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  • Author Susan Conley Talks About Paris, Travel and Belonging
Author Susan Conley Talks About Paris, Travel and Belonging
Contributor
Written by
nicole meier
August 2013
Contributor
Written by
nicole meier
August 2013

Today, I'm thrilled to host author Susan Conley. Her novel, Paris Was the Place, is on this month's Indie Next List and earning rave reviews. HAVE TOTE IS GIVING AWAY A COPY TO A LUCKY READER (see blow).

Still smarting from the loss of her mom, Willie Pears moves to Paris to build a life alongside her mysteriously ill brother Luke. Through her work with immigrant girls seeking asylum in France, Willie feels the heady rush of her own mama-bear instinct and falls for a sexy lawyer with a past. But will she risk everything to save one girl? Conley’s debut novel is a satisfying cassoulet of questions about home, comfort and love, served with a fresh perspective on a dazzling city.

­— People Magazine , Elizabeth Egan

Congratulations on the release of Paris Was the Place. The story takes place in parts of France that one wouldn’t necessarily find on a postcard. What drew you to this setting?

I lived in Paris in the late 80’s and I really wanted to try to render a woman who had just arrived there and fell in love. I hoped to map out the real Paris—of fancy apartments and Indian food stands. I wanted to show the whole city, not just the postcard version.

The main character, Willie Pears, works with immigrant girls seeking asylum in France. Can you tell us about your research for this aspect of the story?

I did the requisite research reading about asylum centers in Paris and I learned that there were smaller ones, with low security like the one I depict on Rue de Metz. I’ve also taught refugee students often at a creative writing lab I helped start in Portland, Maine, where I live. So I was able to bring some of my own understanding of this kind of teaching to the book.

A central theme in your book is about one’s inherent desire to belong to a place. Do you believe that travel can help someone gain perspective on where it is they belong?

Absolutely. I think stretching and pushing to travel further and deeper only sheds more light on where we each belong. And belonging can shift. We may land in one city and country and feel very connected there for years. But then it’s time to move on. Travel relatives the world and at its best it changes the focus from inward to outward.

Speaking of travel, where would you like to travel to next and why?

Well after living in China for close to three years recently (I wrote a memoir about that time that is very place-based called The Foremost Good Fortune) I would like to travel to Central America. Or really almost anywhere. So much of good travel is the journey!

Thank you, Susan! ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF PARIS WAS THE PLACE BY LEAVING A COMMENT AT www.havetotewilltravel.com. A READER WILL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM WEDNESDAY, 8/21, a.m.

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