Hello, I hope everything is great with you. I can’t believe that it’s already November! ‘Devil’s Way’ the fourth Kate Marshall book, is now complete and will be published in the English language January 12th. I’m now working on my first ever stand-alone crime thriller, which will be released next summer and I’m very excited for you all to read it. Thank you to everyone for your wonderful messages and shares on social media. The 7th Erika Foster book, ‘Fatal Witness’ has now been published in The Netherlands, Portugal, and most recently in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
I thought I would share this blog post from the archives – from 2012 – when me my husband, Ján, and my mother-in-law, Vierka, took a trip over the border to the Czech Republic…
Our trip to the Czech Republic had two stops. The first was Prague. I’ve been to the Czech capital a few times before and always loved it. We had our dog Riky with us this time, and he always draws a crowd of admirers. I lost count of how many times people stopped to pat him on the head or cooed at his cuteness. He does look a bit like a cuddly toy that’s come to life. He was a lucky pup and got to see all the sights…
The second stop of our Czech holiday was a tiny village called Hoštice. It sits south of the Czech Republic and is a six-hour drive from Prague. Hoštice is famous for being the location of three iconic Czech comedy films; Slunce Seno, Jahody (Sun, Hay and Strawberries), Slunce, Seno a Par Facek (Sun, Hay and a couple of slaps) and Slunce, Seno, Erotika (Sun, Hay and the Erotic).
The films are written and directed by the legendary Czech director, Zdenēk Troška and they satirise village life in Czechoslovakia during (and shortly after) Communism. They are still shown regularly on television in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and attract huge viewing figures (and recently they have been uploaded to Netflix with excellent subtitles).
We arrived in Hoštice on a hot, sunny summer morning, and what shocked me the most was that it was exactly like stepping into one of the films. Nothing seemed to have changed in the twenty or more years since the third movie was made. Villagers went about their business, ambling up the sleepy lanes with trolleys full of firewood. Old ladies in their flowery housecoats and headscarves stood gossiping. The local pub looked just like it had in the films; many of the villagers who appeared as extras sat chatting in a haze of smoke whilst photos from the films hung on the pub wall, showing much the same. It was life, imitating art, imitating life.
And then the lines between real life and the movies blurred further. Zdenēk Troška based the movies on his experiences of living in Hoštice, and he still lives in the village. We’d chatted with the landlord of a pub in Prague, and when he heard we were visiting, he’d said that if we passed Zdenēk Troška’s house, we should ring the bell because he loves to come out and talk to fans.
When we got to the top of the village, we passed a beautiful house with his name written on the front gate. Being British, I didn’t want to ring the bell and bother him, but Ján, who is always more courageous than me, went ahead and rang the bell. To my shock, Zdenēk Troška, a Czechoslovak cinema legend, came out of the house and welcomed us warmly. It was incredible to meet him. He spent half an hour chatting with us about the films, and he posed for photos, and when he heard I was British, he talked about his love of Ken Russell films. I also told him that I call my mother-in-law ‘Maminko’ which is the Czech word for ‘Mum’ rather than the Slovak word which is ‘mama’. I first heard ‘Maminko’ when I watched Slunce Seno, Jahody and it’s thanks to that film that Ján’s Mum will always be ‘Maminko’.
Our last stop on our day out was Hoštice train station. In the films, the village of Hoštice is so small, that the trains rarely stop at the station and speed through to make up time, forcing passengers who want to go to Hoštice to jump off the moving train. My favourite scene is when a group of people going to a wedding is forced to leap off onto the platform, in their best clothes, carrying gifts. They complain about this, but they also accept the situation. It sums up the absurdity of life in Communism in such a funny, self-deprecating way. I loved our visit to Prague and Hoštice, and I’m excited to visit more places in the Czech Republic very soon!