"The reluctant Francophile..."
My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.
It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
"Next of Kin" -- my interview with author Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen
Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen recently authored and published the book, “Next of Kin” a very warm and touching memoir to her father who recently passed away from cancer. Reading her book, I felt a “kinship” ‘cause I too lost a parent and, although I’m not my father’s only child, I am the eldest; hence, automatically bestowed with all the “unwanted” responsibilities. I recently had an opportunity to meet her at a book-signing, and I found her to be just as warm, genuine and amicable as she writes.
Priscilla, can you tell me a little about yourself and how you wound up living in Paris?
I am the Editor and Founder of the webzine Prissy Mag in addition to being a writer/author. I’m originally from Alabama, but moved here to Paris in 1999 from NYC. How did I get here? It was a love story. I was living in Manhattan, he in Paris. We decided to live here rather than him move there. I’ve been here ever since.
Out of curiosity, would you consider yourself a Francophile?
Yes in many ways I am. I think you have to be to some extent or you simply couldn’t live here, or at least you wouldn’t enjoy it. Coming from another country and America at that, there are so many differences. I didn’t move here because of my love of France or Paris in particular, but yes there are many things that I love about France and French people. Definitely.
Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?
It was written in honor of my dad and to some degree we could call it a type of closure I suppose. This book was much easier (on one hand) to write than my novel Stockdale. I had a lot to get out…and this was a great way for me to express what I went through.
Losing a parent is always difficult. How did you cope through the grieving process?
Day-by-day. Sometimes I feel as though I haven’t yet grasped it, don’t believe it in fact. Of course deep down inside I know it’s true. It’s weird. I don’t know how to describe it almost. I didn’t think this would happen for many years to come yet here it has…
We all have a “May” (Priscilla’s cousin) in our families. As I was reading your book, I found myself getting really angry at May for taking advantage of the situation. Did you ever confront her in the end? And insist she return all that was yours?
Sadly, no. I never got those precious letters and photos back either.
You’ve also written another book, “Stockdale” can you tell us a little about this book?
I often refer to Stockdale as my “baby.” As I mentioned above, it was harder to write, took a lot more time, but it was also a lot more fun to write. The main character is a young girl on her way to adulthood called Cassie Taylor. She lives in the small segregated town of Stockdale Alabama and she travels the globe trying to get away from it. It’s ultimately a story about a person who just wants to love whomever she wants without the question of race being a factor. It’s a nice little coming of age story.
I discovered your writings through your website, "Prissy Mag", a sort of catalog of life in Paris. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to create this online magazine?
I’d been writing for several well-known and well-liked mags about life in Paris and I just thought it would be great to do “my own thing”. We launched Prissy Mag in 2007 and it’s been terrific. I love it. We write articles based on real life in Paris “as seen through the eyes of expats”. The best part is when we receive an email from someone telling us how much an article or a piece of information helped them. That makes it extra worthwhile.
I understand that half of the proceeds of this book will be donated to “The American Cancer Society’s Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge” in Birmingham, Alabama. Can you tell us a little bit about this organization? And how people can make donations to it?
Cancer treatment at Birmingham’s medical centers often requires that they are far from home, adding the additional burden of travel and lodging expenses. My family lives about 90 minutes east of Birmingham so you can imagine how daily trips to the hospital would be very difficult. The American Cancer Society's Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge offers lodging at no cost for patients being treated. Patients live with other people going through similar experiences, and are supported by staff and volunteers. This is a wonderful place and they’re doing a wonderful job for many, many people. The lodges are nationwide by the way. People can donate by going to this link "Hope Lodge".
Do you have plans to write another book?
Oh yeahhhhhh! I’ve got two in the works right now. One’s nonfiction and the other one is fiction. Look for one of them to be out late this year…if all goes to plan.
I’d like to thank everyone for their support (you too!). Not only for Next of Kin but Stockdale and the webzine Prissy Mag as well. It really is fabulous and humbling to have people behind you wishing you well and sending you good engergy. I sincerely appreciate it all!
Next of Kin and Stockdale can both be purchased (among other places) at Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, Amazon.fr. Also electronic copies can be published at smashwords.com.
I have to say, I love Priscilla's writing style. Although you're reading her words, it's as if she's talking directly to you and you can tell she's "soft-spoken", but through her words she let's the reader experience emotions as she experiences them. I can see why she became a writer. After reading "Next of Kin" I have become one of her biggest fans. In fact, I've since ordered "Stockdale" and am anxiously awaiting her new upcoming books. I can't wait to get to know the writer Priscilla better as a friend and through her work.