On Tour with Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell and Meet the Author

Another wow book for your weekend. Expect more tears.

Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell released last year in the Women’s Psychological Fiction genre.

Olivia has much to cope with. An embittered mother who puts her ambitions for her children before their own needs. A predatory professor who ends their affair when she becomes pregnant. Giving birth to twins in a Tangier hospital and believing neither has survived. Grief and loss overwhelm her and she abandons her studies. Then from her beloved aunt Dorothy, artistic, eccentric and mysteriously wealthy, she learns that one of the babies did survive and has been adopted. When her aunt dies she leaves Olivia a handsome legacy with the condition that it must be used to find and bring up the lost child. Olivia’s journey takes her from London to the south of France, with startling and painful revelations along the way.


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I stared at the University L’Archet hospital in Nice, wondering if this visit would propel me forward in my search for Richie. Surrounding me was the hum of lunchtime traffic, employees returning home for their protracted midday break. Palm trees in the hospital gardens were motionless beneath the pale blue sky characteristic of a heatwave, and already my head ached from petrol fumes, not helped by eyes strained from googling for radiologists in universities and cabinets.

    As I walked along the ground floor corridor, the reflection from polished vinyl made me dizzy, and the floor cleaner smelled particularly strong. It was half past twelve – perhaps food would help. I located the dining room, joined a long queue and eventually took my tray to the one free table.

    Moments later, two women in lab coats appeared.

    ‘Est-ce qu’elles sont libres, are these places free?’ one of them asked, pointing to the empty chairs.

    When I finished my meal, I produced the photos. ‘I’m trying to find this man. He’s a doctor. He may not have a moustache, he might have a beard.’

    After viewing Richie’s picture, the women shook their heads.

    ‘We have been at the hospital only since two months,’ the taller one explained. ‘If you wish, we will ask our friends.’

    In the coffee lounge, people huddled round the photo, shaking their heads – except for one woman, who studied it closely. ‘I think I am seeing this man before.’

    My heart thumped. ‘In the hospital?’
    ‘It was long time. When I am beginning my studies. Wait, please.’
    She made her way to the window and showed the photo to a man. He came over to me.
    ‘Salut. I have seen this man before. He give us a conference.’

    ‘A lecture,’ the woman said.

    ‘Yes, a lecture. I think that he is living in Paris.’

About the Author

Jane Riddell grew up in Glasgow but defected to Edinburgh in her thirties, after living in New Zealand. For years she worked for the NHS as a dietitian and health promoter. In 2006 she impulsively moved to France, and during her three years there writing became a passion. Jane writes realistic contemporary novels and has also written an editing guide. Shortly she will be publishing a novella about a Russian cat who aspires to become a writer but struggles with literary theory.

Jane has an editing business: Choice Words Editing, details of which can be found on her author’s website: http://www.quietfiction.com. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing.

Jane summarises herself as: enthusiastic, well-intentioned, hopeless with technology and having a dysfunctional relationship with time and chocolate. She loves photography, travelling and pet sitting.


Over the years, I’ve read many technical books on writing. One of my favourite topics has been described as “liposuctioning”, a great way to strengthen and energise your work.

Just as liposuction to the body means removing surplus fat, to a piece of writing, it means removing redundant words.

There are many opportunities to do this.

Here are a few:

– Verbs: the verb “go” is often used unnecessarily, for example:

I’m going to have to go to the dentist (9 words)

instead of

I’ll have to go to the dentist (7 words)

Reducing a sentence by two words may seem insignificant, but if you do this often throughout the book, you’ll increase the story’s pace and energy.

– Reducing use of the word “the” and “a”, for example,

The world is a complex one. (6 words)

instead of

The world is complex (4 words)

– Eliminating unnecessary phrases, for example, “at this moment in time” can be replaced by ‘at the moment’ or ‘just now’, “in the event that” by “if”

– Deleting words such as “probably”, “very”, “somewhat” ,“kind of” which often don’t add value to the writing.

Extracts from Words’Worth: A Fiction writer’s Guide to Serious Editing, by Jane Riddell

Note: For interest, in redrafting this article, I’ve managed to reduce its length by liposuctioning!

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