As part 2 of my post for the blog tour, I am excited to have a Q&A with the author of Cocktails at Le Carmen, Isabelle Andover. If you missed part 1 of my post, you can find it here
Hi Isabelle, a big welcome from us over at Curious Ginger Cat and thank you for taking the time to do a little Q&A for our readers.
- To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, Cocktails at Le Carmen?
Hello! Thank you for having me on your blog. Cocktails at Le Carmen centres around Chloe, an English girl in her 20s, whose life is turned upside down when her company unexpectedly transfers her to Paris. It’s a novel about finding your feet—and a whole lot more—in an unfamiliar city, with plenty of laughs and adventures along the way.
- Who was your favourite character to write in the book and why?
Ooh this is a tough one. Obviously I love Chloe, but I think I’d have to say Rosie–a half French, half English girl who Chloe becomes friends with in Paris. She’s quite blunt and tells it like it is, so I had a lot of fun writing her.
- Are there any similarities between you and the main character, Chloe Saddler, other than being an English girl in Paris?
There are a few–we both love eating, and some things that happen to her are inspired by real life events. She’s a lot better at walking in heels than I am, though.
- The story is set in Paris which, I understand, is where you currently live. What is your one favourite thing about life in Paris?
I’m not sure I have just one favourite thing about life in Paris, but I’d probably say the fact that the city is just so pretty. I still walk around and think wow. I feel so lucky being able to live here.
- If you were casting Chloe in a movie, and had the whole acting world at your feet, who would you cast?
I’d say Felicity Jones. Like crazy is one of my favourite films. I like that the dialogue in it was almost completely improvised. She apparently had to do her own hair and make-up, too, which fits well with the fact Chloe is very down-to-earth.
- How do you plan to celebrate the publication day for Cocktails at Le Carmen?
With champagne and cheese straws and a bunch of fellow expats. Now that it’s summer, it’s so nice to go and sit down by the Seine or the canal in the evenings.
- This is your debut novel, how did you start your journey to be a published author?
I kind of always had the idea that I’d write a book, but what really helped turn this idea into reality was posting my work on Wattpad. It’s an amazing community and it really keeps you motivated. When Wattpad launched a ChickLit category in 2013, I decided to enter the short story competition that was being judged by Marian Keyes, one of my favourite authors.
I didn’t win (I was a finalist), but people were reading my story and seemed to like it, so I decided to post Cocktails at Le Carmen on there while I was writing it. Comments from readers helped shape the plot, which was fantastic—like having hundreds of beta readers. Wattpad is also great for discovering new authors. I read quite a few stories from writers on there who have now gone on to be traditionally published or have gone down the self-publishing route.
- What’s your writing process? Do you plan/plot the story or just start writing and see where it takes you? If you plan, how do you do it – notebooks, Post-It notes etc…?
With Cocktails at Le Carmen, I had a vague idea of the story in my mind. I did plan it out, but I soon realised that if I stuck to the plan, the story would be over in about 12 chapters and would probably be incredibly boring. I’m much better at just starting to write and seeing what happens–this is definitely the more exciting approach. Having said that, this way isn’t the quickest, so for my next book I’m trying to plan things out a bit more.
- Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who may be reading this? Anything that works great for yourself?
I think the most important thing is you just have to sit down and write—this isn’t always easy; there are a million and one things that could seem more urgent, but it’s the best advice I can give. “You can’t edit a blank page” is my mantra. Once you’ve got a few chapters, it’s easy to read them back through and see what works and what doesn’t, where you need to add detail, and where you need to cut things out. While it’s not always possible, it’s good to write every day to keep the momentum going.
I’d also advise people to read as much as possible in the genre they want to write in. It’s fun and it counts as research, so it’s win-win.
- Were you a big reader before becoming a writer?
Yes! Voracious. I was always reading. I find it really difficult to sit through an entire film, but a good book can have me absorbed for hours.
- Do you get much time to read yourself? If so, what are some of your recent favourite books or favourite authors?
I still read a lot. I’ve recently discovered Mhairi McFarlane–You had me at hello is amazing. Indie author Maggie Le Page’s The Trouble With Dying is a great read, and I’ve just started reading Love at First Flight, the debut novel from Australian author Tess Woods.
I have a lot of favourite authors–Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella are probably my favourites.
- What’s your favourite way to relax when you’re not busy writing?
Reading a good book with my cat (he doesn’t read, he usually sleeps, but it’s nice to have the company)
- Finally, what’s coming next for your readers or is top secret for now?
I’m working on book two–it’s not top secret but I’m still undecided on a few key elements, so whatever I say now will probably have completely changed by next week!
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for our Curious Ginger Cat readers. It’s been great to find out more about you and your debut novel, Cocktails at Le Carmen.