Today, I am very happy to feature New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Willig. I read the three books pictured above and enjoyed them immensely. Last year, Lauren saw one of my pictures and reviews of her books that I had posted on Instagram, and we connected. I was thrilled when Lauren agreed to do an interview with me for my blog.
My Review of Lauren’s latest book, All the Ways We Said Goodbye, that she co-wrote with Karen White and Beatriz Williams
1914: The start of WWI positions Aurelie, French heiress and holder of a national relic, to spy for the resistance, leaking out bits of information she overhears from the German officers who have acquisitioned her family’s castle. With her mother at the Ritz in Paris and her father trying to keep his estate afloat, Aurelie’s ties to her parents waver. Eventually, her heart leads Aurelie down a much different path than she imaged—straight into the arms of German officer, Max von Sternburg.
1942: Marguerite “Daisy” Villon delivers much more than books to her grandmother at the Ritz. Sickened by her husband’s involvement in rounding up and shipping out Paris’s Jewish population, Daisy befriends forger and spy, Legrand. In a secret section of a local bookshop, they collaborate for the underground resistance to provide Parisian Jews with forged identity papers and passports. However, Daisy cannot untangle her heart from Legrand’s, endangering them both and all whom she holds dear.
1964: With the death of her husband recently behind her, Barbara “Babs” Langford goes in search of her suspicions—that her husband had been in love with a spy of renown, La Fleur, whom he met in Paris in the 1940’s. Babs’s search for the legendary spy coincides with lawyer, Andrew “Drew” Bodoin’s. Through the romantic atmosphere of Paris and a little help from a woman Babs meets at the Ritz, Drew and Babs form much more than an investigative alliance.
Is there a future of Aurelie and Max? Can Daisy and Legrand keep up their cover and their romance, while diverting watching eyes? Will Babs set aside her past bonds to embrace Drew, who loves her unapologetically and unconditionally?
Which of the three women, Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs—whose lives have revolved or evolved through the doors of the Ritz—will say a permanent goodbye to the love of their lives?
Readers of historical fiction, historical romance, and women’s fiction will be drawn into the stories of Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs, and find them sparkling and intriguing slices of drama that beautifully tie together to form a charming, cohesive novel.
- What was your favorite book as a child? What is your favorite novel as an adult?
As a child, I was captivated by E.L. Konigsburg’s A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, a retelling of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by her closest companions as they all sat around on clouds waiting to see if there were finally enough lawyers in heaven to argue Henry II’s way in (I know, I know, it sounds weird—but it was hilarious and fabulous.) I immediately wrote a sequel from the point of view of Eleanor’s favorite horse, and thus my career as a historical fiction writer began.
As an adult, I have a revolving shelf of favorites, which vary wildly, from Robin McKinley’s fantasy novels to Angela Thirkell’s 1930s British social satire to Georgette Heyer’s Regency ballrooms. But if I had to pick just one, it might be Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night, the third of her Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey mysteries, in which Harriet returns to her Oxford college as an adult and has to grapple with the issue of whether one can have both a mind and a heart.
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Michaels, who went on writing, in multiple genres, under multiple names, well into her nineties. I only hope I’m half so prolific!
- When did you start writing fiction?
When I was six, I announced that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. Being rather stubborn, I stuck with it, and produced scores of manuscripts all through my pre-teens and teens and so on. My first book came out when I was twenty-six, a full twenty years later.
- What set you on the path to publishing?
I got very lucky. I’ve learned that in this business, it’s as much about serendipity as talent. I’d intended for my first book to be a vast, intensely researched 17th century epic, but while I was busy avoiding writing my 17th century dissertation in grad school, I wrote a madcap romp for my own entertainment, a swashbuckling spoof compounded of the British comedy Blackadder, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Julia Quinn’s Regency romances, with a modern chick lit frame story (about a disgruntled American graduate student researching her dissertation in London). It was meant purely for my own amusement and that of my close friends, but one of those close friends passed it to a friend of hers, who happened to be an agent—and the next thing I knew, I had a two book deal! (My first month at Harvard Law, but that’s a whole other story.)
- If you could offer five tips to other aspiring authors, what would they be?
- Ignore advice. What works for other people may not work for you. Just write and write and let yourself experiment and learn by trial and error.
- The market changes on a dime. Write what you love, not what you think is selling, because what’s selling may change by the time you’re done with chapter two.
- That being said…. Read. Read broadly. Read as much as you can in your own genre and beyond. Read the books everyone is talking about and the books you want to read just because you want to read to them. While I don’t believe in writing to the market, I do believe that if you’re reading the books that are hot right now, you’ll be in sync with the spirit of the times—because we are what we read.
- Don’t worry about the saggy middle. All middles are saggy. Just fight your way through it and revise it later.
- Don’t worry about publication until you have a finished manuscript. There’s time enough to figure out how to get it published once it’s written. In the meantime, just concentrate on making it the best book it can be—and enjoy the experience of being with your characters and making this story your own!
- How does writing with two other authors work, in the books you co-wrote with Karen White and Beatriz Williams? If you each take a character, which did you write in All the Ways We Said Goodbye?
Although we live in different places, we always get together to outline the book. Over a marathon three days, we’ll develop all the characters and plot out the whole book, chapter by chapter. Only once we’ve come up with the whole story do we each “claim” a character. Then we retreat to our separate parts of the world and write round robin, each of us reading the last two chapters before we write our own, so we blend our voices and have continuity vis a vis symbolism and imagery and all that fun stuff.
As to who wrote which character… my lips are sealed! We’ve vowed we won’t tell. We didn’t originally intend to keep it a secret. We’d assumed our individual voices are so strong that it would be immediately apparent to our longtime readers. But when our editor sent the wrong edits to the wrong authors with our first book, The Forgotten Room (and then our readers started guessing wrong, too!), we realized that we’d accidentally done something different and new and created a unique “Team W” voice. So we made a pact not to tell—and now we deliberately plant red herrings in the book to try to confuse people about who might have written what!
- What new books are coming up?
My next book, Band of Sisters, hits the shelves on March 2nd! It’s based on the true story of the Smith College Relief Unit, a group of determined Smith College alumnae who charged off to France at the height of World War I to bring humanitarian aid to French villagers right behind the front lines. The villagers had been left in terrible straits by the German army: wells poisoned, homes destroyed, plows broken, able-bodied men and women sent off to work camps in Germany leaving only the very old, the infirm, and the very young. The Smithies dug right in, braving the mud, German shells, French bureaucracy, and recalcitrant livestock to rebuild homes and lives, bring medical care and food, and teach children who had known only war to sing and play again. It’s an incredible story, and I am so excited to bring these forgotten American heroines back into the historical narrative!
- Please share five to ten adjectives you would use to describe yourself.
- Highly caffeinated
- And currently entirely Exhausted
Thanks so much for having me here! If anyone would like to know more about me or my books, please do come visit my website at www.laurenwillig.com, or my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/LaurenWillig– or just come join me at the Band of Sisters launch party on March 1st! You can find all details on the Events page of my website.
Thanks, Lauren so much for taking the time to connect with me, my followers, and hopefully new readers!! Many blessings to you in your career as an author. J
One thought on “An Interview with Author, Lauren Willig”
Great interview! Love the red herrings and keeping your characters a secret. What fun!