It’s a beautiful day in sunny CA today—I’ve just come in from watering and letting Gracie (our adorable canine “daughter”) do her morning sniff in the back yard.
I have to admit, though, that as nice as it is here, I’d rather be in Paris ... or Scotland ... Wales ... or my beloved England. It was exactly two years ago that Michael and I took a dream vacation to the UK with a 3-day side trip to Paris. And can I just say ... C’est magnifique! I’ve been a rabid Anglophile since I was stationed in England with the Air Force years ago, and I would love to have the wherewithal to live—and write—in a stone cottage in the English countryside for a couple months out of the year. Sheer bliss. But since I’m not Nora Roberts or Nicholas Sparks, I make do with the occasional vacation “across the pond” as our budget allows.
Anyway, on our last vacation—which doubled as a research trip for Daring Chloe—we took the Eurostar (the fast train from London) to Paris, where I fell head-over-heels with the City of Lights. I’d actually been to Paris before, on a weekend visit during my Air Force days, but this was different. Better. On so many levels.
We stayed in a small, charmant hotel just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower and my sweet husband surprised me by paying extra so we’d have a room with a view. The hotel room with the “explosion of red toile” where Tess and Chloe stayed when the Getaway Girls went to Paris was our actual room. And we could see the Eiffel Tower through the window from our bed! At night when she put on her sparkling light show, it took our breath away. Magical. Something we’ll never forget.
There were so many things in Paris we’ll never forget: The ride down the Seine late at night in a bateau mouche and passing Notre Dame while listening to Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables on Michael’s iPod. Talk about goose bumps. The gardens filled with Rodin’s sculpture at the Musee Rodin—including The Thinker and The Gates of Hell. The architecture. Our first sight of the Eiffel Tower up close and personal. The food. Oh my goodness, the food. Amazing! Nothing like I’ve ever had anywhere. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. And of course, the gorgeous Musee d’Orsay with all the Van Goghs, Degas’, and Monets....
When Chloe sees her favorite painting, Monet’s Woman with Umbrella, that she’d only seen in prints and books, but now she’s face-to-face with the larger-than-life ORIGINAL, right in front of her, and begins to weep, that was me. Like Chloe, I had an art awakening in Paris. People always ask me, “Are your characters in your books you?” And my answer is, “parts of me. Sometimes.”
Actually, many of the Getaway Girls have little snippets of me. For instance, Annette was in the Air Force and stationed in Europe. So was I. And like Paige, I’m a big movie buff and know my old-movies trivia. I used to be a “McArt” girl like Becca too—whipping by paintings like I was going through a fast-food drive-through (until I had my art awakening in Paris.) And I hate camping, like Annette, Kailyn, and Chloe, and on occasion—just occasion—I’ve been known to say and do ditzy, clueless things like Kailyn. (Although unlike Kailyn, I don’t love shopping.) And like all the girls in the book club, I’m an avid reader. And I’m also in a book club.
My characters are also bits and pieces of other people I’ve met, and ... completely made up. That’s one of the joys of writing fiction.
I hope you’ll enjoy Daring Chloe and all the adventures she goes on with her Getaway Girls book club. (Especially Paris, ooh-la-la!) I also hope Chloe will encourage you to take a few risks and dare to do something you’ve never done before! Meanwhile, I think I’ll cruise on over to my local European bakery and grab a millefeuille (Napoleon).
And while I’m savoring its gooey deliciousness, I’ll turn on my iPod to Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose close my eyes, and pretend I’m back in Paris.
Happy reading (and eating!)