|France et Moi interview with author Karen Clarke|
Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week to coincide with the release of the first book in her French Café series, I am talking to author Karen Clarke about what France means to her. You can read my review of Escape to the Little French Café here.
Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children where she writes romantic comedy novels.
Over the years she’s been a secretary/bookkeeper, a wedding photographer, a pub manager, worked in a supermarket, a newsagent's, and as a librarian - all good for story ideas.
She now writes full-time, and is the author of the popular BEACHSIDE and SEASHELL COVE series. When she’s not writing Karen reads a lot, enjoys walking - which is good for plot-wrangling and ideas - watching boxsets, baking and eating cakes.
France et Moi
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’?
Karen: Everything about it, from the culture to the landscape, the appreciation of food and wine, and the respect for work/life balance – and the sunshine. Oh, and eating snails!
2) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?
Karen: It has to be my honeymoon in Paris, for obvious reasons. It was my first time in France, and I remember being amazed by the Eiffel Tower, which was taller than I was expecting.
3) How does France inspire your writing?
Karen: The language definitely inspires a sense of romance, and I was drawn to the Ile de Ré in particular by its vista of wild beaches, cobbled streets and pretty harbours, and knew I had to set a story there.
4) The first novel in the French Café series has just been released, but if you were sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what would you order from the waiter?
Karen: Like Natalie in my book, it would have to be a milky coffee and pain au chocolat (or two!)
5) Do you have a favourite treat to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie?
Karen: Definitely a plump chocolate éclair, oozing with chocolate crème patissiere.
6) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tomme, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?
Karen: It would have to be the goat’s cheese, though I’d prefer to eat a Roquefort.
7) In Escape to the Little French Café, your character Nat finds herself up against a couple of French women, what do you think makes French women different to us and gives them that je ne sais quoi?
Karen: I think French women seem to have nailed looking stylish in an effortless way I’d love to emulate!
8) Ile de Ré, the setting of Escape to the Little French Café is one of my favourite places to explore by bike. If you were to take a day off from writing, would we find you on your bike in France?
Karen: It would definitely be the Ile de Ré, cycling through the salt marshes and along the coast between Saint Martin and Loix. I’m not very sporty (or good on a bike) so it would be perfect as the terrain is mostly flat!
9) If money and commitments were no object where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?
Karen: If money were no object, I’d buy a villa in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré overlooking the sea (I do like to be beside the sea).
10) Do you have any plans to visit France again soon?
Karen: I plan to visit the Ile de Ré with my husband in the not too distant future.
Finally, can you whet our appetites and give us a hint about what things we can expect from book two in the series?
Karen: In Summer at the Little French Café, Elle Matheson is in Chamillon looking for her birth mother, and ends up accidentally working at the Café Belle Vie, fighting an attraction to a sexy fisherman.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you. I can’t wait to read more in the French Café series.
Karen: Thank you so much for inviting me, Jacqui, I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.