UPDATE: MARGIE Senechal, you are the winner of Elizabeth’s Paris-themed prize! Elizabeth will be in touch with you! Congratulations!!
I am beyond delighted to welcome author Elizabeth Thompson to the blog today. Her new book, Lost in Paris, releases, Tuesday, April 13 from Simon and Schuster, and honestly, mes amies, you don’t want to miss this book. I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy and oh my, I was enraptured from the first page.
A former journalist, Elizabeth Thompson writes contemporary and historical women’s fiction. As an Air Force brat, she lived in France and England and was fortunate to travel all over Europe. Later, she returned to the states where she studied art and writing. Now, she lives in Tennessee with her husband and their crazy Pembroke Welsh corgi. She loves to hear from readers. You can reach her through her website, Instagram, or Facebook.
We got to sit down for a chat recently and it was great fun!
Oh, by the way, Elizabeth is doing a giveaway, open today through Saturday, April 10 at noon for U.S. residents only. Simply comment below for a chance to win a Lost In Paris prize package, which includes a paperback of Lost In Paris; three Paris cityscape drawings…drawn by Elizabeth herself, and a silver Eiffel Tower charm.
N: Welcome to the blog, Elizabeth. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. So, what inspired you to start writing?
A: I’m so glad to be here, Nan. Thanks for inviting me! I have always written, as far back as I can remember. I kept diaries and worked out my feelings in poetry. Later, I majored in journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter. I wrote my first novel when I was in my 20s. It felt like I’d finally found my place in the world.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
A: It depends on the story. Usually, I have a kernel of an idea for the plot, but the characters take over and develop and drive the story.
N: You’ve written a story in my favorite city in the world, Paris! What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing Lost in Paris?
A: Wow, that’s a good question. I’d have to say that I learned to listen to my gut and trust the creative process. I was writing Lost in Paris and going through edits during Covid-19 quarantine. Under normal circumstance, I would’ve traveled to Paris to soak up the ambiance and walk in my characters’ footsteps. Since that wasn’t possible, I had to rely on photos and memories of my past visits. And I discovered the beauty of Google Maps. I zoomed into street level and took virtual walks. I trusted the process and it all came together.
N: Lost in Paris will be releasing April 13. Can you share with us something about this new story that isn’t in the blurb?
A: The blurb is about an estranged mother and daughter uniting to reveal the secret life of a family matriarch, who had a secret life in Paris when she was younger. But the story is also about trust, forgiveness, friendship, and, in many ways, the family you choose and how they shape you.
N: Are your characters pretty much all fiction or are they based on people you know?
A: The characters are almost always fiction. Marla is nothing like my own mother, who was a great mom. And Hannah is in no way autobiographical. Nor do Marla and Hannah represent my daughter and me. However, in past books, I might have borrowed bits and parts from people I’ve encountered. They end up being a composite or an amalgamation, but I’ve never written a character who was entirely based on a real person…except for the book I wrote about the French Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, With Violets (written as Elizabeth Robards – my maiden name). It was based on Morisot’s life, but I painted in the missing pieces. See what I did there? 😉
N: Talk to me about Paris. What is your favorite part of the City of Lights?
A: I LOVE Paris. I have been there several times, and I lived in northern France as a kid. The last time we were there, we stayed in a fabulous apartment on the Rue Cler, which is a pedestrian street in the seventh arrondissement. It was heavenly to walk out of the apartment and have almost anything you could want – cheese, olives, flowers, fruit, chocolate…you know, all of life’s essentials – at your doorstep.
N: What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?
A: Working as a reporter taught me not be too precious about my work. If someone I trust points out a way to make my work better, and the suggestion rings true, I’m never offended. In fact, I’m grateful for the chance to learn and improve. It’s the vague shrugs from an editor, agent, or reader that I find the most frustrating – if and editor says she’s passing on a project because it didn’t resonate, but she can’t put her finger on why she didn’t like it…that’s hard to take.
Best compliments are when someone says my book kept her/him turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. Also, reviewers have called my writing funny, smart, and observant. <Blush> That means a lot to me.
N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: Write every day — even if it’s only 100 words — especially when you’re NOT inspired. While I love the writing process, some days (okay, MANY days) I’d rather play on Pinterest or scroll through Instagram or fall down a research rabbit hole…anything other than wrestling down that first draft. Writing is hard work, and often it’s not fun or glamorous, but you can fix an uninspired first draft. That blank page doesn’t give you anything to work with.
Before I started writing full-time, there was this period when I was particularly busy with life, and it seemed like there was zero time for writing. Even so, I made myself write a minimum of 100 words every day. I could dash off 100 words in ten minutes on a slow day. Often, the process primed the pump and I would write more, but the deal was I needed to commit 100 words to the page before I could turn off my computer. I ended up amassing 60 pages during that “impossible to write” period of my life.
N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: I love to read, cook, draw, paint, and hike. I love to work in my art journal. I also enjoy spending time with my family and my corgi, Luna.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A ballerina. I danced for eight years – until the awkward pre-teen years revealed I was not built for ballet. Plus, I liked to eat way too much. But it’s still my unrequited dream. To me, it’s the embodiment of grace, beauty, and strength.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I also loved the Meg Duncan Mysteries by Holly Beth Walker, and Nancy Drew.
N: And here is my signature question that everyone loves: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: My daughter, my mother, and my grandmother. Family is everything to me. My mother passed away before my daughter was born and I wish they could’ve spent time together. It would be wonderful if we could have a four-generation dinner.
Lost in Paris
When a deed to an apartment in Paris turns up in an old attic trunk, an estranged mother and daughter must reunite to uncover the secret life of a family matriarch—perfect for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Beekeeper’s Daughter.
Hannah Bond has always been a bookworm, which is why she fled Florida—and her unstable, alcoholic mother—for a quiet life leading Jane Austen-themed tours through the British countryside. But on New Year’s Eve, everything comes crashing down when she arrives back at her London flat to find her mother, Marla, waiting for her.
Marla’s brought two things with her: a black eye from her ex-boyfriend and an envelope. Its contents? The deed to an apartment in Paris, an old key, and newspaper clippings about the death of a famous writer named Andres Armand. Hannah, wary of her mother’s motives, reluctantly agrees to accompany her to Paris, where against all odds, they discover great-grandma Ivy’s apartment frozen in 1940 and covered in dust.
Inside the apartment, Hannah and Marla discover mysterious clues about Ivy’s life—including a diary detailing evenings of drinking and dancing with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and other iconic expats. Outside, they retrace her steps through the city in an attempt to understand why she went to such great lengths to hide her Paris identity from future generations.
A heartwarming and charming saga set in the City of Lights, Lost in Paris is an unforgettable celebration of family and the love between a mother and a daughter.