Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Interview with novelist Mary Fleming

Novelist Mary Fleming joins me today to chat about her literary fiction, The Art of Regret.

I was born in Chicago but have lived in Paris since 1981. After working as a freelance journalist and consultant, then for a foundation, I turned to writing full-time. For seven years recently, I lived half-time in Berlin too, which prompted me to start writing a blog. Now I divide my time between Paris and Normandy and write about that. The Art of Regret is my second novel. The first is called Someone Else.

Welcome, Mary. Please tell us about your current release.
Trevor McFarquhar is a thirty-something American who has lived in Paris since he was a child. The move came after his sister and father died, events never discussed in the family and therefore unresolved in Trevor’s psyche. Having done his best as an adult to be a misfit, he runs a failing bicycle shop and maintains scratchy relations with his family, all the while unable to give up his first passion, photography. But in 1995, during a crippling French transport strike, his shop’s fortunes take a turn for the better, while a liaison dangereuse shatters his personal life. Five years later, his plan for non-living upended, Trevor is given a second chance to find redemption and even love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I am very interested in the effect of our past on our present. We think we ‘get over’ events from long ago but we don’t, especially if we haven’t faced up to and digested them. In one form or another our experiences stick to our ribs. The novel is also something of an ode to Paris, a city where I have lived for many years and which has been very good to me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am finishing a novel, set in the early 1980s, about an old American woman who has lived in Paris all her adult life, and a young American, who has just arrived and is trying to find her way in the world. The latter goes to live and work for the former in a big old house on the place des Vosges. Both—surprise, surprise—have complicated pasts. Their interaction is difficult. Squatters occupy the house which, oddly, brings the older and younger women together.

Meanwhile, I continue to write my bi-weekly blog, A Paris-Perche Diary.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Privately, in my own head, about 30 years ago. Publicly, about 20.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, though that doesn’t mean I’m always writing. Stories need time to gestate and good ideas often come to me while I’m walking the dog or running an errand. Part of my ‘job’ is also reading and learning from other works of fiction.

I like to get up about 6 and start writing. That quiet time, while the world around me is still asleep, is when my mind is clearest, when I think the best. If I haven’t started working by 10am, the day is usually a write-off, so to speak.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes when my mind feels unfocused or muddled I do a Sudoko puzzle. Getting all those numbers correctly in their boxes helps reorder my brain.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher or a writer. I considered ranching too.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
People say I am lucky to live and work in Paris and they are absolutely right.


Thanks for joining me today!

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