Escape to Paris with F.G. Gerson and climb the “21 Steps to Happiness”! If you like books and travels, get ready!
Hi F.G. Gerson! Welcome to “Veronika asks” ! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I was born and grew up in France (Paris and Antibes, in the Riviera). Like you, Veronika, I was a true bookworm and started to write novels very early on. I sent my first manuscript to über French publisher Gallimard at the age of 16 (I was still writing in French, back then). Writing and traveling are my two things. I became a “professional foreigner” by the age of 20 – living in many different countries, from Poland to New Zealand. Now, I live in Goteborg, Sweden and Paris with my wife Maria and my two-year-old daughter, Ilo.
Cancers are known to be emotional, intuitive but really moody. Are you a typical Crab? 🙂
I am ‘zee’ typical crab. I’m a walking Cancer profile. I’ve been entirely relying on impulses and intuition for every important decision in my life never on logic and common sense.
Could you tell us more about your first novel, “21 Steps to Happiness”?
21 STEPS TO HAPPINESS tells the story of Lynn Blanchett, a young American dropped into a ridiculously cushy Couture job in Paris by her distant fashion-icon mother. She has no real experience, tons of pressure from people who expect her to have the genius of her mother running in her veins, and has little to guide her but a self-help manual that promises “20 Steps to Success.” Oh, and the novel is structured like a typical self-help book. Follow Lynns 21 Steps rigorously and YOU WILL BE HAPPY – or your money back guaranteed 😉
And then comes “Manhunting for Beginners”…
Manhunting for Beginners is the humorous tale of a retiring fashion model turned novice Manhunter in the cutthroat jungle of the Parisian Haute society. Its also the perfect novel for anyone wanting to learn how to “catch” the right partner and make him/her commit pronto. The novel is also full of great tips on what sort of shotgun to choose, what type of rope or handcuffs to buy, and what are the best season and places for Manhunting.
What gave you the idea and wish of writing a book (the first one)?
Strangely enough, most of 21 Steps to Happiness came from personal experience. Especially the ‘drop into a ridiculously cushy job’ and ‘expect to have the genius of her mother running in her veins’ parts.
It’s really uncommon to see a man writing Chick Lit. How did you begin writing in this genre?
Writing Chick Lit begins with loving to read Chick Lit, of course. It started in New Zealand. I discovered Candace Bushnell, Melissa Bank, Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, etc while living there. With Chick Lit becoming a major commercial genre, I found the perfect outlet for the type of novels I was writing. I thought – hallelujah! now, I can write about contemporary urban life, relationships, and romance and even see it published! Being French helped a lot too. I think we are less concerned (or not concerned at all) by the gender of the writers when it comes to novels and literature, (Madame Bovary was written by a French ‘Dude’, right?). To put is simply: I write the novels that I would love to read – regardless of whats my gender and I’m thankful that an open-minded publisher sees it the same way.
And you talk a lot about fashion in “21 Steps to Happiness”. Why?
Ah Fashion! I grew up in a family of famous fashion designers. I spent my childhood in various workshops in Paris. It gives me this unique (and very personal) point of view on fashion and a lifelong fear/fascination for fashion models (their hands, their huge hands!).
Being french, why don’t you write in French? I noticed that you will publish your book in Germany, Poland, why not in France?
I love writing in English. Its very liberating for me. I feel completely free to twist and bend the English grammar and style (oh, my poor copy editors!). It keeps the writing and the voice very lively. I could never go back to French: I’m too self-conscious in French – too much pressure. As for publishing in France You’ll see, Veronika, It will come. I’m sure. I’m working hard on it 😉
You said you looove Paris. Why? Do you have favorite places there?
Paris is unique. France is unique. The more I travel, the more it becomes obvious to me. Culture, History, literature, food, fashion, packed in a single City. And the French are irresistible. I love that they are so “different”, arrogant and protect so proudly their ‘frenchitude’. I prefer Rive Droite over Rive Gauche. Rue des Martyrs (near by Pigalles) is where I live when I’m in Paris. It’s also my favorite area in the city. From Notre Dame-de-Lorette, all the way up to Sacré-coeur, going through Montmartre, of course. Rue d’Hauteville is where my parents used to have their workshop. Les Halles is not too far. Le Marais. Les Grand Boulevard. Ha! You can keep your Saint-Germains, your Parc du Luxembourg and all of your Saint-Michel. I’m a Rive Droite boy, through and through.
You say you travel a lot: when do you find time to write? 🙂 And how do you write in general?
I handwrite my first draft on notebooks, so I can write absolutely anywhere, even while queuing for hours to get my resident visa renewed. I have only one rule: I write 5 hours a day, everyday, no matter what. The rest of my life is mine.
You traveled to Germany, Poland, England, America. Do you feel yourself French or American?
Its funny you’re asking that. I’ve lost all sense of nationality. I’m a professional foreigner. I dont feel French. I dont feel American. I dont feel Swedish. I’m a nightmare for every immigration officer out there. It takes hours to explain my case and why I’m registered as a resident in 5 or 6 different countries. Do you know that Gerson means ‘from nowhere/foreigner/nomad’ in Hebrew?
You already planned another novel, “Mrs Moore and the Divine”. What is it about?
I’d rather not talk about Mrs Moore well, yet. Even though I would love to 😉 The novel is in development, its always a bad idea to talk about a story at this stage.
Do you think you’ll write something in another genre? Or did you already try?
I found a genre thats just right for the stories I want to tell. Im going to stick to Chick Lit for as long as publishers and readers stick with me.
Who are your favorite authors? Which books do you like to re read?
L.F. Celine, right at the top. Big Balzac Fanatic (Lost Illusions also living right at the top of my list) Candace Bushnell (shes some sort of genius, isn’t she!), Proust (and proud of it). Colette (she invented modern Chick Lit, you know) oh, and Rene Barjavel (I’m sure you know what I mean The Ice People “La nuit des Temps” one of the most beautiful love story ever written and one of the very first ‘real novels’ I ever read – oh, what a book!)
And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use it?
I’d go to the beach with Ilo and Maria and buy everyone extravagant gourmet ice-creams.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ?Put Ilo to bed, read a book, fall asleep on the sofa after twenty pages.
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ?Beach (and extravagant gourmet ice creams as mentioned earlier).
Country or City ?City by the sea (Goteborg, Sweden)
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ?Comedy. Romantic Comedy, even better.
Shy or Easy-going ?Very easy-going with individuals and extremely shy within a group
Serious or Funny ?Funny
Traveler or not ?Couldnt live without a passport
Sporty or not ?Fitness fanatic
The Leader in the group or not ?Never a leader. I dont like groups. “One on one” is always my favorite option.
TV show: Medium
Movie : Woody Allen’s Annie Hall
Book : L.F. Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night
Music : Big fan of Fiona Apple
City : Im going to surprise you here: Wellington, New Zealand
Favorite place to write: My home in Goteborg, Sweden (quiet quiet quiet)
Quote or motto : Dream
Thanks, F.G. Gerson!
F.G. Gerson’s website http://www.fggerson.com