Bestselling author, B. A. Paris has achieved the kind of commercial and critical success that most writers dream of. She has very kindly agreed to share a few of her secrets with us.
Bernadette, welcome to my blog! You too are a writer abroad. Why and when did you decide to leave the UK and settle in France?
Thank you, I’m delighted to be answering your questions! I left the UK to live in France over thirty years ago as I wanted to be able to speak French fluently. I thought I’d stay for a year but I was enjoying Paris so much I decided to stay a while longer. During my second year there, I met my husband. I always thought we’d go back to the UK but then we started having children and before I knew it, I’d spent more years living in France than in the UK. We also spent four years living in The Hague – my youngest daughter was born there. We’re now moving back to the UK, for family reasons. My parents are elderly so I want to be able to see more of them, my sister and brothers too. My eldest daughter lives in Paris and my two youngest ones are both at university in Lille, so we’ll be going back to see them regularly, and to catch up with our friends. I won’t be abandoning France completely!
Did you start writing when you moved abroad or were you writing fiction before?
I only started writing a few years ago, when my two older daughters were away at university. With only three daughters at home, I began to have some time to myself. So I did what I’d always wanted to do, and started writing. That was in 2008 and I haven’t stopped since.
You write psychological thrillers with female protagonists. Which authors have influenced your writing the most, and in what way?
I’m not sure that I am influenced by other authors, in relation to my female protagonists. I was an avid reader of Agatha Christie when I was in my early teens, so she probably had the greatest influence on me. The other writers I enjoyed reading are Leon Uris, James Clavell and Wilbur Smith, who wrote/write huge sagas rather than psychological thrillers.
I very much enjoyed ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (soon to be made into a film) and ‘The Breakdown’ which were both set in the UK. I was wondering if you plan to set a future book in your adopted country, France?
I’m glad you enjoyed them! I don’t have any plans to set future books in France, although ‘Bring Me Back’ starts in France. My fourth book will be set in the UK too.
In ‘Behind Closed Doors’ you chose a potentially controversial and sensitive subject, psychological control and abuse. How did you tackle the research for this?
When I set out to write behind Closed Doors, I had no idea it would turn out the way it did. When I realised that it was going to be much darker than I intended, I researched cases of women who had been kept prisoner – the internet is a great source of information. Some were so harrowing that I had nightmares. One woman was kept in a pit – not a room, just a hole dug under the house – and her captor would throw food down to her, as if she were an animal.
The one thing that touches me are the messages I receive from woman who have been through something similar to Grace, and who are grateful that Behind Closed Doors has helped bring the subject of psychological abuse into the open. With psychological abuse there are no physical signs which means it is much harder to detect – and so much more difficult to talk about.
Do you plan everything before writing or does your story unfold as you write?
I’m not a planner at all. I usually know the beginning and the end, and then the rest is a journey, often led by my characters. It’s like going on an adventure!
Does living abroad create barriers to getting agents and publishers in your opinion?
No, I don’t think so. In these days of email, agents and publishers wouldn’t really know someone lives abroad unless they are told in a covering letter. And I think it would only add something to a writer’s profile, not detract from it.
We would love to hear more about your new book, ‘Bring Me Back.’
‘Bring Me Back’ is another psychological thriller and comes out in March 2018. It tells the story of Finn, whose girlfriend disappeared twelve years before. He told the police the truth about the night she disappeared – just not quite the whole truth. Now he’s moved on – but his past won’t stay buried.
Do you have a set place to write in or do you write wherever you are?
I recently bought myself a little writing desk and a comfortable chair, which I’ve set up in front of a window, so that’s now my favourite place to write. But I can write anywhere – on a plane, a train, even with lots of noise going on around me.
Most writers don’t enjoy the self-promotion aspect of their job. How about you?
It’s something I really don’t enjoy. I would rather not do any self-promotion, although I will tweet that I have a new book coming out. I’ll also retweet any reviews or comments about my books. But I draw the line at asking people to buy them.
If you could invite any famous people to a dinner party, who would you invite?