1- Can you tell our readers what to expect from your current collection Freedom Fries and Café Crème?
Some uncomplicated reading that should be entertaining, showing mainly that eating well can bring joy to life and with a few amusing cross-cultural situations. These differences should not be seen as a burden or a divisive factor between societies, but rather should bring enrichment. On a more serious tone, the stories also delve into the difficulty experienced by many of the characters to interact with others in today’s complex, fast-paced, ever-changing world. Each story deals with a couple, sometimes others, who live mainly in the Northeast U.S. or in France. The themes centre on the characters’ relationships with each other, and their connection to food.
2- The book is very unique, where did the inspiration come from?
Writing is a hobby for me. This particular book wasn’t a real project at the beginning: just a way to relax with a few characters of my own creation on topics I enjoy. My family and friends always appreciate what I cook for them and liked the little stories I was writing, so the shape of the book happened naturally without really thinking of getting it published. Most of the inspiration for my writing comes from people’s behaviour, whether they happen to be in the street or in their kitchen.
3- How important is food in your personal and social life?
I’m from a family where at breakfast we talk about what will have for lunch according to what we will find and buy at the market, and at lunch what will already look forward to preparing dinner. I also believe that the best restaurant is at home, and that the kitchen is the most important room of the home. I wish more people appreciated the joy of cooking; it can be quite therapeutic and it’s better for health in general than eating out. I really like having family or friends over and cook for them the same way I like to be invited to their homes when they cook for me. I can spend a lot of time seated at a table enjoying the food, wine and conversation. I’m a big fan of homemade cooking. I also pay a lot of attention to what I eat since I believe it’s one of the keys for good physical and mental health.
4- How good are you at cooking?
No bad I suppose but it’s hard to judge myself so I asked a few people: according to them my cooking is a combination of creative, chic, original, very tasty, international, eclectic, can do marvels from nothing – I’m the queen of leftovers. What I like most is to open the fridge and see what I can cook with what I have on hand. Cooking is more fun this way than just following a recipe. I’ve actually a hard time following recipes to the letter and I always feel compelled to add my personal touch.
5- When did you know you wanted to write a romance novel?
I didn’t really think about it. I simply wrote about people who have things in common – to create interactions of different kinds among the characters. I don’t think the romance was really the focus of the book. And I don’t like conflict so I’d rather have characters that get along most of the time. But with food around, romance isn’t ever far away since a dinner is very often the beginning of a romance.
6- Did you always know that it would have a common link of food?
For this book yes, I suppose so. Since for me writing is about what you know and enjoy, it came easily.
7- How much research did you have to put into the different cities in which your stories are set?
None because I’ve lived or spend some time at all places mentioned in the book: so it’s all from direct experience and memories.
8- Why did you decide to write short stories as opposed to a novel?
I had too many characters and different stories in my mind that could have never fitted in one novel.
9- What advice could you give to short story writers?
I don’t think I’m an expert to give such advice but in a short story you have to stick to only a few characters and one plot. So I guess the only advice I can give is “keep it simple”.
10- How do you go about writing successfully about the sights, smells and tastes of food?
I’m very sensitive to smells and tastes as well as the visual aspects of food wherever I am. I’m more interested in a food shop or an outdoor market than any other shops, whether in my own neighbourhood or travelling in an unknown, exotic city: the smells and the colours represent the life of a place. When I cook the aromas that escape from food are really therapeutic for me – they bring me back to earth and project me into country side.
11- What future projects do you have lined up?
I’m working on a novel that takes place in southwest London.
Interview by Lucy Walton