Sunday, 1 November 2015

Guest Post: My Whistlestop Research Tour of Paris by Rebecca Raisin

Today it's my stop on Rebecca Raisin's The Little Bookshop on the Seine with a guest piece from Rebecca about her trip half-way across the world from her home in Australia to research locations fo her new book series. 
Earlier this year my idea for a three book series – The Little Paris Collection – was pitched and accepted by my editor. It was no coincidence I was also travelling to Paris a few months later! Let’s just say I use the term ‘research’ when it suits me, and who doesn’t want to visit Paris? Somehow, I convinced a bunch of my family, and our European adventure began! My first stop was the UK to meet the lovely bloggers and readers who’d supported me since day one and who I desperately wanted to kidnap, and take to Paris! Alas, the thirty or so girls had to return to their lives, so I sadly went without them, and caught the train to Paris!

It was such a thrill, knowing we were only a few hours away from stepping onto French soil, and breathing in Parisian air. At the time, I hadn’t told anyone about the new book series, but went to Paris with my author hat firmly on. I took photos of all sorts of things, petals on the cobblestones at a little flower shop, the craggy face and toothless smile of an accordion player. I wanted to soak every tiny thing, so it would be in my mind, and my heart when I eventually got home.

It was only fair I stopped at every patisserie we passed, and dashed in for some sustenance – you guessed it – research again! Then there was the boulangeries with the smell of fresh bread baking, and flaky croissants sitting pretty in the window beckoning to me, and what’s a girl to do? The fromageries were exquisite, and I developed an addiction to all the different cheeses!  In an outdoor foodie markets we snaffled up wedges of cheeses, heaven when combined with slices of terrine, and cold meats and took our loot to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and picnicked with the best view in the world. At the time, I was considering my character Sarah, and what she’d make of it all. Sarah, a shy bookworm who had never left her small town, would the crowds intimidate her? Would she delight in being just one person in a sea of people? Would she handle the Metro okay?

We went to café’s where Picasso used to hang out. Bistro’s where Hemingway wrote his books. Avenues where Edith Piaf once sang. We spent a lot of time walking, and finding lost laneways, and hidden gems, in the five days we were there. My character Sarah would have six months in Paris, and I was wildly jealous, even though she’s fictional! What would she do if her boyfriend went MIA? Could she handle the bustling city without the safety net of those who knew her well?

When I went to Shakespeare and Co, the famous bookshop on the bank of the Seine, I fell in love. Absolute, heart stopping, breath taking infatuation. It practically hummed with memories from the past. But it was so busy! It was almost impossible to make my way around as the crowds were so thick. I imagined Sarah at a chaotic bookshop like that, and wondered what she’d make of it, coming from her own which was so quiet that she spent most days reading. I thought it would be a massive culture shock for her, and add to that some staff that weren’t as friendly as the girls back home…what would she do? She would have to be responsible for hitting sales targets, refereeing the staff when there was an issue, could she do it? The girl who spent her day’s nose pressed in a book, not a fan of change, almost afraid of confrontation? I never wanted to leave Paris, but I was excited to write her story, and throw her into the deep end and see if she’d sink or swim!

When I left Paris, a part of my heart stayed there. Living it again through writing the book was so much fun, and I hope you enjoy it too. The food, the romance of the city of love, the sights, and the quirks of the French people Sarah encounters, and my favourite part, the lovely old bookshop by the bank of the Seine.

Lots of love,
Bec xxx

La Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

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