Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week, as part of the launch for her new novel, Just for the Holidays, I am talking to author Sue Moorcroft about what France means to her.
Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Christmas Promise was a Christmas 2016 best-seller, rising to #1 in the Amazon Kindle chart; The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.
Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and writing ‘how to’.
Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?
Sue: I have to say that I approve of wine and the civilised practice of sitting in the sunshine to drink it. The cakes made a big impression on me, too. There seems a lot of room for the rural idyll in France.
2) Your latest novel, Just for the Holidays, is set in Alsace. When you are researching a novel set in France, do you like to spend time in that area?
Sue: I’d love to say it was the result of careful thought but it was because a friend of mine moved there and was kind enough to say I could visit. Until then, I’d intended to set the book in the Dordogne, which I’d visited a couple of times in recent years.
3) What makes Alsace special enough to be your chosen location?
Sue: It has a personality all of its own, probably from its mixed history with Germany. The names of places and people sound (to my English ear) more German than French. In fact, an Alsatian friend who read the book for me, told me that many of the family names I’d chosen were ‘too French’ and gave me Alsatian substitutes. I met with nothing but friendliness when I was in Alsace.
4) From the title we can guess your characters are on holiday in France, do you have any special memories of a holiday in France?
Sue: A camping holiday over 20 years ago, clear across the country in Brittany, near Carnac. We went over there towing a trailer tent, got lost and almost ran out of petrol. Some tipsy men from a village wedding got the local garage owner out of the celebrations to open his fuel pumps for us and set us back on the right road. It turned out that one of the men spoke good English but had been so entertained listening to my French (which is more Franglais) that he hadn’t wanted to tell me.
5) With plenty of space and lovely scenery France is a great place to explore by bike. If, like Alister in your novel, you were to take off on your bike, where would you like to go?
Sue: Somewhere flat! Cycling is much more an Alister thing than a Sue thing. I like walking, though, and love the beautiful countryside of the Dordogne, where the vineyards march across the sunny slopes.
6) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite, what is your favourite French city and why?
Sue: Strasbourg is fantastic (and I don’t think I saw a single dog poo). The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is so awesome that there are rows of deck chairs outside just so people can sit and look at it. I thoroughly enjoyed my days in Strasbourg, walking through the beautiful city streets and taking a trip up the canal. I may have also visited a patisserie.
7) Every region in France has it’s own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish? (Doesn’t have to be from Alsace!)
Sue: It is from Alsace, though – Flammenküche, which is like an incredibly thin pizza. I loved the goat cheese and honey one.
8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tome, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?
Sue: Definitely goat cheese. Versatile, too!
9) What is your favourite thing to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie?
Sue: Pain au chocolat. It makes several appearances in Just for the Holidays!
10) Best French tipple, and yes I know there are many to choose from?
Sue: Cremant d’Alsace. A really lovely fizzy white. I could be seduced away from that with champagne, though …
Finally can you tell us a little bit about Just for the Holidays?
Sue: It’s the story of what happens to Leah when she ends up in France looking after her sister’s husband and children, having gone through life avoiding having a husband and children of her own. She does allow herself to be distracted by grounded helicopter pilot Ronan next door - but then he gets an uninvited guest who changes everything.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.
Sue: You’re very welcome and thank you for inviting me! It has been a pleasure.
Just for the Holidays is published by Avon Books UK and is available in paperback and ebook format, links to Amazon can be found below. Pop back here on Sunday to read my review.
You can read more about Sue on her website and blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram