What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?
About four years ago, after my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at college, I went through a sort of mid-life crisis. I missed being a mom and I wondered how I would fill the void. Sure I had my part-time bookkeeping business, but it consumed only a few hours a day and it wasn’t interesting any more. Something was missing? But what?
This prompted me to review what I like to call my “mid-life list.” This is similar to a “bucket list,” with an important twist. The idea was to refocus myself and figure out the things I wanted to do with my life in my fifties – while I could still do them. My list was short.
-Learn to play the piano
-Travel to Africa to see the elephants
-Travel to Tahiti and see the island of Bora Bora
-Travel back to France (with my family this time)
-Write a book
At the time, I didn’t own a piano and, with two daughters in college (on the east coast no less!), I couldn’t afford a trip to Africa or Tahiti. I had already traveled back to France in 2001 with my family, so that left me to examine the fourth item on my list more closely. If I did write a book, would it be fiction or non-fiction? What genre would I choose?
The answers to my questions came to me in the shower (which is where many of my ideas seem to materialize, strangely enough). I decided to hunt down my diary from my au pair adventure in France and compose a memoir. It took me three years to write it, but now I can scratch another item off my mid-life list.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?
It’s difficult to choose one excerpt, but I’m proud of the detailed picture I paint of a French baker in Songais.
“I watched as the other woman, maybe in her eighties, kneaded a large ball of dough at a table on the other side of the display window. Her gnarled fingers pulled and rolled the dough, adding flour until it gained the right consistency. At one point, she stopped to scratch her face , leaving a smudge of flour on her cheek. As I followed Madame out the door, our eyes met, her grin transforming her face from serious to radiant.”
What are five important things you take into consideration while writing your story?
It’s old advice, but so important: As I follow my diary, I strive to show, not tell the story. Often, this involves replacing as many adverbs as possible with action words. When I come to the end of a chapter, I try to foreshadow things to come because I want my reader anxious to turn the next page to find out what happens next. Descriptions have their place, but I’ve always loved “white space” on a page, so I dialog a scene whenever possible. A few expressive interjections enhance the conversations and make them more interesting. Emotional cues, scattered throughout my book add depth. “Pulses race” and “guts tighten” when people get excited, frightened or angry. Hmmm, I think that’s more than five.
Why should readers pick up your book?
Set in the beautiful LoireValley, French Illusions will remind readers what it was like to be young, adventurous and filled with dreams. My remarkable true story will touch hearts and linger in readers’ minds long after they turn the last page.
What genres do you prefer to read? Which do you enjoy writing in?
I prefer memoirs, but I’m also drawn to well-researched historical novels. One of my favorite books of all time, is Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.