Interview with Author Bobbi French

FINDING ME IN FRANCE

4/5 STARS

A few years ago, I spontaneously decided to travel to Italy and live there for 4 months. I don’t know exactly what came over me, but I was determined to do it, and determined to do it alone. I spent four months travelling on my own – living mainly in Torino (northern Italy), and making my way to Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, the mountains, and even a trip to Lyon, France. Sure, it was lonely at times, but I don’t think I would change the experiences I had for anything else.

Prior to leaving for Italy, I loaded up my Kobo with a bunch of books to keep me preoccupied on my flight to London, England, and of course, throughout my stay in Italy.

I managed to visit Dante Alighieri’s house in Florence, and even saw the exact room, desk, and chair he used to write his infamous Dante’s Inferno – one of my favourite books of all time! It felt so surreal being around so much history.

Then, I made my way to Venice, and visited Harry’s Bar, where Ernest Hemingway spent a majority of his time writing – of course, I had to take a shot of espresso and work on writing of my own – Hemingway style.

With all of the travel, I still managed to find time to get reading done. Everyday I’d visit a new cafe in the streets of Italy, and read a book. One of the books that inspired me on my trip was Finding me in France by Bobbi French. This was a story about a Canadian woman who decided to let go of everything she knew in North America, and move to the country side of France with her husband.

I remember walking the streets of Florence with French’s book in hand – and I can’t think of a happier moment than that.

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Luckily, Bobbi French graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions!

 Bobbi,

What is your favourite book? Oh my, that’s a tough one. I read well over a hundred books a year. I don’t think I could ever pick just one but The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields is up there as well as The History of Love and Middlesex. And I had a great time reading The Rules of Civility. I like so many, so it always depends on what I’m after in the moment. 

Favourite Author? 

Again, killer question. Maybe Carol Shields, her work is so arresting and real. 

In your book, “Finding me in France”, you left a familiar, Westernized life to go live in the outskirts of France with your husband – what drew you to this decision? 

Many things really—having lived such a structured life, college then med school then residency, straight into a big career in psychiatry with no real break to explore the world; an interest in other cultures and languages and a husband who had lived around the world; being in my early 40s, knowing that if I didn’t make a move, I’d turn around and fell like I’d missed the chance to do something interesting and unexpected and creative. So, all those factors worked together to lead me to decide to shake up my life and see what happened. It was quite an adventure.

Are you still living in france now?

No, I am back in Canada, have been for a while. For now, I’m in Halifax, Nova Scotia near my husband’s family and our friends, but who knows what lays ahead.

Of all the European countries you could’ve chosen to live in… why France?

Well, why not France, right? The wine alone is enough to draw anyone in. But really it was far less romantic and magical than it seems. My husband, Neil, and I had vacationed in Burgundy where we met some folks who were looking for help with their vacation property business ( and yes, I did work briefly as a cleaning woman). Neil spoke fluent French, the health care system is excellent, and so on. So, a beautiful place to start but also some practical benefits as well. The book details the decision pretty well I hope.

What is your favourite memory of living in France?

Oh, so many. A bonfire lunch with new friends in the countryside; a magical French and Russian candlelit poetry reading in a small bookstore in our village, Semur-en-Auxois; the smell of the chestnut fires in the fall; standing in the sun in the vineyards of Champagne; our neighbour’s small children calling over the fence for me to come play with them in the morning; wandering the streets of Paris at night. We have so many wonderful moments from our time there that it’s impossible to choose one over the others.

Are you working on another book?

Yes! I just finished a novel. I’ve never written fiction before, so I have no sense if it works or not. It has a similar voice to mine that’s found in Finding Me in France. Whether that works in fiction, well, we’ll see.

After publishing Finding me in France, did your writing process change at all?

Well, before Finding Me in France (the blog and the book), I’d never written anything apart from prescriptions, so I often have trouble seeing myself as a true writer. I’m more of a doodler and a storyteller, maybe it’s the same thing, I don’t know, so I’m not sure I’ve ever had a process. I can say that for both Finding Me in France and the novel, I simply sat at my laptop and tapped out whatever was in my head. Then I went back over it and picked away at it until I liked it or I felt I just couldn’t make it ay better. t do find that reading what I write out loud to someone, usually poor Neil, is incredibly helpful.

Do you have any advice for any young aspiring authors out there?

Hmm. Okay, maybe two things. One, read. Read anything and everything, different genres, books from different cultures and writers with vastly different perspectives. Get inspired and informed by the work of others, expose yourself to the full breadth of language and voice and style. And two, sit down and bang it out. If you start something, give it a middle and an end then revisit it. I always think just finishing something is a major achievement. 

You can follow Bobbi’s adventures on her website at: http://www.findingmeinfrance.com

Interview with J.T Ellison

What if your favourite person in the world, wasn’t who they say they are? What if that person disappeared, turning your life upside down?

From New York Times Best Selling Author, JT Ellison, comes her newest novel, Lie to Me which was highly anticipated amongst crime/thriller readers. While staying true to the theme of domestic noir and a psychological thriller, Ellison’s Lie to Me explores the story of two troubled, complex personalities who are intertwined in a complicated relationship with each other. To add to the intensity of the story – an unnamed character narrates a few short chapters, describing their feelings of revenge, and violence leading to wonder who that narrator actually is.

Ethan and Sutton Montclair are a good looking, rich artistic couple that face an emotional roller coaster of events throughout their relationship… which led to Sutton Montclair disappearing overnight. Ethan is the centre of gossip from friends and family… is he one to blame? Or is he innocent?

 

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J.T,

To start things off simply, what is your favourite book?
I can’t pick just one. I love OUTLANDER, REBECCA, everything by J.K. Rowling, Hills Like White Elephants (I know that’s a story, but what can I say, it’s stunning!)

Favourite writer?

Hemingway, Gabaldon, Harkness, Maas, Silva….. again, too many to count.

You have written multiple novels now and are considered to be looped in the genre of domestic noir and psychological thrillers… where do you find the inspiration for these kinds of stories?

Everywhere. Inspiration is yours for the taking out in the world. Books, songs, people on the street, news events – anything and everything can trigger a story idea. I often can’t help myself, I’ll hear a snippet of conversation and boom – story.

Obviously your books are crime oriented – what type of research do you do before writing a new book?

You know, it depends. Some books need a great deal of research—interviews with the police, FBI, medical examiners, autopsies—and some are very informed by my own experiences, like LIE TO ME. I do like to travel to the places I feature in my books. I feel like setting is so vital to my process, so I like to experience it firsthand so I can lend as much verisimilitude to the story as possible.

After publishing your first book, how did your writing process change?

Well, when you’re writing on deadline you don’t have the leeway you do when you’re first creating your debut, that unique experience of writing in a vacuum. But the biggest change to my process over the years is outlining. I used to solely write by the seat of my pants, but now I do like to have a framework in place. It makes the work go quicker.

And after writing consecutive novels, do you try to be more original, or go after what readers want?

Always, always, always, go for original. If I’m passionate for a story, the readers will be too.

Your latest standalone novel, Lie to Me, features two very troubled characters who are immersed in what seems to be a toxic marriage. Ethan and Sutton both have their sides of their story as to how Sutton’s disappearance happened… but who did you feel the most sympathy for?

Oh, Sutton, hands down. I mean, I love Ethan for all his flaws and his very maleness, and his passion and love for the life he thinks he wants, but Sutton goes through some experiences I can identify with, and her sorrows… you have to have compassion for a woman like that. 

Getting to truly know Ethan and Sutton was very easy thanks to your writing and description – what inspired these two crazy characters?

I wanted to write about a number of things here – but mostly, having writers who lead very different careers within the same house. It fascinates me, I love the dual-writer lifestyle. We live it in my house, too, but ours is much more functional and less competitive than theirs. 

And I always use my novels to work through questions I have about life, and love, and cruelty between people. These are themes in all my stories. I’m fascinated by people’s callousness toward others. 

Out of all the books you have written thus far, which one would you like to see adapted to the big screen?

I think this one works well on the big screen, and I think the Taylor Jackson and Samantha Owens novels would be great on television. Different stories for different formats!

Do you have any advice for any aspiring writers out there?

Read everything you can get your hands on, in and out of your genre, and write every day. The more you write, the more you read, the better your writing becomes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, either. We all do!

https://www.jtellison.com

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Review – Lie to Me by JT Ellison

LIE TO ME – JT ELLISON

RATING: 5/5

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From New York Times Best Selling Author, JT Ellison, comes her newest novel, Lie to Me which was officially released on September 5th 2017 – and was highly anticipated amongst crime/thriller readers. While staying true to the theme of domestic noir and a psychological thriller, Ellison’s Lie to Me explores the story of two troubled, complex personalities who are intertwined in a complicated relationship with each other. To add to the intensity of the story – an unnamed character narrates a few short chapters, describing their feelings of revenge, and violence leading to wonder who that narrator actually is.

They built a life on lies.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair seem like the perfect couple on the outside, but their life isn’t as amazing as it seems. With finances, personal betrayals, and professionalism, they both love and hate each other.

Suddenly, Sutton disappears.
Ethan ends up being the target of horrible gossip, while friends & family speculate what really happened to Sutton Montclair. Is Ethan behind it? Or is he innocent? Is Sutton the one to blame? Or is she truly the victim?

MY THOUGHTS

The intense plot (without giving it away to any potential readers) is an emotional roller coaster to say the least. The story picks up right in the first chapter, and hooks you to the story – and continues to be more intense as the book goes on. The unnamed character who narrates a few chapters throughout the book offers a chilling, and creepy motif in the book. Yes, the extremely good looking, rich couple that is Ethan and Sutton Montclair is a bit far fetched, but Ellison shows that even the seemingly perfect people, can be dark and twisty.

Hands down one of my favourite books of 2017 thus far. Ellison’s writing is brilliant and I love how she was able to offer so much detail in order to really understand the characters in the book. The plot line was well thought out, and at times offered that edge of your seat feeling that won’t allow you to put the book down. I love how in depth, and complicated each character is – they seem to be very troubled and there are so many secrets imbedded in their lives. 

CHARACTERS

Ethan – I love and hate this character. There are times when he is charming, understanding, and loving towards his wife, Sutton. Then, it is like something switches in his mind to be judgemental, aloof, and quite selfish. Despite those characters traits that I associate him with, I do like his honesty with himself and others on who he is as a person.

Sutton – A very interesting character. She is dealing with something traumatic from her past that she keeps as a secret, and has a hard time doing what she wants, but making Ethan happy at the same time. Unlike Ethan who is brutally honest, and quite needy at times, Sutton lies to herself in order to achieve happiness – not for herself, but for others.

Holly – The lead investigator in the disappearance of Sutton Montclair. Holly is sharp, witty, and intelligent, and tries to look beyond what is right there in front of her. At times, she falls into the trap of Ethan’s good looks and charms, but she fights through and tries to find information out of the norm. Holly is a strong female character in the book, and she seems to be the most stable.

OVERALL

If you are a fan of Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl,  or B.A Paris’ latest book, The Breakdown, then I highly recommend that Lie to Me should be your next read. A cinematic, gripping psychological thriller that explores the length people will go to hide their secrets and appear innocent in the public’s eye.

Get Lie to Me at Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, or your nearest bookstore!

Also, stay tuned for my interview with JT Ellison herself in the next couple of days!

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https://www.jtellison.com

The Party with Robyn Harding

Do you remember your 16th birthday party? Was it full of laughs, presents, candy… or were you up to no good? 

“The police were here. They said what happened was a terrible accident, but we’re not responsible…”

In Robyn Harding’s latest novel The Party, a sweet sixteen birthday party goes horribly wrong. Kim and Tom Sanders just wanted to be the “cool” parents, and throw their daughter Hannah a fun but safe birthday party – but when Hannah shows up in her mom’s bedroom covered in blood in the middle of the night.. their entire lives turn upside down. Luckily, Robyn agreed to answer a few questions regarding her highly successful novel from the summer.

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Robyn,

You’ve written quite a few books over the years, and have even written and executive produced an independent film: where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from real life. I like to take events that have happened to me,
or around me, or in the media, and then I twist them into something more dramatic.

Who would you say is your favourite author, and has given you the most inspiration and motivation for writing?

There are so many, but I’ll go with Kate Atkinson. She inspires me in many ways.
First, she’s an incredible writer who creates such real and fascinating characters.
Second, she has the ability to switch genres effectively (from her Jackson Brodie
detective series to historical fiction). And finally, I love how she manages to imbue
humour into even the darkest stories!

What kind of research do you do while working on a new story?

I use the internet! I can’t imagine how writers survived before it. For THE PARTY, I
consulted with a friend who had been involved in a lawsuit so I understood the process
the characters would go through.

What would you say was your hardest book or story to write thus far?

THE PARTY was the hardest book for me to write. My other books were all light and fun
and full of humour. THE PARTY is darker than anything I’d written before. In 2012, I
wrote 70 pages and then left it for three years. I didn’t know if I wanted to immerse
myself in all that drama and strife. I was afraid it might make me depressed. But once
I picked it up again, I got into it. Now, I’m enjoying writing darker material.

Your newest book, The Party, came out just this year, and has had major success – including being chosen as the Staff Pick of the month at Chapters/Indigo – what draws you to write about specific characters? Do you take personality traits from the people you know in real life?

I am so thrilled and grateful for the support from Chapters/Indigo. I like to write
characters with complicated backgrounds. Even if the details don’t make it into the
book, I create biographies for them that inform the way they react to situations.
Sometimes, they are composites of people I know in real life, with some fictional
traits thrown in.

Did you feel any sympathy for any of the characters in The Party? On the surface of things, it seems like a lot of sympathy should go towards Kim Sanders, but who did you feel the most sympathy for?

I feel the most sympathy for Kim Sanders, but not because the accident happens in her
house or because she’s attacked by Lisa Monroe. I think Kim has lost sight of what’s
important in life. She’s so superficial and concerned with appearances, and I don’t
think you can truly be happy that way. Some readers HATE her, but I pity her. Kim does
gain new perspective by the end of the book.

Personally, I find Lauren and Hannah to be the most interesting characters in the book – they seem to have a lot of underlying troubles they are trying to deal with internally. Do you ever think about continuing with The Party as a sequel? Or is that the end for those characters?

I don’t think I will write another book about these characters, but THE PARTY has been
optioned for film. Currently, there is some discussion of a limited series. If that
went ahead and we got a second season, then Hannah’s revenge plan against Lauren could be fleshed out. (I am crossing my fingers for this!)

It seems like drama/thrillers is a very popular genre right now amongst readers: what made you want to write about a Sweet Sixteen birthday party gone wrong?

The idea came from my own teenage children. They were being invited to parties where
alcohol was available, and it made me think about the worst-case scenario of teen
drinking. I didn’t know if this book would sell because its not technically a
thriller. There’s no dead body, no smoking gun . . .. But there is plenty of drama,
and I knew it was a story that I would want to read.

What are you currently working on?

I just handed in a manuscript inspired by Karla Homolka. It’s about a woman who, after
committing a heinous crime in her past, is free, a mom, and trying to live a normal
life in a new community. It explores questions of forgiveness, retribution, and
whether a person can ever really change.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

I suffer physical pain when I write a lot. My shoulders cramp up, my forearms seize,
my back gets sore. I never knew such a sedentary career could be so physically taxing!

And finally…what advice would you have for young, aspiring writers?

Writing is a very, very, very hard business. While most careers have an upwards
trajectory, writing is a roller coaster of ups and downs. There is a lot of criticism
and lot of disappointment. But if you really, really love to write (like I do) then
it’s all worth it!

https://www.robynharding.com

Robyn Harding