I’m eager to find out more about how my fellow authors get a book ready for publication, so this time I’ve asked Marie about how she came up with the story and the process it went through before A Paris Fairy Tale appeared on your Kindle/bookshelf/audio device.
Hello Morton, and thank you very much for welcoming me on your blog today to talk about A Paris Fairy Tale, my latest Choc Lit release.
- How did you come up with the concept of A Paris Fairy Tale?
It was a stroke of luck… I was shopping in Manchester with my daughter when the heavens opened. As we were near John Rylands library on Deansgate, we decided to pop in to look at the exhibitions. The library is a wonderful and very atmospheric building, with fascinating collections of books and ancient manuscripts, including the oldest known piece of the New Testament – the St John Fragment. That particular day, there happened to be an interactive exhibition about illuminated manuscripts in medieval Paris… and inspiration struck! I spent the following hour making notes while my poor daughter patiently waited for me to finish.
- Is the heroine Aurora like you in any way?
Aurora Black is hard-working and a romantic at heart like me, but that’s where the similarities end. She had a lonely and traumatic childhood and was raised by strict grandparents, whereas I had the most wonderful and loving family. She hides her most secret dreams and longings under a cold exterior and comes across as unsympathetic, hence the nickname ‘Black Ice’ her colleagues have given her. It was very interesting for me to write about a character very different from me.
- It is one thing to have the idea for a book, but quite another to get it ready to send to a publisher. Can you share with us a little about your writing process?
Writing takes me a long time, usually one year or longer. I work full-time and I have to fit in writing around my job and my family, but one of my biggest problems is that I don’t really plan. I just ‘go for it’! I do a lot of research and have a good feel for my main characters and their motivations, but apart from that, every day is an adventure – for them as well as for me! Therefore I often have to rewrite a story many times.
- When your publisher Choc Lit said they would like to publish your book, what comes next (I know of course, but thought readers might find it interesting)?
A Paris Fairy Tale was my second novel published by Choc Lit (the first one was Little Pink Taxi), and the process has been the same in both cases. After the excitement of receiving the email telling me that the panel of readers loved the story, I waited for my editor to send her editorial report and the first batch of edits. There are two rounds of edits – the first one usually deals with quite big changes, including plot changes, and the second is more about style and grammar. In the case of A Paris Fairy Tale, I had a lot of material and sub plots to delete because I had got carried away and the book was far too long! One of the most wonderful stages of the process is when I see the final cover. The book then really exists…
- Have you been in a Paris auction house? Did you buy anything?
Although I lived in Paris as a student, I didn’t go to any auction house there – probably because I would have been too poor to be able to afford anything! However one of my uncles was a very eccentric gentleman who used to buy and sell all kinds of weird and wonderful things at auctions and store them in his basement. It was a real Ali Baba’s cave and we used to love visiting him when my sisters and I were children. Once he even bought a dentist chair at an auction!
- What other research did you have to do for the book?
I read extensively and watched documentaries about illuminated manuscripts, the conservation process and the work of palaeographers. I also completed two online courses with Future Learn, one about art trafficking and the other about ancient manuscripts. Both were free and incredibly useful and informative. I love history and research, sometimes a little too much, and I often have to remind myself that I am not writing an academic book but a romantic novel!
- What can we expect from you next?
I am delighted to announce that Choc Lit will be publishing my next novel – a Christmas romance called Bluebell’s Christmas Magic – in November. It is a contemporary romantic comedy set in the Lake District, and I hope the first of a series.
About A Paris Fairy Tale
Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?
About Marie Laval
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time she loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes.
She writes both historical and contemporary romance. Her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global Ebook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance), and best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!
Thank you for joining me this week, Marie x