Five on Friday with Louise Mangos @LouiseMangos

Today I’m delighted to feature Louise Mangos who writes suspense novels, short stories and flash fiction which have won prizes, been placed on shortlists, and have been narrated on BBC radio. Her short fiction has appeared in more than twenty print anthologies and magazines. Her latest psychological thriller, currently a finalist in the Page Turner Awards, is The Beaten Track.

Louise holds a Masters in crime writing from the University of East Anglia. She lives at the foot of the Swiss Alps with her Kiwi husband and two sons, enjoying an active life in the mountains.

Over to Louise:

Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

This song still gets played ad infinitum in our household every Christmas. It reminds me of my youth, a festive season in the warmth of my wonderful family, of my dad lighting the log fire, the excitement of gifts under the tree, sharing a delicious meal, and games played until late at night with all the relatives. Nat’s honeyed voice is still a favourite of mine and my Mum.


The Cult – Sanctuary

I can’t keep still when I hear this song. It reminds me of such great times in the sometimes mis-spent years in my early twenties when I could dance until dawn in the basement nightclub of the iconic Vagabond Bar in Leysin, Switzerland


U2 – Running to Stand Still

In the eighties I backpacked around the world (does that remind anyone of a novel?) I travelled with a Sony Walkman and swapped a handful of cassettes out of my backpack from time to time. But the three I held on to for the entire year were U2’s “Joshua Tree,” Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and Talking Heads’ “Little Creatures.” Surprisingly, it wasn’t “Road to Nowhere” that conjures the most prominent memories of my travels, it’s “Running to Stand Still” blasting in my headphones on the top of a Himalayan Pass in Nepal and being incredibly moved by the poetry of Bono’s lyrics.


Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partirò

Of all the languages I speak, Italian is my favourite. Every time I hear Bocelli sing this song, I break out in goose bumps. Such a build-up, such emotion, and such a powerful voice.


The Waterboys – A Man is In Love

This was the first dance at our wedding, performed by the wonderfully talented cover band Pink Champagne. We’re celebrating our silver anniversary this month, and I still get the warm fuzzies when I hear this song.


What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.

Prosecco. It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me that this is the first thing on my list. I’m a sucker for its feel-good qualities, always reminding me of summer, and I’ll share a little secret – it has less alcohol than wine.

A view. Since the age of 6 I’ve always lived in a house with a view. And I don’t mean just a lovely garden. I mean a far-reaching view. When I was growing up, the view from my bedroom window was across my mum’s lovely garden to acres of Hertfordshire crop-rotated fields of barley, wheat, peas or linseed. There’s a housing estate there now, but my childhood view set a precedent for what I wanted to see from my window as an adult. My current view is towards the Alps of central Switzerland. I need a view to contemplate when writing. Anything else makes me feel claustrophobic.

Water. For the past 26 years I’ve lived on the shores of a lake. I love wild swimming, kayaking and sailing in the summer. Many of our holidays now involve travelling to the ocean for a different water experience. One of my favourite places to read is in the bath. And when I’m not drinking Prosecco, my non-alcoholic beverage of choice is fizzy water. I’m a water baby.

My cross-country skis. My favourite season is ultimately summer, but when winter rolls around, I like nothing better than skate skiing on our local cross-country trails in the Alps.

My laptop. I write every day, even on holiday, although then it might only be a few words. I can’t imagine not being able to write. It’s a compulsion. On the occasional times I travel somewhere (never more than a day) without my laptop, I take a notebook and pen, but I prefer to type on the keyboard (see one of the 5 things people may not know about me).

Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything.

Don’t judge when you don’t know the full story.

Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

Follow your heart, not your lust.

Don’t eat all the pies

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you

I speak four languages – English, French, German and Italian. There are four official languages of Switzerland and I owed it to my adopted country to learn at least three of them since coming here 40 (yes, 40!) years ago. The fourth is Romantsch, spoken by a small percentage of the country, but one I’ve not yet mastered (there’s still time!) I also speak a smattering of Spanish.

I’m also an artist – you can check out some of my paintings on my website. https://louisemangos.com/

I used to be very sporty. I’ve run multiple marathons and participated in various triathlons and ski-touring races. I’m still active, but time has not been kind to my knees.

I’m a fast typist. Currently my rate is about 90 words per minute, but I used to be able to type more than 100 wpm. It means if I have an entire scene in my head, I can get it onto the page really quickly. However, procrastination, the lure of social media, and searching for a particular word in the recesses of my ageing mind means those moments are now quite rare.

I’m terrified of balloons. Globophobia is a thing, honestly! My kids were slightly miffed that they were never allowed to have balloons at their birthday parties. It’s all part of having mild phonophobia, a fear of loud noises. Fireworks or guns, for example. My fascination for the power of nature has cured my childhood fear of thunderstorms – knowing the lightning precedes the thunder also helped.

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

I’d love to have my novels translated into other languages – especially the languages I speak.

I’d like to see all my completed works published one day. Apart from my suspense novels, this includes a historical mystery, a memoir and a collection of prize-winning short fiction. As an aside, I’d also like to write a magical realism novel, but it’s hard to get published when writing so many novels outside ones ‘brand.’

I’d like to find a carbon-friendly way of visiting Greenland and the Antarctic before the poles melt.

I’d like to see my children find their way in the world to help humanity make a difference while achieving eternal happiness.

It’s probably too late, (“It’s never too late!” I hear me telling my younger self) but I’d love to learn to play the piano, even though I can’t read music.  

Many thanks for joining me today Louise, it’s been lovely getting to know you better. I did meet you (very briefly) at Harrogate several years ago but it was before I was a seasoned ‘author stalker’ or I’d have invited you to join me then! Thank you for bringing some great music choices, I love Andrea Boccelli and this piece of music always makes me cry, it really makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck at the end. Your location/view sounds wonderful and definitely inspiring. Oh, if youth could only differentiate between love and lust life would be made much easier. As would a life without balloons, I hate the damn things too, and now I can put a name to it! I’d say go for it with the piano, it really is never too late to try and here’s hoping you achieve your other dreams too.

Louise’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

The Beaten Track

Sandrine’s round-the-world backpacking trip was supposed to be an adventure. But she returned to Switzerland penniless, pregnant, and emotionally shattered. The man who stalked her committed suicide, the man she fell for abandoned her, and now Sandrine is trying to take care of her baby, Kai, and her father, who is slipping into dementia.

She finds herself both nervous and thrilled when an American named Scott takes an immediate interest in her after a chance meeting in a café. He’s the picture of sun-bleached physical perfection, and he treats her—and Kai—with care and generosity.

Sandrine is tempted to believe her luck is finally changing for the better. Despite the sudden arrival of her supposed Prince Charming, though, she may not be on the verge of living happily ever after . . .

Strangers on a Bridge

She should never have saved him.

When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.

Adamant they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charming exterior grows darker and his obsession with Alice grows stronger.

In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her and even her husband questions the truth about Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.

To what lengths will Alice go to protect herself and her family?

Anthology Inclusions

Beguiled by a Wild Thing

Beguiled by a Wild Thing is the perfect introduction to readers new to flash fiction and essential reading for those already familiar with the form.

Noir From the Bar

ALL PROFITS FROM THIS TITLE WILL BE DONATED TO NHS CHARITIES

This anthology, consisting of 30 stories by crime and mystery writers from all over the world has been conceived, created, and published in a month.

All stories have been donated free-of-charge by the authors, with the vast majority of them written specifically for this very special book. Originating from Virtual Noir at the Bar, a weekly online gathering where authors — best sellers, award winners and up-and-coming — join together to read sections live from their works to the public, the organisers of that event put the word out to writers who had appeared to submit a story to help raise funds for NHS charities. The result is this book. Inside you’ll find short pieces that have nothing in common other than their quality and a general tale-from-the-bar theme.

No Good Deed

These funny, heart wrenching, surreal and uplifting stories on the theme of ‘Help’ are raising funds for the Indigo Volunteers charity.

From afternoon drinking opera singers and a son saving toads for his father, to a woman hiding a refugee boy in her garden shed and a homeless man being given a hand of friendship, help is shown in many different ways.

Featuring stories from Clare Harvey, Susmita Bhattacharya, Joanna Campbell, Amanda Huggins, Rosie Garland, Meg Pokrass and many more, this anthology will make you laugh, cry and want to go straight out and help someone in anyway you can.

The Real Jazz Baby

The Real Jazz Baby features 162 flash fictions from over 120 of the best flash fiction writers in the world.

These short short stories, each no longer than 360 words, were long-listed for the four rounds of the Reflex flash fiction competition held in 2018.

Within these pages traditional narrative shares space with the experimental. Humour sits alongside tragedy. The Real Jazz Baby is the perfect introduction to readers new to flash fiction, and essential reading for those already familiar with what the form can offer.

Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road

133 short short fictions selected from the winners, short listed, and long listed authors from the three rounds of the 2018 international Bath Flash Fiction Awards. All 300 words and under, these stories are by writers representing over twenty different countries. Experimental fictions exploring many different themes and subjects which show the variety possible in his exciting and continually developing genre.

Barely Casting a Shadow

Barely Casting a Shadow includes 161 stories from 138 of the best flash fiction writers in the world, all long-listed for the first four rounds of the Reflex Fiction flash fiction competition. You’ll find four winning stories: Anger Management by Charmaine Wilkerson, Jimmy Choo Shoes by Shannon Savvas, Fly Away Home by Helen Rye, and our inaugural winner, and the story that gives this anthology its name, Barely Casting a Shadow by Alicia Bakewell. You’ll find humour, sadness, love, and lots of ladybirds. Whatever your reading tastes, there’ll be something here for you.

Farewell my Lovely

A goodbye anthology for our lovely tutor Laura Joyce with stories by Bridget Walsh, Louise Mangos, Harriet Tyce, Wendy Turbin, Mark Wightman, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Ashton, Natasha Hutcheson, Jayne Farnworth, Louise Sharland, Bob Jones, Judi Daykin, Karen Taylor, Antony Dunford, Freya Wolfe, Niamh O’Connor, Denise Beardon, Natalie Marlow, Marie Ogee, Roe Lane, Matthew Smith, Femi Kayode, Kate Simants, Lucy Dixon and Trevor Wood.

Hysteria 6

Hysteria 6 is the anthology of all 30 winning stories, flash fiction and poetry from the 2017 Hysteria Writing Competition. This is the sixth year of the Hysteria Writing Competition. When we began, it was with a single competition in mind, since then it’s grown beyond our original expectations and is now a major part of the Hysterectomy Association year and the writing calendar. Each of these outstanding entries are written by the authors, writers and poets to entertain, stimulate and provoke the reader. We have no set theme beyond the broadest of statement ‘what interests women’. Each year, I’m always amazed at the variety of entries that cross our path. They surprise, delight, entrance and inform. The thirty entries in this anthology are the best of the best.

Nivalis 2016

An anthology of contemporary short fiction, this collection has been gleaned from a global literary competition judged by an international jury, and features the works of award winning authors as also fresh voices exploring a range of characters, plots, and themes. From a child’s perception of loneliness to a grown woman’s understanding of what has been risked and lost, from a youth’s crisis with identities and the future to the portrait of an old couple with the weight of history to bear, or from the three perspectives on one lotto win to a witty, sublime parable on the absurdity of war, the stories in this collection strive to explore each feeling, every emotion.


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