FRENCH LESSONS: Blog Tour with Ellen Sussman

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We're delighted to host the lovely Ellen Sussman today, as part of the blog tour for her new novel, French Lessons. The book has just been released in paperback and we couldn't wait to put our questions to Ellen. 

Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer.
A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans with their French tutors.

What inspired you to write French Lessons?
On a trip back to Paris one summer, I bought my new husband a gift of a week of French lessons with a tutor. I was busy teaching that week and it was our anniversary. It turned out the tutor was good at her job - and gorgeous! I had bought my husband a beautiful young French woman as an anniversary gift! By the end of the week, our marriage was just fine, and I had an idea for a novel. I wanted to write about that man who might have been tempted by a lovely young woman, even though he's in a happy marriage. But I had so much more to say about Paris! And so I created three Americans, all of them walking the streets of Paris with French tutors, learning about love and loss.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I have a small office in my house that overlooks our garden. It's a perfect space for me -- quiet, cosy and close to the kitchen!

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What is your favourite book?
That changes every few months! I'm a voracious reader -- of mostly contemporary novels -- and I give my heart away very easily. Last year I loved Ann Patchett, this year I love Jennifer Egan.

Which part of French Lessons was the most enjoyable to write?
It has to be Josie's chapters. Riley was close to home (I lived in Paris for five years as an ex-pat -- but I didn't get the hot French tutor!) and Jeremy was based on my husband's experience (though he didn't fall in love!) Josie was pure invention and I loved the freedom to create her character out of thin air.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. A really fabulous book - it's a wonderful literary mystery.

Who is your favourite heroine?
Hmm -- that's another tough one. It changes with each great book I read. I like women who are not victims, who are scrappy and determined.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Find a supportive writing group or class to take. Trust your own voice and vision. And perhaps most importantly, learn to write daily.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Yes, I've just finished a new novel, The Paradise Guest House. It's about a young American woman who is caught in the terrorist bombings in Bali in 2002 and returns to the island a year later to find the man who saved her.

Thanks, Ellen!

You can find out more about Ellen Sussman over at her websiteFacebook and Twitter. Also, you can catch up with the French Lessons tour at the following blogs!

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