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What Elise Wrote: Castle of Dreams

Thrilled to let you know the rights for Castle of Dreams have been sold by Allen&Unwin to Norwegian publisher, CappelenDamm. The publisher is very well known and extremely reputable.

I loved writing Castle of Dreams a story set in Australia and weaving the two storylines together. I felt immersed in the story from the start. It is set in two time periods: WW2 and contemporary times. I had visited Paronella Park some years previously and never forgot the sense of mystery and decided the castle would be the thread to hold my story together.

After three novels in the bottom drawer, a memoir, and a lost romance novel I was thrilled when Louise Thurtell from Allen&Unwin’s innovative Friday Pitch made me an offer to publish Castle of Dreams. I can’t speak more highly of the support I received from the whole team at Allen&Unwin and they did enjoy the cake my daughter and grandchildren delivered to their office in Crows Nest in Sydney!

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Like a lot of writers I had trouble thinking of a name for my story. When Castle of Dreams was finally selected from various other titles that had been suggested I didn’t realise what an intriguing title it was: the stuff of legends and myths. Now I have a link from my story to a fairytale world.

Think of King Arthur’s Camelot and the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles. Vivien and Rose the two sisters in my story grew up in a castle in the rainforest in far north Queensland.

Real world castles are just as magical and most often are linked with stories and fairytales of their own. I have a board on Pinterest called ‘castles’ but I must admit I haven’t added any to it for some time now. Busy with writing Book 2 and the publicity for Castle of Dreams.

Bran Castle can be found in a ghostly and remote corner of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. It sits high upon craggy peaks within Transylvania, bringing vampires to mind.

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More to my liking are fairytale castles from the movies of Walt Disney.

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And this is the castle that was the inspiration for Castle of Dreams.

Paronella Park in far north Queensland.

This photo shows the beauty of the castle ruins.  12924442_1211785945501244_3096888427000293893_n.jpg

Have a lovely Sunday

Good writing, Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

It’s now only five weeks to the launch of Castle of Dreams. I can’t believe it’s so close. I’ve spoken in the past about the inspiration behind my story but I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about my first visit to the castle ruins at Paronella Park.

A fortunate stroke of serendipity.

I was staying in Mission Beach and went with my daughter and grandchildren to visit a local tourist attraction in the rainforest: Paronella Park.

Jose Paronella was a Spanish immigrant, who came to Australia from Catalonia in 1913. Jose was born in the small village of La Vall de Santa Creu in Catalonia on 26th February 1887. Like many Southern Europeans, he worked in the north Queensland cane fields. He eventually saved enough money to buy his own farm and by buying and selling farms and other investments he became a wealthy man. Jose’s grandmother had often told him night time stories about Spanish castles and  his dream was to one day build his own castle.

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The natural swimming pool under the falls at Paronella Park.

It was some years after my visit that I decided I needed to do a little research on Jose Paronella and his castle of dreams. I wanted to know more about the Catalonian immigrant and what brought him to Australia.  And when I discovered that the castle had hosted Australian and American servicemen during the Pacific War I knew I’d found the key to my story.

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Castle of Dreams (still standing structure after the cylonic flood washed away most of the castle)

Robert Shine the fictional American soldier in Castle of Dreams is not based on any particular American soldier but after researching the Americans in wartime Brisbane I created a soldier who comes from a place in Northern California called Paradise.

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A photo of Jose and Margarita Paronella at the castle

Unknown-2 Jose as a young man

I then emailed Luke Evans who does the publicity for Paronella Park. With Luke’s knowledge and love of the park and his enthusiasm for my project he gave me endless help with my many questions about the history of the castle and its eventually loss during a cyclonic flood.

Here is the link to Goodreads giveaway for Castle of Dreams:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/180331-castle-of-dreams

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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I have received the proof copy of Castle of Dreams! I can’t wait now to see the final version which will have embossing on the cover and be printed on fine quality paper and have the final text.

The cover was designed by the talented Kirby Armstrong and when it was sent to me I knew it was perfect for my story.

The woman on the cover of Castle of Dreams is just how imagined Vivien in my story would look like.

Here is an excerpt.

PROLOGUE
Castillo de Sueños, 1935
Vivien and Rose Blake rushed out through the heavy front doors of Castillo de Sueños, yelling to their mother they’d be home before dark. Too late Vivien remembered she’d promised to help Ma in the propagating shed with the orchids and lacy maidenhair ferns, but all day the rich scent of wild honey-suckle climbing over the loggia had drifted through the open windows, and now that lessons were over, outdoors beckoned irresistibly. Feet barely touching the mosaic tiles, the girls ran across the loggia, down the wide stone steps, and across the lawn towards the rainforest.

Vivien had spent her childhood exploring the rainforest with her younger sister. Both girls had been born in Ireland, the cold, rainy place of their mother’s stories. Vivien was three years old and Rose only a baby when they’d left, their mother fleeing her violent, drunken husband. The only home either girl had ever known was this castle in the rainforest. They knew every ancient tree, the names of every flower and bird. They had learned to swim in the natural pool under Mena Creek Falls. Together they’d hurry down the staircase from the castle to the patio, and dive from the board into the cool water. The creek rose in the mountains, flowed down from the high country and wound its way through virgin rainforest before plunging over the falls to the pool below. No matter how far the girls roamed they never lost their way, because every path eventually led back to Castillo de Sueños.

Some months ago I went to a local shopping centre that I don’t normally visit and met a lovely Spanish lady called Maribel and it was her who told me how the Spanish word for castle should be written (the last word in the excerpt above). From what I could source online it’s called a tilde (~) pronounced: tilday it turns the “n” into a “n-ya”. And Maribel (what a beautiful name) is coming along to the launch of Castle of Dreams. It was indeed a serendipitous happening when I met Maribel.

Castle of Dreams is a dual narrative story and Chapter One is set in Babinda in far north Queensland in 2008 and we visit the farm where Stella the granddaughter of Rose grew up. Rose is an old lady now and never talks about her past. Stella knows her grandmother has secrets and when Rose becomes ill Stella determines to find out what they are before it’s too late. But there are perils in visiting the past .  . .

Castle of Dreams is a story about love, betrayal and secrets. It will be published on 27th April, 2016.

Have a lovely day, Elise

 

 

 

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

cropped-castle-of-dreams-facebook2.jpgA ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are very close sisters. But during the Second World War their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier.

Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present.

Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unravelling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle where Rose and Vivien grew up to see if she can find out more.

Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies – and the perils of delving into the past . . .

Castle of Dreams is exactly the sort of story I love to read.

Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Here is the link to Goodreads giveaway for Castle of Dreams:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/180331-castle-of-dreams

I hope you win a copy!

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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For all readers of books: Goodreads has a giveaway for Castle of Dreams published by Allen&Unwin and you have a chance to win one of ten copies. So pop over and enter the competition.

Castle of Dreams tells the story of three generations of women and their secrets and loves.

Vivien and Rose are sisters who were brought up in a castle in northern Queensland. During the Second World War, they find themselves in love with the same dashing American soldier.

Linda, Rose’s daughter, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past. Happily married, and busy with her own life, Linda prefers to focus on the present.

On a visit home to her parents, Stella becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s past. Intent on learning the truth, Stella goes back to the now-ruined castle Vivien and Rose grew up in.

Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is an historical romance dealing with love, lies and the perils of delving into the past.

I hope you win a copy!

Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Castle of Dreams has done so well in the  Goodreads competition that Allen & Unwin will soon do another giveaway.  If you missed out in the first giveaway you have another chance to win a copy.

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https://www.goodreads.com/EliseMcCune

Have a lovely day,

Elise.

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What Elise Wrote-Goodreads Giveaway

I would like to thank every one who has entered the Goodreads competition. There is still  1 day and 12 hours to enter and win a copy of Castle of Dreams. 141 people have now entered! It is a figure that compares favourably with other Allen & Unwin authors (well not Kate Morton who is an inspiration to so many writers) in the Goodreads Giveaway. If you go to my home page there is a link to my Goodreads page.

It is only seven weeks now until Allen & Unwin publish Castle of Dreams so I don’t have to wait long until my novel is in bookshops and other retail outlets all over Australia.

I have had great support from writer friends and also my family. A friend from my time working at the Museum of Western Australia got in touch via Facebook to let me know she now manages a bookshop in the south of the state and has ordered copies of Castle of Dreams and my own local bookshops have already been visited by an Allen & Unwin representative and ordered books!

I find my writer friends are generous and sharing in spreading the word about  Castle of Dreams  and most of them are not Allen & Unwin authors but happy to support a fellow writer.

I followed the guidelines on Allen & Unwin’s innovative Friday Pitch (which is now everyday) and eventually after some rewriting I got ‘the call’! I was in the midst of moving house, literally waving off the removalists (the Kelly boys who do come from Ned Kelly country and one of the boys looks like Ned!)  when Louise Thurtell my publisher rang me. I had a new home and a publishing contract! I have not been through the publishing process with a big publisher before and found every single person I dealt with to be supportive and understanding but their guidance was done with a firm and professional hand.

I have been invited to do author talks and I can see a busy period coming up. I have started book 2 and I  am also editing a friend’s manuscript. I want to have the first draft done of book 2 by my birthday which is 8th August. Last night I worked out how many words I would need to do (100,000 word manuscript) each week to achieve this: either 1000 words for five days of the week or 750 words per day for 7 days.

Being an organised person I need to set gaols and when a project is broken down it doesn’t seem so daunting. I also do a check-in each day via email with two writer friends and we all find this very helpful. It is hard sometimes to keep to a writing schedule but necessary. I love to research and find if I’m  not careful I spend too much time doing it so with book 2  (I work in ‘Pages’) I make a note on screen and come back to it later. (Thank you to my writer friend who told me about this feature as I use it all the time.)

Enjoy your weekend and good writing to all,

Elise

 

 

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