You’ve probably noticed as a rule that I don’t regurgitate too many posts here. However, a little over two years ago I had the awesome opportunity to interview Laura Florand who has been one of my favorite authors since I read her first novel, which was so very different from anything I’d been reading at the time. She’s taken some time off from writing, but I hope she comes back to give us many more enjoyable books. In the meantime, here’s that interview for those of you who missed it the first time around.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of reviewing Laura Florand’s latest novel, Trust Me (you can read that review here.) I have been a fan of her work for many years and was delighted when she agreed to an interview.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Since then, her books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. In 2015, NPR gave her the enormous honor of naming her Chocolate Kiss to its list of the Top 100 Romances of all time.
For more information, please see her website: www.lauraflorand.com.
Interview with Laura Florand
What genres do you read?
I’ve always read a lot of fantasy, and right now I am reading a lot of non-fiction and also some middle grade fantasy novels (with my daughter). I used to consume huge amounts of romance as well, but since my own books came out, I sometimes find it more restful and renewing to just read completely outside the genre and I’ve been reading only 2-3 romances a month lately, so I miss a lot of good authors. And I read a lot of French literature of course, including French-language graphic novels which particularly interest me right now.
It would be hard for me to say. Everything you read gets pulled in and enriches your own ability to write.
What approaches do you take when you write a novel? Are you a pantser or a planner? If a pantser, how does this affect your research, because your books show that you do research, or have a lot of facts at your fingertips?
I just start writing a scene and go from there, letting what the characters do and say drive what happens next, kind of like in real life. The research helps, because the more I can “feel” the characters’ setting and profession, the richer the work is and the more naturally the story develops, in most cases. But also, I write about things I find fascinating and want to write about, so the research is so much fun. I mean…top chocolatiers and pastry chefs in Paris! I used to claim I write the books so I would have an excuse to do the research.
Oh, I don’t know! I think so many authors have unique voices that set them apart in some ay. After all, writing within a genre is essentially taking familiar stories and giving them your own voice and twist. I write from the heart, and I think once you do that, you will always have a voice unique to you.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, you have decided to start self-publishing. Is this because you wanted to branch out from the mainstream? What affect has this had on you, your writing, and/or your readers?
Do you have any advice for the newbie writers who are wondering about going mainstream or self-publishing?
I think my main motivation is just that I like the control. I don’t see why I should give up rights to something I wrote and am almost exclusively responsible for creating, and give up those rights for the life of copyright and maybe 10% of the profits. (This is not to put down the wonderful help editors etc can provide, but there is nothing on par with writing the book itself.) Technology has changed since I was a kid, and I’m happy to enjoy its benefits in this way.
A definite benefit (to me at least) is that retaining control of my writing means I can write what I want. No one can tell me, Oh, a French heroine of Algerian origin wouldn’t be marketable. All your heroines have to be Americans and, ahem, non-denominational. I write the story I want to write, with the characters who want a story.
Turning Up the Heat and Snow-Kissed were two of the first stories I wrote to self-publish, and I really feel that in both I did something I would never have been able to do in the tradtional publishing industry. I love both those stories so much and the freedom I had to write them to the story and not to the market.
Conversely, of course, as any experienced successful author will tell you, if you write to the story and not to the market, it’s pure luck if the “market” decides to read you anyway.
For newbie writers: How to publish is a hard question and should be—it’s a huge career decision. I am not a fan of giving up your rights for little return, I will say that. The main challenge, of course, as a new writer, is establishing your bona fides in a saturated market. In a world where even my ten-year-old can publish a book easily (and she keeps pressuring me to let her do that), how do you get other people to start noticing and respecting your own work as worth their time? That’s still the biggest hurdle for those who start off self-publishing, a bigger hurdle for them than it is for traditionally published newbies who have the stamp of approval from a publishing house to help give them credibility. My credibility was established before I shifted to self-publishing, so I’m not the best qualified to give advice on how to establish it on your own. But I certainly know many authors who did it, meaning it is possible.
No, I didn’t plan the entire series. That is, I planned to write stories about three female friends, and have the females be the chefs themselves at last (instead of the almost all male chefs in the Amour et Chocolat series), but after I finished All For You, I remember watching some Hollywood film one night, full of banter and action and completely unrealistic scenarios and saying out loud, “Why can’t I write a book like Hollywood? I bet my readers would massacre for my lack of credibility if I did.” And then that first scene between Chase and Vi started growing in my head and I thought, Oh, hell, I’m just going to have fun.
But as I was writing, the terrorist attacks of Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan happened, and I actually knew one of the people hurt, so that made writing a “Hollywood” book about terrorism very tough.
“Chase Me” felt completely different to me as I was reading. And, even more so, “Trust Me” is different yet. I felt that it was weightier, more searching. What does “Trust Me” mean to you?
Well, Trust Me is the aftermath. It’s the reality to the Hollywood story, and the difficulty in that book was in finding a balance of hope and love during a very dark time. I refused to write the classic “dark moment” for it. I said the dark moment was the start, and all the rest of the book was the healing.
Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?
Honestly, no. All of them have a special place for me. You put your whole heart every time into writing a book.
What do you have in store for us next?
Working on Lucien’s book in the Vie en Roses series! I hope you all will enjoy his story!
And thank you so much, Sascha, for the interview and for inviting me on!
PRAISE FOR LAURA FLORAND’S NOVELS:
“Chocolate, Paris, and a Greek god for a hero; this delectable confection has it all!” – Library Journal Starred Review
“(Florand) captures the nature of love, its fierce, soul-warming necessity, in a way that will make you as happy as the finest bonbon could.” – Eloisa James, The Barnes & Noble Review, a Best Book of 2013 selection
“Florand outdoes herself with this exquisite confection… painstakingly crafted and decadent as the sweets it portrays, leaving the reader longing for just one little taste.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Adorable, charming, whimsical.” – Smexy Books
“Florand serves up a mouth-watering tale of slow-burning passion and combustible consummation that’s as perfectly crafted as the hero’s surprisingly complex confections and as silky and addictive as the heroine’s dark chocolat chaud.”– RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars, TOP PICK!, RT Seal of Excellence, RT Reviewers Choice nomination Best Book of 2013