Interview with Expat author - Veronique Martin-Place
We first interviewed Veronique in French, "De Lyon à Chicago: Expat Forever". Since that time, she has moved to China and continues to offer expert advice.
My name is Veronique Martin-Place. I am from Lyon in France and I am currently living in China.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I am an accompanying spouse. My husband works for the French Foreign Affairs.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
Yes, I am a fulltime writer and I try to make my living as a writer! And it requires a lot of work.
My first book Finding Your Feet In Chicago – The essential guide for expat families was released at the end of the summer 2012.
It is the perfect match for families relocating to Chicago. Everything they need to help them settle into the US third largest city is here from practical aspects to cultural and intercultural topics. This book targets expat families who wish to settle fast and well.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published?
Before moving to Chicago in 2008, we decided that our children will attend an American school. Once there, I encountered an education and school culture shock. Everything was different and not always comprehensible even if I spoke the language! I thought this relocation was going to be an easy one for three main reasons: it was not my first time abroad, I knew the language of my host country and last but not least I thought there weren’t so much cultural differences between France and the US. I was completely wrong. After several cultural shock experiences at my daughters’ school, I noticed I was not the only one having troubles. Several families moved almost at the same time as us from different part of the world to Chicago. We all had the same problems regarding family and child’s topics. We were all searching for the same information and advice. Therefore I started looking for a local guide for expat families and there was none. So I decided to write Finding Your Feet In Chicago to help current and future relocated families.
4. Did you go to a publisher or self-publish?
First, I did a survey about the topic and the market. Then, I contacted a publisher to pitch the idea. Of course, I selected a publisher specialized on expat topics and life abroad.
5. How long did it to take from conception to publication?
It took one year and a half!
6. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format?
According to me, the hardest part was editing the manuscript and rewriting it. In other words, all the back and forwards between me and my publisher until it was good enough to be published! It is a never ending process and you have to be really patient and determined.
7. Did you blog before writing your book?
I started my blog, Expat Forever, in 2009 and the book was written between 2011 and 2012. My blog deals with expatriation in general and all topics related from an active accompanying spouse point of view. Of course, I wrote and still write a lot about my stay in Chicago.
8. What is your perception of the expat book market? Has it changed throughout the process?
I think the expat book market is expanding and it will still grow because more and more people are willing to live abroad. The only thing is that most of the books are in English, which sounds quite logical when you know the expat community. Nevertheless, not everybody likes to read in English, especially if this is not your mother tongue. So a lot of thing can still be done and especially written.
9. What is your favorite part of the book?
My favorite part of the book is “Becoming a local”. In it, I explain how and where children and parents can learn or improve their English skills, how new expat families can connect with local and American families, but also how to become a local by following traditions, immersing you in local sport activities.
In the Midwest, the weather has a deep impact on family life and its activities. The winters are long and very cold whereas the summer can be warm and humid. Therefore I give a lot of information and tips about how to stay active under these weather conditions.
Also the book is filled with testimonials from expat parents who share their experiences and advice about how to settle well and fast in the Windy city.
10. What was the most difficult part to write?
None were more difficult to write than another.
11. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
Be passionate and research a lot before starting to write, especially if you are a non-fiction writer.
12. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
I work mainly on the promotion of the book by doing interviews like this one and writing articles related to my book. So if anyone out there is interested in interviewing me, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And yes, I want to write and publish more books. I have ideas but it is a bit too soon to talk about it right now.
Veronique is a freelance writer and blogger. She is the author of Finding Your Feet In Chicago – The essential guide for expat families. Her book can be found on the Amazon websites and is available in paperback and kindle edition.