The Interview with Jamie Cat Callan 1) What made you decide to be a writer? How were you so sure that being an author was right for you? I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I began by writing little stories and poems for my mother when I was six years old. 2) Of all your delightful books that you wrote, which one is your favorite and why? Oh my goodness, this is a difficult question. But the truth is, I LOVE my new book, Parisian Charm School. It was such a joy to write and now that I am most definitely a femme d’un certain age, I think I’ve grown wiser and I believe I brought this new maturity to my interviews. I’m still incredibly curious and so I love asking French women about their love lives, romance, their style choices and oh, their recipes! 3) If you weren’t an author, what type of career path do you think you would have chosen? I think I would have loved to have become a fashion illustrator or fashion photographer. Nowadays, I take photos and draw for fun. I think the fact that it’s NOT my career makes it very relaxing and inspiring. 4) If you could go back and tell yourself anything, what would it be? Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. 5) What advice do you have to give to authors that are just starting out? Find your own unique voice. That said, it’s important to read and see what resonates for you. The secret to your path as a writer is inside your heart. Ask yourself, what makes your heart beat a little faster? What makes your pulse race? That’s where you should put your energies. 6) Other than your Grandmother, is there any other reasons why you absolutely love France? I lived in Paris after college and traveled around France. Nonetheless, I was young and confused and for me, France remained a mystery, still to be unraveled. And in fact, France still feel mysterious to me and I think this is why I love it so! 7) Besides the beauty in France and the wonderful women who live in it, what else truly inspires you? I love learning new things. For me, France and French women offered me a mysterious new landscape. But, most recently, my husband and I moved to a farm in Upstate New York. I am not a farm girl! I’m not even a nature girl. But, the mystery of gardening and growing things, making sparkling hard apple cider and fresh raspberry jam—well, I find it so inspirational! 8) What made you decide to write the fantastic book Parisian Charm? After writing my first three books on French Women’s Secrets (French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, Bonjour, Happiness! and Ooh La La!) I realized that there was a deeper reason for the French women’s je ne sais quoi—her mystery, her elegance. And so, I went back to Paris to specifically ask about the cultural roots to their approach to life and love. I learned about the importance of dance and posture, the meaning of color, how their history influences their day-to-day lives and why romance is more complicated for the French, because they are a much older culture. 9) Other than writing, what else do you love to do in your free time? I love to dance! 10) Tell us something many people don’t know about yourself? I play the concertina. (Not very well, but still…I can play it!) 11) What was the hardest critique or criticism that you ever received? Back in 1982, I wrote and published a YA (young adult) novel called Over the Hill at Fourteen. It was very successful and I told a writer-friend who had just received a Guggenheim grant that I wanted a Guggenheim too! (I was a bit naïve and it sounded so very prestigious and glamorous). He said to me, “Jamie, no one gives Guggenheims to girls who write little teenage epics.” Ouch. 12) On the other hand, what about the best you ever received? A reader once told me that reading my book, Bonjour, Happiness! saved her life. Wow. That’s much better than some old Guggenheim! 13) Writing is a very much romanticized career, what is the most frustrating part of being a writer? Proofreading! Even after you’ve read the manuscript over a hundred times, there are still those naughty little typos that sneak past you! 14) Do you have any rituals before you begin writing? Yes, I procrastinate. I check my Facebook page. I check my daily horoscope on Astrostyle. I check my email. I answer an email or tow until I begin to feel guilty. I’m supposed to be writing a book! I tell myself, okay, I’m just going to write a sentence or two. I open my document. I write a sentence, then two, then three, then suddenly a few hours have flown by. 15) What arrondissement in Paris is your favorite to visit? Why? I love the 6th arrondissement because I adore the older buildings, the winding cobblestone streets, the artistic quality of the neighborhood. I love walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg, and along the River Seine. I love the Café Deux Magots, the Café de Flore, Café Bonaparte and the sense of history. All the famous writers and artists from the early twentieth century met in these cafes and I adore the sense of bohemian intellectualism. Sometimes I like to imagine I am time-traveling, just like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. 16) If you had to name the “Top 5 Off-the-Beaten-Path” places to visit in Paris, what would you recommend? 1. Belleville—where Edith Piaf grew up. It’s authentic Parisian and very international 2. Montmartre- be sure to visit the seafood brasserie, La Mascotte. It’s authentic Belle époque. Say bonjour to the owner, Monsieur Campion for me! 3. Pere Lachaise—the famous cemetery where Oscar Wilde is buried. 4. Musée des Arts Décoratifs—wonderful shows on fashion and style. 5. Pigalle—not for the faint-hearted, but the Moulin Rouge is there and definitely worth a visit! 17) It seems that your confidence has increased with every book you write, do you believe that visiting Paris and other parts in France has anything to do with that? Oh my goodness, absolutely! The French women have taught me so much! Really, I do believe that visiting France is like visiting my long-gone French grandmother. I learn about history and culture and how to get in touch with my own unique style and find the source of joie de vivre. 18) As a teaser, what is your favorite lesson in Parisian Charm? And why? I love Lesson #1: Read books. (Not just because I happen to write books, but because this idea of beauty and brains is so French and something any woman can achieve.) Reading is such a gentle and positive way to begin your lessons. Oh, and I love the advice about reading outdoors. Take a big, interesting book with you out to a café or park. Magical things happen when you do this. My friend, Jessica Lee, recently brought a book to her yoga class and not one, but THREE men asked her about her book. I love that! 19) Parisian Charm is such a wonderful book, just like your others, I find it’s hard to put down after you start. Do you think there might be another one in the future? Yes, absolutely! I am working on a novel right now about three American women who go to Paris and guess what—their lives are changed forever! 20) Any last words to your readers? Be kind to yourselves. Be patient. Feel the love that is all around you.
A big thank you to Jamie for doing this 🙂
I just wanted to quickly mention how wonderful it was for her to take the time out of her very busy schedule and do a little interview with me! I hope you enjoyed the interview, because I know I did! If you have never read any of her books before, my favorite one so far is Bonjour Happiness
. I find myself picking it up and reading it again from time to time. Sometimes even a few paragraphs that really spoke to me I would love to reference it. It’s funny because after you read her books, she writes in such a way that you feel like you had a conversation with her and not just reading about her life. It’s wonderful! Stay tuned in the new year because I will be reviewing her newest book, Parisian Charm School
! To connect with Jamie: her blog: http://www.jamiecatcallan.com/
her twitter: https://twitter.com/JamieCatCallan
her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamiecatcallan/
Until next time ladies!