The Novel Points of View team are delighted that most members have novels being published this year and so to celebrate we are introducing a Question and Answer series, so readers can discover more about each author and their work. First up is Jennifer Bohnet with her TWELTH novel A Year of Taking Chances...
Let's start with a little introduction to A Year of Taking Chances...
When best friends, Tina and Jodie, make a drunken New Year’s Eve vow to change their lives before they hit the big 3 – 0, neither expected to end the year with much more than another hangover…
Twelve months later, Jodie is married and living in Provence – and Tina is exactly where she was a year ago (although now her rent is double). Tina can’t help but feel a little bit left behind, but as Jodie reminds her, she’s not thirty yet, there’s still time to quit her job, start her own literary agency and sign the man of her dreams!
1) Reading the prologue you dedicate A Year of Taking Chances to your husband – was this novel inspired by your own experience?
I suspect deep down it might have been but the truth is just before the book was due
to be published I got
the usual request from my publishers for acknowledgements and a dedication. It
occurred to me then, that Richard and I have taken so many chances during our
married life - we met and married within three months, moved to Devon, moved to
Wales to go farming, moved house - oh I lost count at about 15 times but the
biggest risk we took was coming to France on bikes with a tent and dog in a
trailer. Like the dedication says, some
of the chances we took we disastrous but equally some were spectacular!
with a selection of her novels
2) We learn that Tina is a literary agent and Jodie works in publishing, focusing on PR - how easy or tricky was it to create protagonists who work within the industry?
These days authors have to sell themselves and promote their work and in doing that you invariably learn something about how agents and journalists in PR work. I’ve a couple of friends who were happy to answer any queries, e.g. ‘would it work like this?’ and hopefully I’ve managed to give the correct flavour of both jobs.
3) A Year of Taking Chances is peppered with interesting little quirks in French lifestyle. Are there any French customs you would encourage readers to try?
Just the wine! No seriously, let me think. I’ve been here eighteen years now and it’s hard to remember what was strange in the beginning but is now a way of life. Handshakes and kisses when meeting someone you know and asking ‘Ca Va?’ Being greeted with a ‘Bonjour’ on entering a shop and then you calling out ‘Merci’ as you leave. And asking anyone for assistance - always start with ‘Bonjour’ and a ‘s’il vous plait’. The French regard these things as common courtesy.
4) Tina enjoys the hustle and bustle of working in a literary agency in London, whilst Jodie comes to love the quieter pace of French rural life. If you weren’t a writer, but could swap with either Tina or Jodie for six months, which lifestyle would you choose?
In my twenties and thirties the hustle and bustle of a London life would have appealed more than it does these days. I guess I’m actually living a downsized rural version of Jodie’s lifestyle already so I’ll stay with it, thank you!
5) Do you find time to read whilst writing? And if so, which authors would we find on your to-be-read pile?
French TV is (whisper it) not very good, so I read a lot, three or four books a week, mainly in bed. Books currently on my beside table or on the Kindle tbr pile include novels by Veronica Henry, Jill Mansell, Erica James, Milly Johnson. I also read a lot of non-fiction. I’m fascinated by the history of the French Riviera during the 20s, 30, and 40s - basically the jazz age, with people like Coco Chanel, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald et al. I’ve got quite a large reference collection of books dealing with the subject for those years.
6) Finally, as we mentioned at the beginning, A Year of Taking Chances is your twelfth novel. Can you share a little of what you’ve planned for number thirteen?
As I’m quite superstitious number thirteen is a worry! Once again I have two main protagonists, although this time they are older. Carla, at nearly 50, is at a crossroads in her life when she arrives in France to stay with her mother’s estranged twin, Aunt Josette. As for Josette, well, she’s the last person alive who knows a shameful family secret.
Novels about family secrets are always a winner, Jennie. Thanks so much for answering our questions and giving us an insight into your life in France. And good luck with both A Year of Taking Chances and novel number thirteen.
Check back soon when American author, Terry Lynn Thomas will be taking the hot seat.
Until then, happy reading,