Wednesday, November 09, 2011
FEATURED AUTOHOR: Carolyn Moncel
A virtual media and web consultant by day and author by night, Carolyn Davenport-Moncel moved to Paris from Chicago, her hometown, in 2001. In Paris, she started the first English-speaking Virtual Assistance firm. Known for her online articles on media relations, Moncel owns MotionTemps, LLC (http://www.motiontemps.com/), a Digital Project and Web Content Management firm with offices in Chicago, Paris and Geneva; and its subsidiary, Mondavé Communications, a media relations training and publishing company. She has written, placed articles and been featured in such diverse publications as Entrepreneur.com, Euromight.com, Expatica.com, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Wired News, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Working Mother, Bonjour Paris, and PrissyMag.com. Author of Encounters in Paris – A Collection of Short Stories, Carolyn currently resides in Lausanne, Switzerland with her husband and two daughters. Her latest work is called 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover—A Novella and Other Short Stories.
How did you start out your writing career?
I come from a family of storytellers. 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.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned to let the character direct the story. If you listen to the characters very closely, they will show you where the story needs to go.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I’m a realist to be sure. I hope this is a book that not only entertains but more importantly, makes people think. There are always lessons to be learned, but not necessarily in a preachy or judgmental manner. I hope that I have created realistic and empathetic characters, people for which readers easily can identify with their circumstances.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
I enjoyed writing about all of them because each one is very distinctive and unique. Despite his very bad behavior at times, I have to say that I still have a crush on Julien. He is not based on my husband at all, but the way that Julien speaks and rationalizes his decisions is quintessentially French. There is a passage in the novella where Ellery must confront Julien. They are sitting in beautiful Parc Monceau and Ellery says something to the effect, “I will not love you again, Julien.” Julien’s response, “I don’t believe you because ‘will’ implies that you ‘could’ if you wanted to.” When I read that aloud to one of my French friends, she laughed so hard. She said, “Now, that is a spot on response from a French guy.”
My other favorite character is Lola Sanchez. Her appearance in this novella is small but impactful. Readers will get better acquainted with her soon in my first novel, Geneva Nights. Half French and Spanish, she is Ellery’s best friend in Paris, and she is so feisty. I will not reveal who it is, but she is based upon a real friend from Chicago. She’s one of those “ride or die” girlfriends. These girlfriends are the type of women who will rush to your side, in the middle of the night carrying a pint of ice cream, tissues and a crowbar! They also are the women who will be there for you when your boyfriend breaks up with you, or you lose your job, or when your husband leaves! While experiencing heartbreak, every girl needs a friend like Lola!
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I wouldn’t say anything has surprised me yet, but I am so grateful for the support and the encouragement that I receive from both fellow writers and readers. When I get a chance to meet some of my favorite authors (either in person or online) I am positively star struck!
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
Actually, I hate writing the first draft. It’s difficult for me to get started. Actually, I start writing from the middle all the way until the end. Then, I go back and fill in the beginning. I love working with the edits. Usually after writing the first draft, I take a break from the work for a couple weeks. I open it again and then I read the entire work aloud. Syntax is really important to me. How a story sounds, how it flows matters. If it doesn’t sound right, I have to take portions of the story apart and rewrite and edit until it does.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1. How hard it is to stop writing.
2. How large of a role marketing and public relations plays in promoting a book. I’ve been doing public relations for 20 years but never in the publishing industry. This is incredibly hard work and time consuming but I love it!
3. That there might be days when the paper or the computer screen remains blank and that’s okay. There’s no need to panic. Inspiration will come around again eventually.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do find the truth in your stories and tell it. Truth is a subjective thing and finding it is risky because it requires deep introspection. Not everyone will agree with your interpretation. I think having the courage to say the truth, unabashedly, is the hardest part of writing. Yet, truthfulness is what readers identify with the most. Don’t censor your feelings. What your character feels is real. When it comes to what feelings those characters may reveal, never be ashamed of what others might think about it.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
First, writing is extremely hard work. Second, writers write out of need – it’s not a choice. My mother gave me the best piece of advice with regard to writing. One day I was complaining about not being able to finish a story. She said, “You’ll write only when you have something meaningful to say.” It turns out she was right, but then again, aren’t moms always right? :)
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
Honestly, I don’t know. I hate to admit this but the books that attract me the most are the ones where the character’s story is so compelling or even heartbreaking that I would never want to be in their shoes.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love walking, hanging out with my family and playing video games or watching movies. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my computer; writing, downloading and listening to music and reading. For the last three years, I have been involved in a huge genealogy project. I have been able to trace my family back some seven or eight generations just based on oral history.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I spend a tremendous time on online. I love Facebook and Goodreads as ways of connecting with readers. Otherwise, I really enjoy doing interviews like this. I always want readers to know that they can contact me anytime. It blows my mind every time I receive an email from a reader. I welcome everyone’s feedback
5 Reasons to Leave a Lover
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.
5 Reasons to Leave a Lover:
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