Pre-order of The Paris Cooking School

Sumptuous…Romantic..Escapist: The Paris Cooking School is now available for pre-order via the Ultimo Press website. Exciting! The book will be released in November. On the pre-order page there’s also a new author photo of me, one of a portfolio of several fabulous new author portraits, in both colour and black and white, which the very talented Lorena Carrington has created for me.

Great new review for The Key to Rome!

On the popular Buzz Words site, there’s a great new review, by Debra Williams, of The Key to Rome. Here’s a very short extract:

This is a first-class middle-grade historical adventure…..Multi-award-winning author Sophie Masson has carefully crafted a believable and suspenseful adventure. Her details of the period have been thoroughly researched to create an intriguing historical mystery.

You can read the full review here.

Publication day for The Key to Rome!

Today my new middle-grade historical mystery novel, The Key to Rome, is officially published by Eagle Books and is available in all good bookshops around Australia. It’s a novel that’s had a long gestation, since the day quite a few years ago when I spotted an ancient Roman key ring (a key designed to be worn as a ring) in an antique shop near the British Museum, and on an impulse, went in and bought it. It immediately inspired a train of thought about a story set in the Ancient Roman province of Britannia, and in time that turned into the book that is published today. And it’s just wonderful to see it out there at last!

The gorgeous cover illustrations, map and chapter decorations are by Lorena Carrington, and elegant design by Authors’ Elves.

You can watch a trailer for The Key to Rome here.

Cover reveal of The Paris Cooking School!

Absolutely thrilling–my publisher has just revealed the gorgeous cover of my forthcoming adult novel The Paris Cooking School, written under my pen-name of Sophie Beaumont, and to be published by Ultimo Press in November. Isn’t it beautiful–and how about that perfect strawberry tart!

(Really love the way the book is described too: sumptuous, romantic, escapist. And delectable!)

Here’s the blurb:

Life doesn’t always serve up the perfect dish, but second chances are always on the menu

There’s nothing quite so beautiful as Paris in the spring; and when you add in the chance to learn the French way of food, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, who can resist? Not Gabi Picabea or Kate Evans who have come from Australia to Sylvie Morel’s Paris Cooking School.

Both are at a crossroads, and learning to cook the French way in Paris, far away from all their troubles, seems like the perfect escape. 

Still bruised from a shocking betrayal by her ex-husband, Kate is trying to find a new place for herself in life, and emotional peace, while French-Australian artist Gabi is struggling with a crippling creative block.

Meanwhile, Sylvie herself is facing challenges of her own – a mysterious harassment campaign against the School and a reassessment of her relationship with her commitment-shy lover Claude. 

For each of the women, that extraordinary April in Paris will bring unexpected twists and transformations that will change the course of their lives.

A delectable novel about love, hope and the consolations of the perfect strawberry tart, The Paris Cooking School is a treat for the soul.

The Paris Cooking School will publish in November 2023. Pre-order from your local bookshop, or online, or via the Ultimo website, here.

Fabulous first review for The Key to Rome!

The Key to Rome, my historical mystery novel for middle-grade readers set in Roman Britain, has just got its first review, one week ahead of official release, and it’s an excellent one! It’s reviewed by Heather Zubek in the West Australian. Here’s what she said:

A dying man’s promise, a mysterious key, and a dangerous journey in ancient times; The Key to Rome is a story that will keep you reading until way past your bedtime. Set in the Roman Province of Britannia in AD84, the story sees 12-year-old Livia keeping a promise to her dying father to deliver a key to her estranged uncle. Along her perilous journey, Livia meets Mato, a boy who needs to see his dying mother before it’s too late. Together the two travellers make their way through ancient lands where they learn that the key may hold a dreadful secret. Multi award-winning author Sophie Masson has created a thrilling historical adventure that not only excites but teaches us about the troubled times in which the story is set. For ages 9+.

A great start for the book–thank you, Heather!

Advance copies of Secrets of the Good Fairy House!

It’s always exciting when you get those first advance copies of a new book–it’s a magic moment when you get to hold the real-life book in your hands! This week, copies of my new book with the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington, Secrets of the Good Fairy House, arrived at my place and to say I was delighted with how it looks is an understatement 🙂 It is truly gorgeous, in fact!

Here’s the blurb:

Secrets of the Good Fairy House is a unique exploration of how a beloved childhood house can grant not only a treasury of rich memories, but also spark imaginative childhood adventures, and future creative inspiration. Created by award-winning author Sophie Masson and acclaimed illustrator Lorena Carrington, this beautiful book is an interwoven mix of memoir and fiction in both text and images, taking you on a fascinating journey into a very special magic.

The book is published by our very own ‘tiny press’, Pardalote Press, and distributed nationwide through Peribo, so you can buy or order it from any bookshop. It will be officially out in June.

(by the way, the framed photo in the pic below is of the ‘good fairy house’ of my childhood in France, which was the inspiration for my part of the book)

Pleased to be part of HNSA Winter Online Program

I’ve very pleased to be part of the lineup of presenters for the Historical Novel Society of Australasia’s excellent Winter Online Workshop Program, which starts on July 1. There’s a fabulous array of workshops on all kinds of aspects of historical fiction on offer, from a wonderful array of presenters. My own workshop is on what publishers are looking for, when it comes to historical fiction, whether for adults or kids: a practical, informative and also fun look at how you might maximise your chances as a writer, of attracting the publisher’s eye.

You can see the array of workshops, including mine, here.

Photo by Lorena Carrington, 2023

Fabulous little trailer for The Key to Rome!

There’s a fabulous little trailer for The Key to Rome, my forthcoming middle-grade historical mystery novel, now up on the Christmas Press You Tube channel. The book’s coming out in May and I’m really looking forward to its release. It’s been many years in the making, ever since I found a Roman key-ring in a London antique shop. I’ve written a bit about it here but will write a bit more about it later. But today, do enjoy the trailer!

A unique treasure….

Born in Indonesia(in Jakarta) where my parents were working at the time (my younger sister Camille was also born in Indonesia, but in Surabaya, in East Java), I grew up in France and Australia amidst many reminders of Indonesian(especially Javanese, but also Balinese) culture, which my parents loved. The wayang plays, in their different forms(the puppet ones such as wayang kulit, wayang klitik and wayang golek, and the wayang orang, played by people) was a great love of theirs, along with the haunting music played by the gamelan orchestras.

They had already given me one unique treasure: the handwritten script of a particular wayang play, written down by a Javanese dalang(master puppeteer) in Javanese and then translated into modern Indonesian and English(both languages my parents spoke fluently). And now I have another Javanese treasure, gifted by my father and carefully brought here from France by my brother: a totally gorgeous set of exquisitely-painted clay figurines which my parents bought in Yogyakarta many decades ago, depicting a wayang orang performance with a full accompanying gamelan orchestra. They are absolutely unique pieces: I have never seen any other like them–including on the internet 🙂

As a child I was completely enthralled by this beautiful miniature world and would stare at them for ages, imagining their stories, hearing in my mind the music they played, the way the dancers moved…Many years later, as an adult with my own children, ona visit to Central Java, we went to a gorgeous moonlight ‘wayang orang’ performance of the Ramayana Ballet, in the ancient temple complex of Prambanan and it was like watching those figures world come to life…

It is just so wonderful that now this beautiful miniature world has found a new home with us here!

‘Wayang’, by the way, means ‘shadow’, or, metaphorically, ‘imagination’: a fitting name for this most extraordinary of art forms…