When did you discover writing?
When I was in elementary school. In first grade, a teacher taught us how to make books…writing, illustrating and binding… as an art project. I fell in love with the idea that such a thing could exist and began writing. For my seventh birthday a male cousin gave me a typewriter (Olivetti) as a gift. I emphasize that he was a male cousin because, unlike many budding writers, I was encouraged by both male and female relatives to write books.
How would your classify your self as a writer?
I write about the politics of human relationships. Publishers have also classified my novels from time to time as Romance. It wasn’t until I moved to Europe that readers told me that they classified my novels as erotic literature! I don’t know if the American readers are in serious denial or undeniably repressed! Although I am a writer, painting is also a passion of mine. Mostly, I create large, colorfully bold paintings of the human form. It could be said that I am positively in love with the beauty and expressiveness of the human being…in principle. Writing allows me to also colorfully paint our presence in stories using an additional medium…words.
Do you find writing to be a lonely and isolating profession?
Very. Nevertheless, I have the companionship and support of my spouse and I am fortunate to be able to live and work in breathtaking surroundings…the South of France. The most difficult part of writing, though, is the discipline required in writing. Most mornings when I wake up I pray that when I get to the computer that the book has already managed to write itself. Clean, edited and ready to send out!
Do you consider yourself an expat author? And are there any particular difficulties in being an American writer living abroad?
I don’t like the label “Expat”. The prefix makes me uncomfortable. Makes me think of ex-boyfriends, ex-roommates…you know…that sort of thing… Nevertheless, as a female author, living abroad can bring surprisingly complicated repercussions. Publishers have a tendency to “pigeon-hole” authors. Meaning that if you successfully publish a novel taking place in a particular locale, populated by a particular group of characters, they tend to expect you to continue to write in that category. Business decisions are often conservative decisions based on the previous outcomes of a predetermined target audience’s buying patterns. A change in or broadening of an author’s lifestyle and perspective can result in very challenging consequences, particularly for a female author.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite? I bow to almost anyone who can successfully complete a novel and have some mainstream publisher acknowledge their accomplishments. On the top of my list though, would be John Updike, Erica Jong, James Baldwin; Truman Capote, Terry McMillan, John Irving, and Jay McInerney.
What kinds of challenges do you face as a professional writer?
My situation is quite unusual. In only six months after I submitted my first manuscript to Random House Publishers, I receive a book contract. On what they probably waged my advance was the “hook” of a thinly-veiled celebrity character and the “hot” trend of what was called “chick lit” books at that time. In just three weeks I not only made back my advance but earned a nice piece of change on royalties as well. For my first novel, I had been obviously blessed to have had a top of the line Editor and a “slammin’” Marketing Department in my corner. The life of my second novel, Ladyfingers was different. Companies changed hands. Then as my second manuscript was submitted, disaster struck with the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, while I was living in France. Few editors were interested in a comedy about a bunch of Lotto winners and East Samarian bandits getting into all sorts of shenanigans on the French Riviera! Believe me, no one was laughing over there. After a while Ladyfingers was finally published, but didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the glamour and fanfare of my debut novel.
How do you deal with critics?
Not very well.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you are looking for commercial success, study the books on the bestseller lists. If you are an artist, write what you want and study the craft. Before becoming successful, take martial arts because there will be all kinds of folks out there waiting to beat you up in dark alleys. Also, don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. I believe that we have an obligation to entertain and inform one another adding to the quality of life.
What projects are your working on now?. I am working on a third and forth novel, a screenplay and have numerous ideas for future novels. Ladyfingers, as you know is the second installment of what I call my “Cookie Quartet. It will be followed by Almond Cookie and then Macaroons. I’m sure there will be folks who would challenge the Political Correctness of all this but…hey…I write satire, you know? I am also working on a play and novel of science fiction. Ideas are always forming in my head; Also, there is powerful inspiration here on the French Riviera. The world is an interesting place to write about.
Your novels are humorous. Why have you chosen this tone, yet at the same time use your characters to address very serious issues?
I don’t know. It is just how my mind works. I see no reason to depress people while trying to get my message across. Besides, if they don’t get the message at least they will be entertained. I hope.