A Romance Reader in France
Hi Amanda. It's awesome having you over today. I know from your bio that you grew up in New England and then moved over to France. :) That you got married and now have two bilingual children. Now let's dive into your move abroad and your love of romance books. What's full-time life like over there for a USA born girl? And how has living in France impacted you on the romance book front?
Anyone who is an expat, like I am, probably knows that feeling of fitting in just fine, but it’s not quite like home, either, is it? I’ve lived in France for a total of nineteen years, the last sixteen of which have been consecutive, where “home to the U.S.” meant vacations to visit family, but not settling in for longer. In fact, my entire adult life has been built in France. It’s where I figured out jobs, apartment rentals, insurance, marriage, and parenting. All that “adulting” we talk about and try our best to do.
I have to admit, it wasn’t—and isn’t—always easy. I still long for a big U.S. supermarket, with all the products I grew up with, and where I know I can find the ingredients to those special family recipes that I can’t use here unless I haul a suitcase full of ingredients back with me in the summer (which I usually do). I miss driving on a regular basis, when I could go at my own rhythm and put on a CD and sing along. Here, I’ve always lived in a city and either walk or use public transportation. I miss having a backyard, and easy access to rambling walks in the woods, and schools that would have team sports for my kids. I miss my family most of all, but I’m very thankful for Facetime and Skype. And I miss truly belonging, because even after all this time, I’m not French and don’t necessarily try to be, but I’m not sure I’d fit seamlessly back into being All America again, either.
I’ve been reading romance since I was a teen, but I did have a period when I read less of it. College and post-grad studies took up a lot of time, and I was too busy reading Balzac and Dumas and Hugo for my French degrees to do much reading for pleasure, and then life was a new adventure when I first moved to France permanently in 2001. After I settled into life and work in Paris, though, there came a moment when I started to feel that missing piece. That’s not to say that I was unhappy, because I wasn’t. But there was that feeling of uncertainty sometimes, and especially of not really reacting to things in the same way as other people seemed to. It’s hard to explain. My background setting me apart as the foreigner, I guess. It often felt like there was just one piece of the puzzle missing, but it kind of left a hole in the middle of everything. Romance helped fill that gap for me.
I started reading romance again. A lot. In fact, I may have personally financed the romance sections of the two book stores where I went to buy books in English. I couldn’t devour them fast enough. Finding romance again marked a switch for me. For one, I almost completely stopped reading in French. There were already so many books in English I wanted to read! And maybe I found myself in them again, that part of me that will always think and dream in English, even after twenty years in France. Secondly, they made me happy. It was the escapism I needed, that both swept me away and brought me home. And third, reading them lit a flame in me that eventually turned into, “Hey, maybe I can do this, too.” And so I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and then one day, Catalia Fisa and her fiery world of magic popped into my head, and I knew she was the one.
Now I’m a published author and a romance reader in France. My bookshelves are full, and I read mostly on my Kindle these days, which was frankly a godsend of a device for anyone trying to cram life and a family into a city apartment. At least the last time we moved, we found a place that had actual closets (oh my!), and a small basement unit for storage. Easy access to books in English, and especially romance, is no longer a problem—although my one-click habit might be. I honestly don’t have as much time to read now that I’m working on my own books, though. And I sometimes run into issues where I can’t get the U.S. edition of a novel because of foreign rights complications and then have to wait for a European edition to come out (usually more expensive!). But otherwise, Amazon makes it very easy to be a voracious romance reader in France.
As for being a romance author with much of my readership in the United States, living overseas means traveling great distances to get to writing conferences and conventions. But the time and price are worth it, because the reader and writer events I’ve been to have been some of the best moments of my life. That feeling of belonging I seem to have lost by living abroad? I found it again in the romance community. No matter where I live in the world, it’s with romance lovers that I fit in.
Heart on Fire - The Kingmaker Chronicles, #3
The riveting conclusion to the Kingmaker Chronicles, available January 2018!
Who is Catalia Fisa?
With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.
Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step—reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.
What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger...we hope.
MORE IN THE SERIES: Series to be read in order!
Wife and mother, writer and reader. Author of A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Represented by @jillmarsal @MarsalLyonLit