Do click and the link and watch the ad, it’s wonderful!
I was at the market yesterday, dodging the rainstorms and the kamikaze old ladies with their baskets on wheels, stocking up at one of my regulars on the usual; red onions, red peppers, watercress, avocados, artichokes (no, this wasn’t one of the stalls where the locals come in to sell their home-grown and chat for a good five minutes to every customer. It was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella.)
‘We’ve got a special price on cauliflowers,’ said the cheeky chappie (French version) behind the stall as he took my green beans. When I didn’t immediately seize one he went on (market traders are the same from Clapham to Cadilliac), ‘Tres beau, they’ll make a delicious gratin. A special price, just for you!’
‘We’re not eating gratins,’ I said, ‘my husband’s on a diet.’ He’s going to a memorial service next week and wants to be able to wear his best suit which was made 25 years ago.
‘Un régime? You can’t let him stop you from eating what you want!’ said the Cheeky Chappie, sounding appalled.
There was a certain amount of agreement from everyone behind the stall about how you must always have a gratin if you want one, then one of them said, ‘It’s obvious, Madame, changez le marie!’
Mmm, I’m not sure if that isn’t a bit extreme. I think if I made myself a gratin the plate wouldn’t be whipped away from me with a, ‘You don’t mind if I eat this, do you?’ Anyway I’m not that fond of Cauliflower Cheese. Besides he has finished the book in record time and given it back to me.
Tthough if he persists in trying to discuss it before I’ve finished it I may think again.
You go to the post bix every day for a week hoping that the book you’ve ordered – Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rappaport –
When you come back, you find your husband – who normally describes anything you like to read as ‘rubbish’ and ‘girly’ – already 30 pages in. He look up and, with the air of someone who’s afraid you’re about to insist on having his last Rolo, says, ‘You don’t mind if I read this before you, do you?’
I reckon a literate judge would agree that swiping someone’s new book prives ample grounds. On the other hand Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd which the OH has been longng for arrived this afternoon. I finished reading Bill Slider at lunchtime…
Many thanks to Vanessa Couchman for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog chain, which lets us writers blow our own trumpets. Vanessa writes a fascinating blog about French life and customs, she’s a freelance writer and is writing her first novel – read about it here.
What is the working title of your next book?
At the moment it’s French Twist but I’m leaning towards Croissant Moon.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
From a long time back. There were very few crime novels set in France and I thought vaguely that maybe I should write one myself. I realised quickly that I’m not a crime writer so the whole story was put on the back burner, then about a year ago I got the idea of turning everything around so that instead of being a police procedural from the detective’s point of view it became Hebe’s story with added detecting.
What genre does your book fall under?
There lies a problem, it doesn’t fit neatly into any category which might make it hard to market. I hope it’ll be the beginning of a series, it’s got a bit of crime, it’s got humour, it’s got a little romance though not much, it’s about moving abroad – I suppose you could say in general that it’s Women’s Fiction, which sub-section unspecified. Of course if everyone thinks it’s startlingly brilliant it won’t matter that it can’t be easily categorised but I’m not holding my breath about that.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I have a very good idea of what my characters look like, how they behave and can’t imagine any actor in their shoes. In the unlikely event of the book being filmed I’d have to leave it up to the professionals to do the casting. Then I’d do my best not to wince at their choices.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Unemployed Hebe, 35+, jumps at the chance to kick-start her career by project managing a gite project in Les Landes but life in rural France turns out not to be as calm or crime free as she fondly imagined, and she soon finds herself involved with an antique dealer who may or not be honest, a detective who probably isn’t all he seems, a vindictive château owner, a seriously scary crook, chauvinistic police, a cowardly stray dog and builders behaving like builders – to say nothing of the stolen property and the corpse.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Of course I’d like to be represented but I don’t expect I will be.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first germ, about 40,000 words was written about seven years ago. This completely revised version was started in March and should be finished in a month – it’s been very slow but I haven’t driven myself that hard, I must confess.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Anyone who combines humour and crime is going to be compared to Janet Evanovich and the Stephanie Plum novels. I’d love to think mine is going to be as good! However though we both have extremely attractive detectives, her books are first and foremost crime novels while mine is primarily a comedy with added crime.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to move on from what I was writing at the time, I’d really enjoyed writing romantic comedy and thoroughly enjoyed revising the novels as ebooks, but I was losing my taste for reading that sort of book and there’s no fun in writing if you can’t write what you like to read.
I also love books set in France, especially the ones that manage to be lighthearted and avoid casting the French as Pastis drinking, sex obsessed, Gauloise smoking, garlic smelling yokels, and thought I could have some fun here. When I’m not stuck on a scene I’m having a whale of a time writing French Twist.
I had a major loss of confidence a few years ago and practically stopped writing, my youngest daughter has never ceased to badger me about starting writing again, she even bought me a Writers Block from New York to put on my key board, so a lot of the credit that I’ve nearly got a manuscript finished must go to her.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
It isn’t about lazy French builders.
And here are the writers I’d like to tag. They all live in France too which is sheer co-incidence not an attempt at a gathering of ex-pats. I haven’t actually met any of them, maybe one of these days, but I do enjoy reading what they write.
Susie Kelly has lived in France since the mid 90’s and writes a wonderfully diverse blog, she takes a mean photo too. She’s published four books, The Valley of Heaven and Hell, Best Foot Forward, Travels With Tinkerbelle and Two Steps Backwards, wry and humorous books about her travels in France.
Deidre Borie lives in Normandy, teaches English and sells books (now that’s a good job to have!). She has a book review blog and describes herself as a ‘novice writer’ but if her novel is as good as her reviews that’s not going to be a problem.
Steve Bichard is a man who wears several hats; he has a French advertising website, he has a tomato growing blog (he was called the Tomato King when he lived in Portugal) and he’s written and self published Vantastic France, the trials and tribulations of a White Van Man moving to France. He’s particularly generous about passing on hints to other authors about ways to improve sales and publicise their books.