Interview with Expat Author - Vicki Lesage
Bonjour! I’m Vicki and I’m currently surviving French bureaucracy and exorbitant rent in the grand city of Paris. I love it and I can’t leave it, though sometimes I wonder if I should!
1. Why did you move abroad?
I moved here for a summer, which has morphed into nearly 10 years. I was freshly single and unceremoniously dumped from my job, so I figured with my newfound freedom, I’d see what life in the City of Light was like. The plan was to return to my hometown of St. Louis soon after, but I haven’t quite made it back yet.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
I work full-time as an IT Manager, and write whenever I can. I also recently launched a boutique publishing house with fellow author Adria J. Cimino, called Velvet Morning Press. So when I’m not working my day job or taking care of my two young kids, I’m reading, writing, and editing. I also write for several online publications, as if my head wasn’t spinning enough already!
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
I’d been blogging for years and my fans (all three of them) suggested I write a book. My mom, author Elle Marie offered to format and publish it. All I needed to do was select the blog posts. Famous last words! Once I dove into the project I realized that blog-to-book was going to make for a flat, boring read. So I wrote the whole thing from scratch, referring to my blog posts to help me remember the details (“What exactly did the guy at the flower store say? Oh yeah, ‘You can’t order your flowers 3 months in advance because I could be dead by then!’”) but not really reusing any actual text. After beta reading, editing, formatting, cover design, and a few more rounds of editing, I published my memoir, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl.
4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
Shoot, I should have read this question before answering the last question! The hardest part for me was tying the story together so that people who didn’t know me and didn’t read my blog could still relate to the story. One of my editors said, “You need to make the main character more likeable.” Yikes! The main character is me! But I saw what she meant. Without the background of having read my blog, it was hard to tell that I’m actually a nice person that loves living in France, who occasionally gripes about the oddities and annoyances. I needed to make that come across better in the book.
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
When I initially queried agents, they said the “girl in France” book market is saturated. Yet I’ve managed to sell my book and get rave reviews, so clearly there’s a market for it. I think part of the reason is that my book reads a bit like chick-lit (and the cover speaks to that genre), so even though it’s a true story of my life in Paris, my audience isn’t strictly limited to memoir-readers.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
I love re-reading my horrific adventures in drinking. Now that I’m married with two kids, my drinking days are long behind me. I like remembering just how crazy and stupid I was. Those parts are definitely my mom’s least favorite!
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
All the mushy parts with my (spoiler alert, in case you couldn’t tell from my last name) boyfriend-now-husband. I had to show the progression of our relationship but I don’t like sharing the sappy stuff. But if I don’t, then my characters are flat. I compensated by adding lines like “Man, we could be in a cheesy romantic comedy with lines like that” but my editors had me take a lot of those out. I guess they can stomach the romance a little more than me!
8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. Sometimes I’ll find myself just sitting there thinking about the book. It had a huge impact on me. I may say I don’t like romance but that book is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.
9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
Write it! Many expats spend years blogging, building an audience and generating material, waiting for the perfect moment to start. Start now! That’s the only way to see if you really have it in you. Once you get started, the ideas will come and the project will take on a life of its own. And if not, then at least you’ll know writing a book isn’t for you.
10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
I published a sequel in May 2014, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer. I wrote that one while I was on bed rest, pregnant with my daughter. While it was a scary time, I made the best of it by having such a fun project to work on! I finished the book while I was in the hospital after she was born; the last chapter is about her so obviously I needed to wait for her to be born!
Now it’s going to be harder to find time to write my next book, with my 2 ½-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter to take care of. But I’m planning to start soon on the next book in the Confessions series, this time about mishaps in my travels across Europe.
I also just published and contributed to an anthology about Paris called That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in the City of Light. The stories in the collection are fiction and non-fiction, hilarious and heartwarming, happy and hopeful. It’s a fun book that I’m happy to be a part of. It includes a foreword by author Stephen Clarke, and author proceeds go to the charity Room to Read.
Find out more about Vicki on her blog about life, love, and sarcasm in Paris, VickiLesage.com. Buy her books, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl and Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer at Amazon (print and ebook).