Some time back, I had an author interview with Evelyne about her first YA novel, Trapped in Paris. See my post here.
I’m especially pleased to invite Evelyne back to announce her new, cross-cultural YA novel set in 1970s France – Chronicles from Chateau Moines. I love the sound of this book. I will be getting it for my french-studying son, but it will really be a ruse to read it for myself.
Evelyne, thanks so much for joining me today.
Can you give us a brief book blurb?
September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home? Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since Scott moved to Château Moines? Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
I love music and I wanted to write a story in which music would play a role. From music the themes of peace quickly grew in my mind. Since I am from France but live in the US I like to share my affection for both countries through my writing. The French setting was easy to create. The idea of writing in the perspectives of a boy and a girl came from discussions I had with kids who told me that they liked stories written from alternating point of view.
I love the cross-cultural angle (especially from an author who knows both cultures so well). Do you think exploring cultural differences can be especially interesting to teenagers?
Children and teenagers of the 21st century are so much used to live with kids coming from all over the world that they are almost blind to cultural differences. But it hasn’t always been the case. I wanted to show a little bit of the journey and how it was more difficult in the early ‘70s, especially in a small French town.
Why did you choose to set the story in the 1970s? Do you think a book set in this period of cultural and social unheaval can appeal to contemporary teenagers?
I chose to set the story in the early ‘70s because of the rich musical scene, the opposition to the Vietnam War and excessive power of governments in general that marked this period of time in both France and the USA. I believe that 21st century boys and girls are as idealistic as the boys and girls of the ‘70s. They also aspire to a peaceful world and want to belong.
I’ve already told you how much I LOVE this cover. How did you go about having it designed?
I’m glad you like the cover, Kimberly. Jennifer Zemanek at Seedlings Design Studio designed it. We met through Katie Cross, a YA writer who generously shares on her blog the names of the people she works with. Working with Jenny was a real pleasure. She came up with many versions until we agreed on the final cover. It was an exciting journey to see the many options Jenny suggested, based on the synopsis of my novel and the questions she asked me about the story. I’ve always admired creative visual people. A well-designed book cover has the power to pull a reader to the story.
On your blog, you wrote that they story was yours as you were writing it, and you admitted to feeling nervous once it was out and published. This is common with authors. How do you deal with sending your ‘baby’ out into the world?
Until publication the story belongs to the writer. As soon as the book is out, anyone will have an opinion. I was anxious about people’s reactions, afraid to read negative opinions. The first reviews were positive, so I relaxed a little bit. I’m still waiting for more reviews from magazines and professional critics and I try to forget about them, focusing instead on other projects.
What are you working on now?
I am currently at work on a YA novel and a manuscript about my acquisition of the American language and culture, mostly through my children but also lots of reading and writing.
To order Evelyn’s book:
Take a look on Amazon in printed eBook versions
or from any bookstore.
To stay in touch with Evelyne:
Evelyne is also a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) and SheWrites, a virtual community for women writers.