Published by Quercus
Available in ebook and trade paperback (5 April 2018) | paperback (12 July 2018)
My thanks to Olivia from Quercus for the invitation to take part in the tour for What Lies Within. Today I have a guest post from Annabelle on setting her book in Marrakech. I’m perhaps showing my age here, but I now have the song ‘Marrakesh Express’ by Crosby Stills & Nash in my head!
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I’ve always wanted to set a book in Marrakech. For me, it’s one of the most exotic and enigmatic cities on the planet – however many times I visit the medina – the medieval old city – it remains an unknowable tangle of streets and alleyways. Even though the chic streets of the ‘Ville Nouvelle’ are just a short walk away, it feels incredibly ‘other’ – an ideal place, then to explore how unsettling starting a new life abroad can be.
When I visit, I always stay in a riad in the medina – riads are old townhouses, with rooms built around a central courtyard. There are hundreds of riads now, mostly owned by expats, but my favourite is Riad Kniza (riadkniza.com) It’s owned by Mohamed Bouskri – who was partly the inspiration for the character of Mustafa – who has been a guide in the city for fifty years. It’s filled with fabrics, paintings and furniture by local artisans and feels luxurious without being ostentatious. I’d love to stay in La Mamounia – the city’s most luxurious hotel, and the home of Dame Edith in What Lies Within, but it’s a bit out of my price range. For me it’s somewhere to go for a G&T as the sun sets, or to listen to some jazz in Bar le Churchill. The place just oozes old-school glamour.
It’s true that Marrkech is a very frenetic city – but the joy, for me, is that there are plenty of ways to step out of the madness if you want to. Roof terrace bars are a great option; I love Kosybar (kosybar.com) above the Place des Ferblantiers; great cocktails and a really chilled-out vibe – it became Larousse, the restaurant where they have the pivotal dinner party – in the book. If I feel like escaping the souks for a quiet lunch, I head to the Terrasse des Epices (terassedesepices.com) – in my opinion they do the best tajine in the city.
I gave Freya, my main character, my love of the souks, and the joy of starting to disentangle the medina’s alleyways and streets. I don’t always shop in the medina though; if I don’t feel like bartering, I go to Souk Cherifia. It’s a collective of young Moroccan designers, selling everything from jewellery to cushion covers. In the Ville Nouvelle, I love 33 Rue Majorelle (33ruemajorelle.com) – the closest thing the city has to a department store, selling everything from olive oil and wine to handmade hats. It’s right opposite the beautiful Jardins Majorelle, perfect for a post-spree stroll.
If I’m staying for a few days, I’ll often take a taxi to one of the day resorts that lie a few miles out of the city. One of my favourite places to retreat to is the Beldi Country Club (La Vie En Rose in the book), a gorgeous country estate about six kilometres outside Marrakech, with beautiful gardens and three swimming pools. It’s a blissfully peaceful way to spend a day.
And no trip to Marrakech is complete without an evening in the Jemaa el Fna, the extraordinary main square, with its snake-charmers, storytellers and water sellers. People are often nervous of eating at the food stalls but I’ve had some wonderful dinners; the trick is to check out some local bloggers and see which ones they recommend. Sitting eating hot merguez, while flames shoot up from the grills and the air is thick with drumming and the hubbub of thousands of people all mingling together – it’s a classic Marrakchi experience, and totally unique. Just like the city itself.
| About the Book |
An intense, claustrophobic psychological novel about the dark side of expat life, and what being out of your comfort zone can do to you, set in the vibrant souks and ancient riads of Marrakech
A unique friendship, built on a lie
Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.
A move that would change all their lives.
The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco.
A city where nothing is as it seems
Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.
At the time of this post, the Kindle version of What Lies Within can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p. It is also available to buy in trade paperback.
| Author Bio |
After sixteen years as an award-winning travel and features journalist, writing for The Times and many other national broadsheets and magazines, Annabelle made the transition to fiction with The People We Were Before, the tale of a young boy and his family living through the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The book was born of her experiences in travelling to Croatia for over thirty years, and witnessing the country’s spectacular fall and rise.
As a travel writer, she has visited over 50 countries, including driving through the Omani desert, trekking in the New Zealand rainforest, learning (and failing) to sail in Bermuda and narrowly escaping being run over in Tripoli. Her fiction brings in locations she knows intimately; Croatia in The People We Were Before, and Marrakech and Qatar in her second novel, What Lies Within, published in April 2018.