Jo Parfitt Interviews Véronique Martin-Place, author of Finding Your Feet In Chicago about her latest book
Jo: Your first book was in English and about your expatriate experience in Chicago. You have changed languages and genres. How did these experiences differ from each other? What did you learn about yourself as a writer along the way?
Véronique: The context was completely different! For Finding Your Feet in Chicago, I was living in the US while writing it. Everything around me was in English. So writing in the language of Shakespeare was obvious to me. For Journal d’une ado expatriée, I was living in China and I longed to be back home, in France. So I needed to express myself in my mother tongue. I also knew I would be more effective and that I would pass more emotion using French than English.
Along the way I learned that my readership was more French people living abroad and Francophones than English speaking people. Books in English for expats were numerous but books in French for the French expat community, not that much, especially for young readers. I was often asked why I wrote Finding Your Feet in Chicago in English and not in French, if a French version was available or if I was going to do a translation sooner or later!
Also changing genres might be surprising for professionals within the publishing field but I have to confess that I knew before writing Finding Your Feet in Chicago that I wanted to write youth literature. I thought I couldn’t. I thought I had to go through steps, like writing non-fiction to test myself first. Now, I know it was a ridiculous idea. But sometimes, fears are stronger. I guess it was my path. Now, I know the shortcuts ! I trust myself more as a writer and I do what I like.
Jo: Where do you think your true writer’s voice lies? In French? In English? In non-fiction or fiction?
Véronique: I believe my true writer voice lies in French, my mother tongue. Regarding the genre, I feel confident both in fiction and non-fiction. But regarding fiction, I want to write mainly for children, teenagers and young adults.
Jo: What gave you the idea of writing a book like this? Where did your inspiration come from?
Véronique: At the beginning, I wanted to write a picture book about expatriation in French. I registered for an French online writing course on children writing. During the classes we wrote for all the age ranges. But the last writing prompt was to write the first chapter of a book for pre-teens (9-12 years old). I tried my idea of a book for expat pre-teen and that is how it all started!
At this time, I was living in China and my elder daughter and her friends were just within this age range. I could observe and listen to them. Nevertheless the action of the book doesn’t take place in China but in the US. So I also remembered anecdotes that friends told me when I was living in Chicago. Moreover I have read a lot of books about expatriation. So it helped me to know what were going to be the main steps of the story.
Jo: Finding Your Feet in Chicago was published by Summertime Publishing a few years ago and was accepted after you sent a synopsis only. Tell me about your process this time?
Véronique: This time I wanted to give a try to self-publication. I chose to do it with Amazon’s CreateSpace for the paperback version of the book and Kindle Direct Publishing for the electronic version.
Once I was finished with the writing, I sent the book to a freelance editor to make sure there were no spelling or other errors . Then I hired an illustrator for the drawings of the front and back cover. I also hired a book designer for the final cover and the inside design of the book. Once this was done, I went to my Create Space and KDP platforms and followed the process. There was some back and forth between the book designer and me while upoading the document to the CS platform but beside this it went smoothly.
Jo: What next for your writing?
Véronique: I am working on two projects, both in French. The first one is an anthology about parenting abroad with a specific angle. The second one is a children’s book for a French publisher.
Jo: You have daughters, yes? What do they think about their mum writing a book like this?
Véronique: Yes, I have two daughters and both are now teenagers. When I started to write the story they were very supportive and younger. By the time the book was published, they were older and their interest lay elsewhere, especially regarding reading. They are both avid readers but they are more into spy stories, crime novels and fantasy. My elder one also loves historic novels and reads adult literature. They both prefer to read in English, since they spent most of their young lives abroad and attended American and English schools. So reading in French a story that was about expat life, something they knew well, was not especially appealing ! But yes, they read Mum’s book! Otherwise, they are my first fans ! Now, they keep asking me when the next book will be out !
Jo: What advice would you give any new writer about experimenting with a new genre?
Véronique: I would advise to read a lot of books within the new target genre. I would also encourage them to try this new genre out by registering on a writing course in this genre too. Practise makes perfect! But most of all, trust yourself! If your heart tells you to write in a new genre, listen to it. Your readership will follow you because they will understand while reading you that you have followed your passion and your beliefs.
Jo: Please give details of where we can find your books and how we can contact you.
Véronique: My book Journal d’une ado expatriée is available in French on Amazon worldwide in paperback and Kindle.
For French readers located near Nantes, the book is also available in two local libraries : Durance in the city center of Nantes and Les Lucettes at Sainte-Luce-sur-Loire. I am looking for new partnerships with libraries in France and abroad. If interested, contact me at email@example.com!
I will also participate in several book fairs in France this spring. I can’t wait to meet my readers!
Finally, signed copies of my book can be bought directly from If you are interested, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow me and contact me through:
Thank you Jo for giving me the opportunity to talk about my latest book for young readers (9-12 years old), Journal d’une ado expatriée.
By popular demand, the Watermill at Posara has added a second Write Life Stories retreat to their summer programme.
How to write your life story in a delightful setting in the heart of rural Tuscany — brilliant teaching and exquisite Italy all wrapped up in one fantastic week!
The ultimate workshop on how to write your life story with journalist, teacher, editor and publisher
You will be in a beautiful historic watermill, set beside a river in a gentle valley, with stylish bedrooms in elegant buildings around the sunlit courtyard. You’ll take leisurely breakfasts and mouth-watering evening meals in the Watermill's new courtyard dining room (and also dine out in nearby restaurants to sample traditional dishes and local wines). The gardens, secluded millstream paths and riverside walks are all yours to enjoy.
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