06-19-2012 08:56 AM - edited 06-19-2012 02:45 PM
Q&A with Elizabeth Adler
A Place in the Country
Elizabeth is another very favorite author of mine, she has written some of the most beautifully visual novels that have taken me to Capri, San Tropez, Monte Carlo and Amalfi among other places.
Debbie - Welcome Elizabeth to the General Fiction Forum at B&N.com
Elizabeth - And I must thank you, Debbie, for inviting me to the Fiction Book Club at Barnes & Noble.
Tell us a bit about your newest novel A Place in the Country
A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY is a change-of-pace for me. At heart, it’s the story of a single mother and her teenage daughter, coming to terms with a new life, in a new place, carving out new lives, the mother learning how to live on her own, the daughter desperately trying to grow up, butting heads, and both wishing they knew the all the answers. It’s a theme that reaches the hearts of many women, single moms and others, who have had to ‘find themselves’ while at the same time coping with a teenager. It’s also about taking on a small old broken-down barn and with the help of new neighbors rebuilding it and turning it into her own new concept of a country restaurant. A Place In The Country, in fact.
It’s the first time I’ve set a novel in England, actually in the Cotswolds, the beautiful countryside near Oxford, where I lived, in a crumbling and rather chilly small stone ‘manor house’ dating from the 11th century. The story is that originally it was a hide-away for monks running from persecution, a lovely ‘place in the country’ overlooking fields with cows and sheep, and a little stream you had to ford to get into the village.
Here’s a true ‘country’ story as it happened to me. One day the local hunt came raging through my front courtyard, men in hunting-pink coats, horns blasting, hounds yapping, horses rampaging – and my terrified cats in a line along the roof-top. The helpless fox ran into the courtyard with seconds to spare and straight into my garage. I slammed the door shut after it. The hunt will never forgive me but I hated what they were doing. When they were finally gone I opened the garage door and saw the fox slink away, to risk his life another time.
You have lived in many wonderful places (click here to read her story on her website)
Do you have a favorite place
My favorite place will always be Paris. I’ve been there in spring when the light is golden and clear and in summer when you can almost die from the heat-wave but what you do instead is sip a glass of champagne in Deux Magots and watch the rest of the world go by. I’ve been there just before autumn, when the sales are on, with that magical sign SOLDES in the shop windows, and a bargain is an even better bargain somehow in Paris. I’ve been snowed-in in Paris, waiting for a plane with iced wings that never took off, crawling back from the airport in what might have been the city’s last taxi with snow piling around us; the next day lunching in a steaming Café Flore on an omelette fine herbs, with the windows steamed and the snowflakes falling and the city all white outside. I’ve been in Paris in rainstorms where we trudged through pools and a deluge to a favorite restaurant we were determined not to miss. And somehow I’ve always been in love in Paris. It’s that kind of place.
I’m always as impressed by the scenes in your novels as by the food, are you a foodie, do you cook.
We are a family of foodies and cooks. You never came to our house without something smelling good in the kitchen. My husband Richard, is a meticulous cook, while I tend to be the ‘throw-everything-in-the-pot’ experimental type though I’m pretty good on the classic roast beef and Yorkshire Puddings, as well as that cheese soufflé mentioned in A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY. My daughter took Cordon Blue courses, and also Indian cooking lessons. So you see, we not only like to cook, we also like to eat!
Did you always want to write and how did becoming an author come about for you.
I think these next two questions are co-joined. Yes, I always read. In fact one of the great moments of my life was when I was old enough to join a library and actually have my own card. I still read all the time, and I mean all the time. It used to be that whenever we travelled I would have to ship a case of books, but now I thank heaven for e-readers, even though I prefer the printed page, and the feel of a book in my hand. Besides, though I know it’s very naughty, I always like to read the ending first!
I don’t think you become a writer, or an artist, or a composer. I believe you are born that way. I started my first novel the day my daughter left for boarding school. I wrote fifteen-hundred long-hand pages in a yellow legal pad, that became ‘Leonie.’ It was way too long and when it was published it was cut almost in half, breaking my heart, I loved every single word. The story is set in turn-of-the-century Paris and the South of France – I’ve never strayed far from those locations– as well as in Rio de Janeiro, where I’d lived for three years, and in Manaus, on the Amazon River. I love this story to this day and I’m proud that it is still very much in print in many countries under the title ‘Leonie,’ with its sequel, ‘Peach.’
Having started to write, I simply could not stop. It just went on from there, until 26 books later I’m having trouble finding room for them, plus all the international foreign editions on my shelves. I might have to move!
Are you a reader, do you have a favorite author or two.
I’m a biography reader, autobiographies especially. I love ‘dropping in’ on other people’s lives. My favorite novelist is Pat Conroy, who can never write a bad paragraph. His Beach Music is a favorite. Pat Conroy’s words are like music, and you must read them over and over again, falling more and more in love each time.
The best book about how to ‘approach’ writing, is Steven King’s On Writing. It’s wonderful, and absolutely on the mark.
What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me falls into two categories: a) when I’m writing and b) when I’m not writing. Each is probably a six-month more-or-less phase, though even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking abut writing, dredging up from some still-unknown-to-me source, the next characters, the next story, the next location.
I must tell you here, that I am an unashamed eavesdropper: you never know what that couple sitting at the next table will say, what surprising things people talk about, what they plan on doing… it’s all, as they say, grist to the mill.
And then, when I am writing! First, I must have coffee, and with it a blueberry muffin – make that half a muffin. I always share with Richard. I approach my desk and my Apple laptop cautiously. Then I sit recalling what my characters did yesterday, and what I need them to do today. It starts with one sentence... and then somehow, like now, I’m off and running. I’ll write for a couple of hours straight, take a break, not for long, then back again. Actually until I realize I’m running out of steam and shouldn’t write any more that day.
All in all, I probably write for four or five hours total per day. And I readily admit there are days I might rather clean the refrigerator or go out for lunch than discipline myself to sit at that computer. I’m probably lazy at heart, and since writing is all about self-discipline, sometimes it’s hard getting yourself onto that chair, opening up the laptop, disciplining your mind to go back to that other life you are leading, because all writers lead two lives: their own and their character’s.
I’m sure there is something of me in many of my characters, their silly humor, their fears, their worries, their day-to-day lives, their loves, as well as their taste in clothes and shoes, perfume and food – not to mention the odd vodka martini or glass of champagne!
I am a serious writer, in that nothing I write can be ever deemed ‘trivial.’ There is honesty in what write, and real emotions. It’s the way we are.
What do I do when I’m not writing? Since I’m in the throes of writing now, I’m trying to remember. Oh, yes! I go to France to visit old friends. I travel and I dream. I’ve always been a dreamer, and a romantic.
Being so well traveled and having lived in such exciting and exotic places, what would be a ultimate vacation for you
Now you are asking a troubling question. There are still so many places to be explored. I think, though, despite its problems, India would be the most exciting, with all its teeming life and color, its spices and smells, its bazaars and palaces and stories of the legendary Raj. I have friends who go there often and who would be excellent guides, since he is Indian, but I’m still having a battle with the poverty – who could forget Slumdog Millionaire, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; but it’s something all travellers, to many varied places, have to take in their stride, and always will.
Will there be any signings or events for the new book
Thank you for asking about events and signings. I’m leaving all that up to my lovely publishers. So be sure and check my website here for more information.
Thank you Elizabeth for taking time out of you schedule to talk to us.
Good luck with the new novel.
I want to thank you for asking me all these questions. I feel quite proud of myself for coming up with the answers, I’m so usually writing about someone other than myself!
My Review of A Place In The Country
Caroline Evans life has been in stasis ever since she and her daughter left their home and lives in Singapore and went back to England. She knew she couldn’t stay any longer knowing her marriage was a lie, knowing about her husband’s betrayal. The move however has many difficulties, money that she doesn’t have anymore, child-support that never seems to arrive but the most troubling is her fifteen year old daughter, Izzy’s unhappiness at leaving behind her friends, her home but most of all the father she adored. And on a rainy weekend get-a-way to the Cotswolds Izzy’s unhappiness is about to increase when Caroline spots a for sale sign on a run down barn that calls to her and she suddenly has a place in the country she didn’t even know she wanted. With the support of newfound yet staunch friends and the help of their new community Caroline and Izzy are starting to settle in when Caroline gets some disturbing news about her ex’s business dealings then fixing up a run down property becomes all of a sudden the least of her worries and her world keeps spiraling when the bad news doesn’t stop and Caroline and Izzy are thrown into a seemingly unsolvable mystery. In the midst of all this it seems the fates are having a grand time with Caroline when they decided to throw romance into the mix as well.
Elizabeth Adler has taken me to the most beautiful places on earth, San Tropez, Malibu, Amalfi, and Barcelona so I was surprised to be in rainy England, in a small village in the Cotswolds. I should have known the surprise would be on me because inside the rundown spider infested barn she brought me another unforgettable tale and like many times she added a spectacular mystery twist or two, plus it didn’t stop at the shores of the Thames but she took me to Hong Kong and Singapore as well. She brings it with her remarkable eloquent narrative that’s not only easy to read but also vivid in detail so much so that I could feel the rain on the windows and the scents of the flowers and the food, oh yes it’s always about the food with her too and it’s spectacular in it’s simplicity and comfort. It’s also about her characters who I knew each intimately by the end, some of which I wish I hadn’t and some of which I want more of. And as usual it’s about love, this time the love spreads from romance to friendship and family but it’s no less intense in the telling. All in all it’s a beautiful story about faith in oneself and in those closest to us, it’s about starting over, it’s about looking forward without forgetting to look back as well and most important is that it will resonate with fans from multiple genres and leave all of them satisfied.
Ms. Adler thank you for this journey and I just have to wonder what stamp my passport will show with our next one, which I can’t wait to take.
06-19-2012 09:57 AM
GREAT interview! Are we taking a trip with Elizabeth Adler anytime in the future?
06-19-2012 04:19 PM