and an ancient water irrigation system, as you marvel at the incredible gorge that nature created.
Suddenly, without warning, the path ends and that’s when your visit to Petra really begins. At the end of this gorge stands the impressive El Khasneh (The Treasury), an ancient temple built by the Nabataeans. Turning to your right you suddenly discover that it’s just the first of many ancient sights, as your vision fills with the remnants of ancient tombs, temples and rock-cut houses.
Seeing and experiencing Petra was something I’ll never forget. Petra is a huge ancient city, albeit in a semi-ruinous state, that had belonged to the caravan people who had worked the old spice road, around 2000 years ago. Many of its buildings were carved directly into the rock face which meant they haven’t been destroyed by earthquakes, and are still visible. Sadly not all of the city survived though and the central part is fairly ruinous. Despite that, it’s an incredible place to explore, and just when you think you have finished seeing everything, you find another sight to marvel at. There are the Royal Tombs, Colonnaded Streets, a Roman Amphitheatre and The Monastery, the list is endless and there is so much to see and experience. The rich colourful rock, giving Petra it’s nickname of the Rose Red City, is so vibrant in places and marbled in texture, mixed through with hues of white and grey. You really do get a fascinating insight into the people who built the city and used to live there. No vehicles are allowed into the ancient city, and so most visitors make the trip down on foot, but there are horses, camels and horse drawn carriages for those who need transport.
I love Petra, it’s in my top three of favourite places visited and I hope to be able to go again one day. Today the site is well looked after and protected, and sits on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It’s a place that many don’t know exists, a hidden historical gem in the Jordanian desert, and one that is definitely worth visiting and will welcome visitors with open arms.
Have you ever been to Petra? If so what did you like the most about it?
I often get asked the same question in interviews; did you always know that you wanted to be a writer, or have you always written? The answer I always give is, yes, I did always want to write and have been doing so for a very long time. When I was at school I used to write lots of short stories and poems, and my school report cards repeatedly talked about how creative I was and how I never lacked imagination (although most of my teachers thought I should actually pay more attention to my academic subjects and put the stories away!), but I can never really remember much about what I actually wrote at the time.
In the last few months I have been reorganising my office, unpacking some very old boxes from moving house a few years ago. In one of the boxes I stumbled across something that I haven’t seen for about twenty years.
I had completely forgotten that around the age of Eleven/Twelve years old, I sat down and wrote my first “book”; The French Mystery by Christina Curtis. It was what I recently rediscovered. I had a read of it (all 70 handwritten pages of A4!). Not only had I written a full story, I had also given it a title and created a cover for it (out of felt-tip pens, cut up paper and cardboard), given drawn pictures to go inside it.
If I had to describe it, I would say that The French Mystery is an archaeological suspense. It’s about me and a handful of my school friends, who go camping on the old Roman hill fort that was in our village. Whilst camping on the old hill fort we discover that a group of French thieves are illegally digging on the site and hunting for artefacts. Imagine an archaeological version of the Famous Five if you will. Having re-read it thirty years on, I’m actually quite surprised at the well thought out storyline, and realise now that after spending decades searching for my niche/genre, it had been there all along and I had just forgotten about it.
Thankfully, I eventually found my way back to my niche – historical suspense – and I’m still writing, and have now released five books. It’s been very interesting finding The French Mystery buried at the bottom of a box and seeing where it all started; the place where my writing journey really began, and at such a young age too. I am also glad that it survived three decades, several moves across the country and never got thrown out. It would have been a shame if I had lost it. Not only has it reaffirmed that I am doing what I was meant to do, but it was also fun reading all about my old village, the old Roman Hill fort and my old school friends.
Dreams can stay with us a long time, sometimes decades, never give up, as you never know what may happen in the future!
Have you ever discovered something years later, that reaffirmed that you were on the right path in life?
Over the last two years I’ve been working hard on a book called Wind Across the Nile that will be released at the end of this year. I’m a year behind schedule and this has left me frustrated and made me put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel as though I’ve let my readers down, and even though I know they are still there patiently waiting, and will support me as soon as the book comes out, I wanted to take this opportunity to apologise and thank them for sticking with me. Sadly things haven’t gone as planned, life got in the way, including me being very unwell for a few months.
Now, things are back to normal (or as normal as life can get!), and I’m getting back on track and I can’t wait to release Wind Across the Nile at the end of this year. The love that I’ve always had for this book is still very much there and I’m so happy with the story, and just can’t wait to release it now. The editing is done, and all that needs to happen now is the proofreading and formatting, and we’re good to go.
I love the plot of this book, and have really enjoyed working on it, and using the knowledge gained from my Egyptology courses to craft it. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story will immerse the reader in Egypt, introducing them to the Egypt’s history, archaeology and other amazing sites it offers. There will be new characters to meet and learn about, and the story will take the reader on an exciting journey that spans over 100 years.
I can’t wait to release Wind Across the Nile now, I’m so excited about getting it out to readers so they can hopefully enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Even more so, I can’t wait to be able to get on with the next book, so that I can get back on track. Thank you for sticking with me!
Have you been to Egypt? If so what are you most looking forward to about this book?
Wind Across the Nile
Wind Across the Nile – Book Description
When Cora Thomas learns her parents and younger brother have died in tragic circumstances, her life crumbles. As she struggles to come to terms with what has happened, she uncovers an old leather bound book in her parent’s attic. Unable to decipher it, she goes to Egypt in search of help from eminent Egyptologist, Professor Nick Foster.
Cora is captivated by Egypt, a country rich with culture, history and heritage. Eventually finding the help she needs, Cora allows her painful grief to subside, but her happiness is short-lived. As Cora uncovers the truth of her family history, she finds herself fighting for her very existence at the hands of people she thought were friends.
From the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, to the ruinous sands of the Egyptian desert, Wind across the Nile is a story of unbreakable bonds, family secrets and self-protection.