I love books about Paris! Do you think I will like yours?
Yes, I believe so! Mind you, they aren’t your typical novels set in Paris. At first they may seem a little like chick lit (a secret trip to the romantic city of Paris!) or a travel memoir (Amy ventures abroad without telling her husband and ends up on a voyage of self-discovery). But they go a bit deeper. In The Paris Effect, Amy deals with the loss of her best friend and the downward (and sideways) spiral that ensues. She questions herself and her choices, and ultimately has to make some tough decisions. In Paris Ever After, Amy must determine “the right thing” and find the courage to do it. She’s pushed and pulled by the other people in her life, and by her own passions and compunctions, but in the end the decision is all hers.
Many books have been written about Paris. What sets yours apart?
For many of us, Paris is the ultimate dream destination. And don’t get me wrong–Paris is truly as beautiful and romantic as it’s cracked up to be! But as Amy learns, it’s also a multilingual, multinational metropolis of street hustlers, diesel fumes, and pickpockets. Amy encounters all of these and more, including some wonderfully kind strangers. Most of all, she gets to know the real Paris. And so will you.
Paris Ever After is a standalone sequel to The Paris Effect. So I don’t need to read The Paris Effect first?
Nope. Each book can be enjoyed on its own. Both stories take you on a journey through Amy’s Paris. But like a café crème and macaron, they go great together. Both stories take you on a journey through Amy’s Paris, a Paris few casual tourists ever see. But each story has its own surprising, often unpredictable path of self-discovery as Amy struggles to confront the challenges being thrown at her.
What inspired you to write?
This is easy. I am a member of two book groups. We love talking about stories and characters, why we liked or didn’t like a novel, what books and reading mean to us. After publication of The Paris Effect, I was lucky enough to be the guest author at more than a dozen book groups. All of this has led to a lot of pondering on my part about what makes a satisfying reading experience. Simply put, I wanted to write novels that people would enjoy reading and talking about. That’s how my Paris books were born. Also, the next best thing to being in Paris is writing (or reading) about it!
Is anything in The Paris Effect or Paris Ever After autobiographical?
Well, it’s true that I used to live in Phoenix, as Amy did. And I know Paris pretty well, having spent a number of years there. But I’ve never ran away from home and husband, like Amy does in the first book. And (except for being robbed and stalked, which is sadly not at all unusual) I never had any of the adventures she had in Paris.
Speaking of adventures, are the catacombs a real place?
Yes, indeed. Hundreds of miles of tunnels run underneath the streets of Paris. Some are sewers but many are fairly clean, dry passageways left over from the quarries dug years ago to cut the stones to build the city. People who call themselves “cata-philes” like to explore them (to escape modern life, to hold wild parties, or just to have innocent picnics) just the way Balzac and his crew do in the first book. This activity is illegal, however, and the French police maintain a special force to try to keep people out (known as “cata-flics”).
Have you gone down into the catacombs yourself?
While I have done the official catacombs tour a couple times, you could not pay me to go down into the illegal parts. But many people have written detailed accounts of their adventures there, and helpfully posted them on the Internet. This is where I got my source material. In fact, everything Amy saw and did is entirely plausible. There really are murals and rooms full of bones. Insane as it sounds, some explorers do shimmy through tight narrow “wormholes” the way Amy did.
What about all the “rules for the perpetual diet”? Where did they come from?
Just before I started working on the book my doctor told me I needed to lose some weight. I was not happy! But I put myself on a diet and as time went by I realized I was devising all sorts of idiosyncratic “rules” to keep my eating in check. So I decided it would be fun to include rules in the book. In this respect, I guess the novel is autobiographical. (Except for the more out-there rules, of course. I’m not that nutty.)
So did it work? Did you lose weight?
I did. I lost what the doctor said I needed to lose. But then I gained it back. Sigh.