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1 November 2013

Interview with author Melanie Jones!


Today I'm delighted to welcome author Melanie Jones to 'A Spoonful of Happy Endings' to talk about her novel 'L'Amour Actually', what inspires her, her second novel, and to give some tips for aspiring writers! 

Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘L’Amour Actually’?
L’Amour Actually follows the trials and tribulations of a young twentysomething woman who moves to France on a whim and a prayer. With no knowledge of life there, apart from the experience of a dreadful school exchange trip to Paris, she sets off  with a suitcase full of dreams and inappropriate footwear.  With only the English Channel to separate them, life can’t be too dissimilar to the UK can it? The reality, of course, is rather different.

You incorporated part of your own life experiences in the book, can you tell us more about that?
I’ve been lucky enough to have led a very full life and I seem to be the sort of person that things happen to so I had a wealth of funny stories which I incorporated into the book. Some of them were changed slightly, some of then were recounted exactly as they happened. A few times during editing a comment was made that some things seemed a bit far-fetched. They were always the stories that were completely true. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction

If you had to pick one thing you love most about France, what would it be? 
I think it would have to be the night markets and fetes that are held in the summer. Long tables would be put out in the square and everyone would sit together to eat and drink. Local food producers  would have stalls selling everything from paella (we were in the old Occitan area where the Spanish influence is strong), local wines and cheeses, often some sort of creole cooking. On a beautiful, balmy night you couldn’t be anywhere better. Our village’s Bastille Day fete was always brilliant. It’s featured in L’Amour Actually.

What made you decide to start writing your own novel about your experiences? 
When I lived in France I started a blog. It was my dad’s idea and it was really just done as a record of my life for my friends and family. Within a few months it was getting a thousand hits a month (and not all of them were my mum!). People seemed to like what I wrote. I had always wanted to write a novel. I’d tried a few times in the past but never got very far. When I moved back to England, I was approached by an agent who wanted me to write a ‘counter-intuitive’ book about life in France. I had to go and look up counter-intuitive! In the end, I decided to write more fictional account of my life in France because that way I could be more inventive with the characters but more importantly, not upset anyone. People don’t generally like to be written about.

There’s a great mix of characters in the novel. Besides Mel, which character did you most enjoy writing about and why? 
Tracey, definitely. She’s a great character and I had so much fun with her. She is the only character in the book who is completely fictitious and she sprang into my imagination almost fully formed.  She gave me a great opportunity for some fabulous storylines.  All the other characters were inspired by some of the people I knew in one way or another.

Do you have any plans for a next novel? If so, can you give us a sneak peak about what it will be about?
Yes, the second one is underway. Although I have had lots of requests for another book about France, maybe even a sequel, I don’t want to be a ‘one trick pony’. Writing about France is easy for me and I want to challenge myself a bit. The next book is about a women in her 40s who finds herself suddenly single when her husband leaves her. She has to rebuild her life and decides she wants to track down all the people who were, in some way, important in her life at some point; all the people who left handprints on her heart. It will involve lots of travel so it gives me another opportunity to put down some of the funny things that happened to me when I was an air stewardess.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? 
I’m asked that question a lot and my answer is always the same. Get your story down. It’s very easy to get caught up in re-reading and editing every time you open your laptop but that means that the story doesn’t get written. There’s plenty of time for editing once you’ve finished it but if you never finish it… And don’t get too wrapped up with planning. Everyone writes differently, I’m a ‘seat of your pants’ writer. I know where the story starts, a few points along the way, and where it ends but everything else that happens is just as much a surprise to me.  Each November I do a thing called NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, where you challenge yourself to write 50,000 words between 1st and 30th November. It’s great for training yourself just to write. L’Amour Actually would probably never have got finished if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo.

And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘L’Amour Actually’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
I’ve cheated a little bit and taken the three words that appear most frequently in my Amazon and Goodreads reviews: Hilarious, touching and brilliant. My own would probably be romance, suspense and humour.

Thanks to Melanie for taking the time for this interview! :) Be sure to check out her fabulous novel 'L'Amour Actually' on Amazon by clicking here!

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