5 Reasons to Leave a Lover is my second book. It’s a collection containing a novella and two short stories focusing on love and lost. Ellery and Julien Roulet from my first book, Encounters in Paris, return— this time involved in an emotionally-charged love triangle, and along with two other couples, explore how different types of love relationships splinter due to cheating, deception, ambivalence, abandonment, and even death. Ellery’s problem was foreshadowed in Encounters in Paris. When she does deal with that issue she becomes quite feisty in the process.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m a bit of “Jill of all trades.” During the day, I run two companies with offices in Chicago, Paris and Geneva: MotionTemps, LLC, a bilingual Digital Project and Web Content Management firm, and its subsidiary, Mondavé Communications, a media relations training and now, publishing company. At night, I get to create a totally different world through my writing. Currently, we are a family of expatriates! We moved overseas from Chicago, my hometown in 2002 and for exactly five years, I got to be “An American in Paris.” When my husband accepted a job offer in Paris, I packed up my two daughters (ages 5 and 2 weeks at the time), my business, a dog and a cat and joined him! I’ve been living in Lausanne, Switzerland since 2007 with my family. I love reading and writing, obviously, but I also love music (rock alternative and old school hip-hop and soul), genealogy research, languages, computers, cooking, movies and sports – particularly baseball and tennis.
What inspired you to write this book?
I took my inspiration from singer/songwriter, Paul Simon’s famous song from the 1970s, “50 Ways to Leave a Lover.” I was walking down the street one day here in Lausanne, and the song was blasting from a passing car radio. I thought, “That song only gets it half right.” There are many ways to leave a lover but the reasons for leaving in the first place are quite finite. Why not write a new batch of stories around those reasons? Each important section of the book has sub-header that plays off the song. For example, one sub-header is called “Or, Set Yourself Free, Ellery.”
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I was my biggest obstacle. I am a huge procrastinator. When I am unsure about something, I’m a bit of a chicken. Thankfully, once I make up mind to begin something new, I become fearless.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I come from a family of story tellers. As a child writing gave me a way to entertain myself and expand my imagination. I can’t remember when I started writing stories, but I do remember when and why I stopped. While in college I discovered what George Orwell meant by, “writing being “a horribly exhausting struggle.” So I put it aside briefly and concentrated more on journalism and public relations. Even then, my attraction to those disciplines had to be related to storytelling. I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in Communications; with a minor in political science in 1991 and that is when my career in public relations began. From there I bounced around from PR and Advertising agencies, to public affairs organizations to dot.com companies, finally deciding to open my own company, MotionTemps. It wasn’t until we moved overseas that I started writing again seriously.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really, but I do like writing from my bed on my laptop. My husband, or course, hates this. I tend to write either very early in the morning or very late at night. I only write when inspiration hits – which can be anywhere at any time. I have been known to write down my ideas on anything. Once I wrote out an entire scene on the back of my child’s report card; another time, it was the back of a credit card statement.
You mentioned that you have two daughters. Do they have literary names?
Actually, they do but it was not a conscious choice. It was more of a happy coincidence as we were looking for names that would satisfy both our American and French families. The names had to translate easily in both languages. One of my children shares the real first name of author Toni Morrison, one of my favorite authors. My other daughter shares a part of her name with British author Jilly Cooper. Another interesting note, one shares a birthday with F. Scott Fitzgerald, another favorite author of mine. The other shares a birthday with author Nora Ephron, who really cracks me up now that I am getting older and I can relate a bit more and find the funny in her issues.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
My list of favorite writers is just too long to mention. In addition to the ones already mentioned, two of my favourite authors are James Baldwin and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I also love Flannery O’Connor, John Updike, Philip Roth and I adore Zadie Smith. I am adding some new writers to my list including, Danielle Evans, Tayari Jones and Ellen Sussman. All of these authors have their own unique voice; something I hope to perfect some day.
What types of books do you like to read?
I enjoy reading all types of books. There are so many great books to read and yet so little time in which to read them. Over the years I have developed a system for dealing with this problem. In the fall, I tend to read an English or American classic or true literary fiction. In the winter I will read non-fiction (biographies, political, historical, business) books. In the spring I enjoy African American or books in French in order to improve my comprehension skills. I also like to read first time authors in the spring as well. Finally, in the summer, I tend to read Women’s fiction of all types. I not above a reading a really trashy novel then either – it’s like have an extra dessert.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Actually, I am working on two projects now. The first is a collection of short stories that are set on the TGV train traveling from Paris to Geneva, Switzerland, a four-hour trip. When people travel, people often reveal very intimate details of their lives. Maybe they do this because they never expect to see the other person again. I want to explore how revealing these secrets transform the characters. The second project is a novel called Geneva Nights. Everyone thinks of Geneva, Switzerland as being a very quiet and calm place. There is a dark side, too. I want to explore some of those elements with a little of humor. It will be the last time (for a while) that Ellery Roulet appears in any collections, and some new characters will emerge
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Never give up and trust your instincts. If you have always enjoyed reading and writing, then give it a try. If you are afraid to self publish, then remember that you are equipped with more skills then you have ever imagined. Last, promoting books is difficult so be prepared to work really hard.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
This is the perfect book for all women, but especially those who are over 25. Once while doing an interview on the radio, the host said, “This is a grown folks’ book!” I would agree with her. All women will be able to identify with the universal themes of betrayal and deception and pain. However, more mature women probably really identify with Ellery’s predicament because falling in love, out of love, etc., are universal issues – we all experience these things at some point in our lives. Sometimes you have to have lived a little to realize that you can not only survive the pain, but move on with life.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.moncel; Join the Encounters in Paris Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/Encounters.in.Paris, where there are also links to my author Fan Page and also a 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover page!
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/carolynmoncel