dimanche 2 août 2015

Interview: Isabelle Andover

Here's an interview with Isabelle Andover, who's the author of Cocktails at Le Carmen. If you haven't read my review of it yet, here's the link: http://lauromantique.blogspot.ca/2015/08/cocktails-at-le-carmen-isabelle-andover.html . I hope you like it!
Hello Isabelle! Thank you so much for answering the following questions today, I'm sure many of your readers will be happy about your answers. Let's start with an easy one: can you explain what your novel, Cocktails at Le Carmen, is about?

Hello! Thank you for having me on your blog and asking me such great questions.

My debut novel, Cocktails at le Carmen, centres on Chloe, an English girl in her mid twenties who moves to Paris after job cuts where she works lead to an unexpected transfer to the French capital. It’s a story about leaving behind your life as you know it and finding your feet, and a whole lot more, in a unfamiliar yet exciting city.

What inspired you to write this novel?
I was inspired by a combination of factors, really. I absolutely adore chick lit, and every time I read a book I loved, I thought about writing my own novel. But it wasn’t until I moved to Paris and had been living there for about three years that I started to write Cocktails at Le Carmen. I really believe in “write what you know” and the importance of setting, so it made sense that my novel would be set in the city where I live, with the main character being a similar age to me. While it’s fiction, it does contain parts inspired by real life events and experiences, and I hope this makes it feel authentic.

I’m a big fan of Paris-based books written by expats– La Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson and And What do You Do by Sarah Long are two of my favourites – as I always find that while most expats share the same observations and experiences about Paris, they each describe a different side to the city.

What was your writing process? Is there a place where you liked to write, or something you liked to listen to or to eat while writing? 
I sometimes go and write in cafes – I love Paris’ Sugarplum Cake Shop for its amazing cakes and relaxed vibe - but I actually prefer writing on my bed, with my cat next to me. He’s usually asleep (this is the scenario right now), but it’s nice to have a bit of company. I like eating chocolate, but I don’t have to be writing to eat it. Actually, I should limit myself to eating chocolate only when writing - I’m sure I’d be extra inspired to hammer out an impressive number of words if I had a bar of chocolate waiting for me!

Did you do a lot of research to write this novel?
Some things in the novel are based on real life experiences – the flat hunting, for example, so I didn’t need to research those. (Thank god, as trying to find a flat as a foreigner is a soul-destroying experience). I did research the parts set in London, although I’m eternally grateful to the Wattpad reader who brought to my attention the fact that I’m apparently incapable of reading a Tube map correctly.

You started by posting your work on Wattpad. What is your favorite thing about this website and would you recommend it to other writers? 

That’s right. I love that fact that readers are really supportive of your work; being told that your book is funny or well-written, or makes people want to visit Paris, is so lovely to hear. While I was writing Cocktails at Le Carmen and posting it on Wattpad, quite a few readers posted comments that made me develop the plot in a certain way or reminded me to tie up a loose end – it was really helpful to see the story through the eyes of readers.


How did you come up with the title? Did you have a lot of title options, or did you want this one and no other?

I had a few title options, but this one just seemed ‘right’.

How did you come up with your characters' names? Are they completely random, or do some of them have a special meaning? 

Most of them are completely random, and are just names that I like. I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about what to call my characters; usually their names come to me straightaway.

I heard you moved to France after graduating. What decided you to do it and how has it influenced your life? 

Yes, originally the plan was to do a three-month journalism internship in the south of France after I graduated in 2009. Then I got a job in Paris and I’ve just somehow never left. It was always my dream to live in Paris but I never thought it would be possible, so it’s amazing how things have worked out.

Did you speak a lot of French before moving to France and are you completely fluent now?

I studied it at university, so I felt reasonably comfortable about moving to France. I wouldn’t say I’m completely fluent – I spend quite a lot of time speaking English as I seem to have befriended more expats than actual French people – but I’ve definitely learnt a lot of new slang words that they don’t teach you at university!

What is your favorite French word or expression? 

Ça roule ma poule – it means ok, chick or similar.

French food or British food? 

Ooh that is a tough one. You can’t beat a Nutella crêpe, in my opinion, but I do love cheddar cheese. I was ecstatic when Marks and Spencer opened in Paris – I might actually be their best customer – so I like to think I enjoy the best of both worlds.

If you could be the original author of any book you've read, which one would it be and why? 

Jemima J by Jane Green. I love this book; I must have read it about ten times. I also love Don’t You Want Me? by India Knight – I laughed so much when reading it.

What is your favorite quote? 

I saw this on Facebook the other day - I think it sounds better in French as it rhymes.

"C'est parce que la vitesse de la lumière est supérieure à celle du son que tant de gens paraissent brillants avant d'avoir l'air con."

( Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear to be bright until you hear them speak.)

What do you like the most about being an author?

The fact I have the perfect excuse for a duvet day because “I am writing”.

Do you have any plans for the future you can tell us about? 

I’m currently working on a bonus chapter for my short story, Have Your Cake and Eat It, which is on Wattpad, and I’m also planning to get back to writing my second novel now I’ve got some time over the summer. I also plan to start running every other day, eat only healthy food, and teach my cat how to use his new catflap. It remains to be seen how successful I’ll be at these last three things!

Once more, thank you for answering! C'était très gentil de votre part et je vous souhaite bonne chance dans vos projets futurs! 

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