MICHELLE GABLE: I DECIDED TO WRITE I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS DURING THE RESEARCH OF A PARIS APARTMENT
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Michelle Gable is returning with her second historical fiction novel I’ll See You in Paris. The title is set for release on February 9. She made the headlines of literary world with her debut book A Paris Apartment, which became international bestseller.
Our next guest grew up in San Diego. She is currently residing in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. We’ve got a great chance to speak with Michelle about her new book and her experience as a writer. Enjoy!
– Michelle, what is your new book I’ll See You in Paris about?
– I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. Nearly a century after Gladys’s heyday, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a dilapidated manse kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris, where answers will be found at last. In the end, she not only solves the riddle of the Duchess, but uncovers the missing pieces in her own life.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– In researching my first book A Paris Apartment, I studied every luminary artist Giovanni Boldini rendered. When I dug up Gladys Deacon’s background, I knew she had to get top billing in a future novel. She’s too delicious to leave to history! I used many of the Duchess’s expressions, mannerisms, and real-life stories throughout the novel. Yes, she disappeared from her palace. Yes, she turned up in a dilapidated Grey Gardens-style manse forty years later. Yes, she chased people with guns. Yes, she married her best friend’s husband. This is a small sampling of the bedlam the Dazzling Miss Deacon wrought.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
Probably writing on deadline! I had to complete the manuscript over a busy summer during my daughters’ All Stars season. This can involve up to twelve softball games per weekend, all of them at dusty, remote softball complexes throughout Southern California. I was nervous to bring my computer so wrote the entire book in pencil sitting behind dugouts and in my car.
– Tell us something more about your main characters Gladis? How tough was to describe her?
– The toughest part about featuring Gladys Deacon in my novel was that I couldn’t include everything! She was so interesting, brilliant, beautiful, and wildly unpredictable that I found no shortage of tidbits to write about. For example, by age twelve, Gladys found herself in the middle of a worldwide murder scandal. At fourteen, she declared her love for the Duke of Marlborough, her future husband. She was living independently in Paris at twenty, finally married at forty, and turned up in a dilapidated Oxfordshire manse at almost a century old.
Here was a woman who carried a handgun, went temporarily blind due to excessive reading, and declared herself “a miracle”: “Differential Calculus was too low for me!” Her political savvy was no less impressive. “Of course I’m well-informed! I’ve slept with eleven Prime Ministers and most Kings!” All that, and they say she could’ve prevented World War I.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
I wrote I’ll See You in Paris during the summer of 2014, shortly after my first book came out in hardcover. I turned in the first draft to my publisher on October 1st. We went back and forth on edits after that and the book releases on February 9.
– A Paris Apartment became big hit. Did you expect such success when you first started to write it?
– Definitely not! I didn’t even know if it would sell to a publisher, much less sell well to the public. I’d had many rejected manuscripts along the way so my expectations were low. Even when St. Martin’s Press acquired the book, my expectations remained in check. It doesn’t always matter how good (or not) a book is…people have to find it first! In my mind only family and friends would read it. Even today when someone famous or well-known Tweets about the book, my first thought is: “does she know my mother?”
– Who are you?
– I am upbeat, ambitious, and self-confident. I’m also athletic, smart, hyper-efficient, and an extremely fast talker! Overall I have a positive outlook and I seldom worry. No matter how much I have going on, I don’t tend to get stressed out. People say I have a ton of energy and they’re convinced I have more than twenty-four hours in a day!
In many ways, I have opposing traits. I’m a writer but my “day job” is in finance. I can be very high-strung but also lazy. I am introverted at heart but can feign extraversion. People that know me well would describe me as quiet, while acquaintances might say I’m outspoken. My coworkers call me “the hummingbird.” They think I’m small, forever buzzing around without food or sleep. Yesterday one of my good friends said I was “a leader with spunk.”
– What are your writing habits?
– I now like to write all my first drafts by hand, in pencil. I plot out my novels on index cards. Although I make many changes along the way, it’s helpful to have a path, even if it veers in another direction. My other trick is that I always stop in the middle of a paragraph or scene to make it easier to pick back up. That’s what Hemingway did!
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your book?
– Yes, very satisfied! My expectations were modest so what’s happened has been a thrill. A Paris Apartment actually hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists last week! Almost two years after it first launched!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– With my first book, I spent my entire advance on marketing. This time around I’m receiving more in-house support but I’m also spending my own money on additional programs. I’ll also be going on another book tour. I love getting out and meeting booksellers across the U.S.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– My third novel is called Book of Summer and it will likely come out in May 2017. As with my first two, there are multiple time periods. But this one takes place on Nantucket! It’s based on the real-life erosion problem facing the island.
– Why you select history fiction for your literature field?
– I love to read books that send me googling and I hope my books do that for others. Research is my favorite part of writing and I am drawn to bygone eras. Any topic that will allow me to spend months reading old books or interviewing experts is a great one!
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Q: What is your advice for aspiring writers? A: Never, ever give up. Just keep writing the next book, and the next book, and the book after that. Don’t obsess over rejections or reviews or anything. Keep plowing forward and in times of defeat and despair, lose yourself in your writing.