Sunday, 23 October 2011

AUTHOR INTERVIEW - CAROLYN MONCEL




            What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Carolyn Moncel.  Currently, we are a family of expatriates! We moved overseas from Chicago, my hometown in 2002 and for exactly five years, I got to be “An American in Paris.” When my husband accepted a job offer in Paris, I packed up my two daughters (ages 5 and 2 weeks at the time), my business, a dog and a cat and joined him! I’ve been living in Lausanne, Switzerland since 2007 with my family.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I come from a family of story tellers. As a child writing gave me a way to entertain myself and expand my imagination. I can’t remember when I started writing stories, but I do remember when and why I stopped. While in college I discovered what George Orwell meant by, “writing being “a horribly exhausting struggle.” So I put it aside briefly and concentrated more on journalism and public relations. Even then, my attraction to those disciplines had to be related to storytelling. I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in Communications; with a minor in political science in 1991 and that is when my career in public relations began. From there I bounced around from PR and Advertising agencies, to public affairs organizations to dot.com companies, finally deciding to open my own company, MotionTemps. It wasn’t until we moved overseas that I started writing again seriously. If I had not become a writer, I would have continued in my career either in public relations or political consulting work.  I still enjoy both immensely, but here’s a little secret:  when I was in college I wanted to become an A&R executive at a record company!

Do you work another job as well as your writing work? 
During the day, I run two companies with offices in Chicago, Paris and Geneva: MotionTemps, LLC, a bilingual Digital Project and Web Content Management firm, and its subsidiary, Mondavé Communications, a media relations training and now, publishing company. At night, I get to create a totally different world through my writing.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Actually, I am working on three projects now. The first is a collection of short stories that are set on the TGV train travelling from Paris to Geneva, Switzerland, a four-hour trip. When people travel, people often reveal very intimate details of their lives. Maybe they do this because they never expect to see the other person again. I want to explore how revealing these secrets transform the characters. The second project is a novel called Geneva Nights.  It will be the last time (for a while) that Ellery ad Julien Roulet appear in any collections, and some new characters will emerge, including a sexy Franco-American named Kai!  However, the project that I’m most excited about right now is a Young Adult novel that I am writing with my teenage daughter.  All that I can say about the main character, Isobel Ballou, is that she 15 years old and delightfully snarky, feisty and extremely opinionated.  She has but one goal and that is to make sure that her parents get divorced as planned. 

What genre would you place your books into? 
Definitely Women’s Contemporary Fiction but my work often contains some genre bending elements.  For example, all of my work also displays flashes of RomCom or ChickLit elements.

   Do you have a favourite character from your books? And why are they your favourite?
     Well, Ellery without a doubt is one of my favourite characters.  She is so interesting and while she has some of my personality traits, her actions both good and bad are all her own.  Next, would be her French husband Julien.  Despite his very bad behavior at times, I have to say that I still have a crush on Julien. The way that he speaks and rationalizes his decisions is quintessentially French. There is a passage in the novella where his wife, Ellery, must confront him. They are sitting in beautiful Parc Monceau and Ellery says something to the effect, “I will not love you again, Julien.” Julien’s response, “I don’t believe you because ‘will’ implies that you ‘could’ if you wanted to. It means that you are still unsure, no?” When I read that aloud to one of my French friends, she laughed so hard. She said, “Now, THAT is a spot on response from a French guy.”

      Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?  
     Yes, both my husband and my sister read the final draft.  They both have an incredible ability to express whether or not a story works from the average readers’ point of view.  I usually make my corrections and then send it to my good friend and editor in Paris.  If it makes it past her inspection than I’m good! 

     Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?  
     Yes, I do – even the bad ones!  I do this because I want to keep improving as a writer.  I welcome feedback from both critics and fans.  This doesn’t mean I will always follow their advice but I will definitely take their opinions into strong consideration.  Every good review blows my mind and every bad one presents itself as yet another opportunity for me to grow as a writer with my next work.  I’m never discouraged.

     What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?  
     The toughest review I ever received came from a highly respected blog reviewer.   While the review was mediocre at best, what I really appreciated was the fact that she took the time to explain the good and bad parts.  As a result she inspired me to push harder to become an even better writer.  I will be grateful to her forever because the critique did not come from a place of malice; but rather out of a sincere desire to see me reach my full potential some day.  The best review came from a book club reviewer.  She gave me the best compliment ever in that she said my characters were universal and anyone regardless of race or gender would be able to relate to their stories.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
I am not sure if I am qualified yet to comment on what makes a good bestseller but I can say what constitutes a good story.  A good story for me is unpredictable. I like stories with logical and satisfying endings; no story twists that force a happy ending. Some stories shouldn’t have one. I like believable characters executing deeds consistent and truthful to their behavior. 

1              Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback? 
       Honestly, I don’t have a preference because in my world, each format has a place.  When I’m at home in bed, I love cracking open a hardback book.  I love being able to throw a paperback into my handbag and read almost anywhere.  When I’m travelling I love being able to download a book from anyplace and read it on my Kindle or iphone.

1            Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? And/or do         Imaginative writing?  
     No, I don’t think so.  I see it with my own children but what I have learned it that it takes a partnership between parents and teachers to get children to read and become more imaginative writers.  One of the reasons why my daughters read is because they have grown up watching their father and me read constantly.  I think writers can do their part in their communities as well. If by speaking our truth, we incite readers to reflect on their own lives, the world around us or view specific circumstances through a different lens, we have done our jobs.  If through our efforts we are fortunate enough to help at least one more person become a life-long reader, then that should be our greatest success. 

1         What do you think about book trailers? 
            I love them!  I have one for each of my books so far.  Here are mine:  5 Reasons to Leave a Lover and   Encounters in Paris.

1        Do you or would you ever use a pen name?  
       Yes, the YA novel I am writing now is under the name Ella Swinton.  I only do this because it is in a different genre from which I normally write and I don’t want to confuse the readers, especially younger ones.

      Where can readers follow you?
Your web site?  http://www.carolynmoncel.com

Thankyou for taking the time out from your writing schedule to take part in this interview!

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