WHy do you write what you write?

As a writer, my main goal is to make readers dream a little bigger and cause their hearts to beat a little faster. So nothing too serious here, but nothing too bland neither. Expect blogs about books I’ve read (mostly YA fiction, Upper-YA, paranormal romance), love, break-ups, family, friends, growing-up, changing, travelling, college, dreaming, Oxford, England, Paris et cetera, et cetera… Oh, yeah, a few posts on The British Royal Family (aka BRF) as well!

Why did you write The Oxford Saga?

I dived into Harry Potter. I devoured Twilight. Now what? I’m not a teen anymore (humm! haven’t been for a while). But in some unexpected, time-defying ways, I grew up with those heroes. They nurtured my thoughts, my dreams. I cheered for them, cried with them…. and fell in love with them (you, broody vampire, yes you!). I’m now desperate for the next adventure, for the next step in my ‘growing-up.’ ‘Coming-of-age’ doesn’t only happen in high school. A lot of the excitement, joys and heartbreaks also fill those ‘in-between years,’ when you’re legally an adult but don’t always know how to be one. Or why you should even try to be. But hardly any book deals with this transition into the ‘big bad’ world, about these life-changing, earth-shattering ‘first-times.’ The first time we leave home, our family, our parents, the friends we grew up with, but didn’t always choose. The first home, the first job, the first real love. I want to write about those days, those years, and share the stories with you. Unfortunately, the publishing industry (agents and editors) seems to think the “New Adult” (or Upper-Young-Adult, or Mature YA) isn’t a viable market. Apparently, noone is interested in reading about 18-23 yo protagonists. I beg to differ… You may be experiencing these emotions right now… or you lived through them some time ago and want to understand how and why they define who you are now. Come, come away with me. First stop, Oxford University, England.

Something personal about you?

I live in London, have been for almost 11 years. But I didn’t grow up here, I grew up in the South of France… and I was born in West Africa. Yes, a Citizen of the World! I was also very lucky to study in amazing cities all around the world: Vienna, Paris, Cape Town, Oxford, Berlin. A lot of material for future books… My first job was in finance in the City of London. I spent a few years there, working crazy hours. Then, I decided to become an entrepreneur, got married with a Brit, and had a baby girl. EDIT: Another baby girl has arrived in the household and my husband seems to be very content with being the only man in the family 😉

How long have you been writing?

Like almost every writer out there, I have wanted to write MY WHOLE LIFE. The idea for The Oxford Saga came to me when I studied at Oxford, in my early twenties. I kept on thinking about it, but doing nothing to make it take life until… the characters had become so loud in my head that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. So yes, I’ve wanted to write my whole life. I’m sure some of the people reading this have or had the same dream. So believe in yourself and JUST DO IT.

Your favorite city?

New York City. I have a special weakness for Cape Town, but I will have to choose NYC. It is still the place where your dreams can come true, whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever language you speak, rich, poor… Okay, maybe I am being a little ‘blue sky’ here. Alicia Key’s New York amazing song plays a lot in my home. I was super lucky and saw her in a private concert a few years back.

And let’s not forget my hometown, London. It’s my home, my anchor, my roots… So quite ambivalent about it: love, hate, tenderness, boredom… I guess lots of people feel the same about their home.

Your favorite songs?

There are so many of them. I had a ball while writing The Oxford Saga because I indulged shamelessly in my favorite musics: Country and English Rock (or maybe I should say Pop, not sure). Why? The heroine-Madison Lebon-is from Louisiana and studies in Oxford… So to list a few on my mp3: The Script, The Kooks, The Hoosiers, Blur, Paolo Nutini, Muse, Keane, Thomson Square, Mumford & Sons, Dixie Chicks… Bands mostly, although I listened to Jake Owen’s Alone With You recently and liked the boy’s perspective on ‘one night stands’. And it’s because it’s about full-disclosure here: I am a total fan of One Republic

Your favorite movies?

Humm, that’s a difficult one again. The all-time classics Gone With The Wind and Casablanca, for sure. I’m going to have to say Twilight (but only the first one, directed by the fantastic Catherine Hardwicke: I love that chick btw). Sorry not very original. Two of my all-time favorites were Peter Weir’s Dead Poets’ Society and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. I’m probably giving way too many clues of my age here. But if you haven’t seen that movie, please rent it, download it, whatever… And in case there’s a soundtrack available for Before Sunrise, buy it! I like most Almodovar’s movies. The Life of Others made a big impression on me a few years ago. And on a lighter note, the latest rom-com always (most of the time) cuts it for me: do you remember Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon? Loved that movie. It has all the right ingredients: a punchy pace, likable heroes, well-placed plot twists… and good old Dixie. I’d like to say that I like a recent movie with Jennifer Aniston, but I can’t… Nothing compared to her The Good Girl and The Object of My Affection.
True Blood (if anyone has an obsession with Alexander Skarsgard, please shout!). I like to think Oxford Whispers’ Madison LeBon is a bit of an ‘Ivy-League Sookie Stackhouse’. Btw, if you haven’t listened to Snoop Dogg’s Oh Sookie, watch this.

Awesome and hilarious, if not a bit… well, it’s Snoop Dogg after all. Law & Order, especially the very old ones, where everyone had a funny haircut (and yes, ‘Big’ does make the whole police procedural much tastier). Criminal Minds. Downtown Abbey (the first season would teach any aspiring writer what a cliffhanger is). I used to be a fan of The Vampire Diaries, but the Helena’s character is putting me off (and the actress as well, but please shout if you disagree). And as you can see with the title of one of the pages here, Friends.

Your favorite books?

Anything by Shakespeare. You can’t really do better, can you? Agatha Christie and Daphnee du Maurier. I fell in love with fiction when I was twelve and read the first book in the North and South trilogy. That’s how I also fell in love with The South. And of course, the Harry Potters and Twilights… along with the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires, Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry, Tammara Webber’s Easy, Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street, Abbi Glines’s While It Lasts, and SC Stephens’s Thoughtless. And if you have not yet picked a book by K.A. Tucker, well hurry up! I’m a massive fan of her flawless writing and the characters you take with you after the last page. Something to aspire to as a writer…

Why did you choose self-publishing? And what have you learned so far?

I have learned three lessons in my writing journey so far… First, READ. In your genre, outside your genre. Figure out for yourself what you think is good or bad fiction. Second, LISTEN. If you can afford to go to a writers’ conference, then do it… But there are also many other opportunities to learn online (see the suggestions below). The best step I took in my writing career was to join The Romance Writers of America. I am part of the YA, Paranormal, and Kiss Of Death chapters. They offer countless workshops (craft, writers life, publishing) and writing bootcamps. I met some amazing ladies who shared with me their gift, experience and wiseness. I also made friends who have provided me with unwavering support. RWA is a home for me. I do mean it. Another helpful organization is the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Third, TALK. Writing is also a business, so seize opportunities to network with your peers and readers. Be professional. And try and enjoy the process.