Name Izzy French
49 (gulping at the thought of what is coming soon…)
Where are you from
The UK. I live in West London, close enough to get to see films, exhibitions, bands and feel at the heart of a bustling capital city, but near plenty of beautiful countryside too. I’ve got the best of both worlds.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a professional librarian by ‘trade’ but have been writing pretty much fulltime since I had my kids. I’ve always loved books and reading, and have an MA in English Literature – specialising in Sylvia Plath. I love talking about books as much as I love writing them. I have two kids who are keen readers too. I’m married to my childhood sweetheart. He loves books as much as we all do.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My e-novella ‘One Night in Biarritz’ published by Tirgearr is out on 29th April. It’s a standalone novella, number 11 in their ‘City Nights’ series. It’s an erotic romance set in a city I love and know well, is glamorous, and has plenty of erotic potential. I was also the winner in the recent Ann Summers first ever erotic fiction competition – http://www.annsummers.com/page/erotic-fiction-writing-competition, which was a great thrill. They had hundreds of entries from around the world, so I was delighted to win.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always dabbled, but started in earnest when I had my son 12 years ago, so I could live a dream, and work flexibly around the kids. I’ve never looked back. I started writing for women’s magazines, and dipped into erotica when a particular magazine asked for saucy stories. Myself and some other writer friends sent some stories to them. Mine was about a driving instructor and his ‘learner’. It was too saucy for them, apparently, and that’s when I knew I could write erotica! So I sent it to Scarlet magazine instead, and they accepted and published it. That was the first of very many saucy shorts.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I had my first story accepted by a South African magazine. It’s now on my passport as my profession – which makes it feel really real.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I liked the idea of writing something longer than the shorts I’ve been writing for years – but hadn’t managed to get very far, although I had many grand plans and half-plotted novels. When I saw Tirgearr’s call for submissions I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. I loved the idea of an erotic adventure lasting 24 hours, thought that gave me as the author plenty of scope. I chose one of my favourite places and off I went. I’ve always had a soft spot for French men too – it’s the accent I think, but don’t tell my husband…
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
As I write across more than one genre, probably not. In fact I enjoy experimenting with my writing style, and writing for different audiences. I think my work tends to be more character than plot driven, with the plot emerging from character traits and actions. I do like a short, sharp sentence though. Something nice and crisp.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Afraid that was a bit of a given ;-). The whole series is named ‘One night in…’ And my chosen city was Biarritz, so it was a no-brainer.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Hmm. To follow your instincts, have fun, live life?
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The setting is real. I’ve been to Biarritz a number of times, and I’ve tried to ensure the novel is firmly anchored there. The characters and their adventure are purely a figment of my imagination.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have an active imagination – see above being married to my childhood sweetheart ;-). But I do use snippets of real experiences, conversations, events throughout all my work, like I guess all writers do to some extent. I try and check my facts, too, for accuracy. I don’t like being distracted by inaccuracies or inconsistencies in books I read – I can be a bit pedantic about that.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I have a fantastic bunch of writer friends who are my joint ‘mentor’. They are scattered across the globe and know who they are – they act as critic, therapist, support network and cheerleader. Books? There’s so many! The books that have encouraged me to write aren’t necessarily in the genres I have chosen to work in, but are just great pieces of writing/literature, IMO. ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt, ‘The Member of the Wedding’ by Carson McCullers, ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth, and last but not least a bawdy favourite of mine ‘Fanny Hill’ by John Cleland. I chose the last one because I love the way in which it portrays women taking pleasure in their sexuality.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio, ‘The Psychopath Test’ by Jon Ronson and ‘Paying |Guests by Sarah Waters.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Emma Healey’s ‘Elizabeth is Missing and Jessie Burton’s ‘The Minituarist’ are two books that have struck me as fabulously creative debut novels.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m now working on ‘One Night in Brighton’ in addition to keeping up with the shorts and plotting and planning something new for me, a more conventional romance with a twist. Early days for that, though.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My Writers’ Group.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. It most definitely is.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh, good question. Maybe the readers/reviewers should be the judge of that! I might have given the French guy, Matthieu a bigger part, purely because of my love for French men!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Writing short stories at school, aged about 8.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently writing a short erotic piece for a US market. It is very much a WIP. It’s going to be about a woman waiting for her husband to return home from war, traumatised and in need of TLC. But they have both changed whilst he has been away. I want to explore what happens sexually between two people who have been apart for some time, and have changed whilst apart.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Submitting it, and promoting it, unfortunately, although it has to be done. I love the process – the editing, the polishing, finding the ideas, working on characters. And the words usually flow. I love the idea of writing for an audience, hoping they enjoy the end result, but I’m not great at getting it out there, if I’m perfectly honest.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Carson McCullers. I am fascinated by Southern Gothic writing. It feels so wonderfully strange to me. In ‘The Member of the Wedding’ I think she captures that period of time between childhood and adulthood perfectly – when you don’t fit into either world well. She wrote so beautifully and vividly, and sadly died young.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet…one day maybe…
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The ‘twist’ or crisis point about two thirds of the way through. I had to work on that a bit. That’s why I like writing and developing characters more than plotting.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Quite simply, that I can write longer pieces. I have thousands and thousands of published words, most of them in 2000/3000 word chunks. Now I know I can string them together into something longer.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep going. Release your imagination, but (if you want to get published) keep an audience in mind. I’m quite pragmatic about that.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope I please you, and leave you feeling satisfied…
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I loved all of her books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I can cry at almost anything – adverts, you name it, it makes me cry. Most recently watching ‘The Fault in our Stars’ with my kids. Not a dry eye, and all that. I love laughter, and laugh easily. My kids make me laugh. My friends (with them not at them, obviously). Farce, quirky one liners. Jokes on Facebook. I laugh as easily as I cry, tbh.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Bob Dylan, because he’s a musical genius and poet. I’d be terrified though!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
‘Died loving and laughing’. Because that’s what I consider important in life.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I do several crafts – knitting, sewing etc. I love the theatre, art and live music.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’ve just seen ‘Whiplash’ which was fabulous. An old TV favourite is ‘Northern Exposure’. Current ones include ‘Inside No.9’ and ‘Raised by Wolves’. Both are beautifully written. Funny, sad and wacky.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food – Almond croissants. Colour – Purple. Music – Indie – Green Day, The White Stripes, Nick Cave.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d currently make a good belly dancer (!), but seriously, maybe a forensic scientist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, though I should be more active on it – www.izzyfrenchwriter.wordpress.com