Casablanca My Heart was my debut novel first published by Taylor Street in 2012 and subsequently with different covers by Thorstruck Press and Tirgearr Publishing in 2014 and 2015. After I left my 3rd Indie publisher this summer and decided to self-publish – although with the back-up from my friends at the writers’ collective 13th Sign Publishing, I decided I wouldn’t republish the book but a reader asked after it and made me change my mind.
Why I didn’t want to republish my debut that had cost me some many blood, sweat and tears to get it finished and which harvested 19 almost all 5* reviews?
Simple. It’s not a story I would ever write again. For one, I’d never go for 1st person narrative again. Also, I see too much melodrama in it and unfinished thought lines. Not that I don’t have those in my next books. I do. I’m still learning the craft, still feel like a novice whose mind is too erratic and whose imagination is an all-over-the-place, at times way too wild. I tend to jump to and fro into back stories that possibly hinder the reader to understand where the story is supposed to be going. Often I have no clue where my characters are jumping to anyway.
These days, my co-writer Lee Carey is a great help in honing my skills. Where I may be too long-winding and descriptive, Lee is fast forward and action oriented. Excellent combination and a great experience to become a better writer. More focused on what I want to say and how a story arc is kept interesting. I hope the lessons will show in my next books.
Back to Casablanca My Heart. It’s available now with the cover it had with Thorstruck Press. The same cover as the audiobook excellenty read by Kate Fisher. I hope Amazon will grant my request to repost the reviews Casa now has with the audiobook. This was my favourite review written by my first editor and a great lover of the book, Sheila Mary Taylor.
A beautiful romance, a stunning debut novel
This is an unusual romantic novel, and I was mesmerised by it from the very first page.
Heather Simpson is a successful romantic novelist whose first love and marriage to the famous artist Luuk Routers has come to a tragic end after an unavoidable car accident for which Heather wrongly takes the blame. To protect her identity she assumes the pseudonym Femmy Lovecraft for her novels, at the same time continuing to nurse her beloved Luuk who remains in a coma. Persuaded by her friend Rita to give herself a break from this sadness and follow her dream to visit Casablanca to do research for her new novel, she embarks on a cruise which calls at Casablanca. But just before the ship docks she is confronted on deck by a handsome stranger who mysteriously knows her true identity.
From this moment on her life changes dramatically. Although at first shunning the attentions of the stranger, annoyed and puzzled that he should know her true identity, she nevertheless finds herself overcome with lust for this handsome half French, half Moroccan man of royal blood. But his passionate seduction of her is short-lived. Overcome with guilt, Heather flees back to the ship that afternoon, vowing never to see Ghalib Tourniquet again.
Told first from Heather’s point of view, and then from Ghalib Tourniquet with his fascinating blend of two cultures, the two voices complement each other in a most intriguing way. Warren has the enviable ability of being able to place herself in the head of each of her main characters, giving the prose an immediacy and a directness which is both vibrant and cinematic and made me feel I was right there watching the characters and living every moment of the action, the emotion and the heartache.
This debut novelist has a keen eye for detail; her prose is enriched by her fresh observation of things one often overlooks, and I found myself re-reading some of her passages for the sheer joy of the sound of them.
The characterisation is deep and revealing, especially of the main characters, whose lives the author explores far beyond the boundaries of the plot, which I will not reveal any further, but which will leave you on the edge of your seat as you follow the intricacies of their lives and bite your nails wondering whether Heather and Ghalib will ever get together again.