Today we’re speaking with Brisbane-based bestselling Australian author Charlotte Nash about her new book, The Paris Wedding – hitting bookstores July 2017. Charlotte has up until now written “rural lit” – tales of life and love in remote Australia. So, naturally the idea of Paris seems about as far from that as one can get (apart from the “love” part). We wanted answers, so we scribbled some questions and got to work…
Hi Charlotte! Congrats on the new book. Now, can you give us a quick overview?
“The Paris Wedding is the story of how one woman deals with losing the life she always wanted, and the grip it still has on her years later. When the story opens, Rachael West has just lost her mother after a long illness – the same illness that kept Rachael in her small hometown for 10 years while the love of her life, Matthew, moved to Sydney. Already facing an uncertain future, Rachael is floored when an invitation arrives to Matthew's wedding in Paris. She eventually resolves to go, if only to get over him once and for all. But she soon discovers that plan is fraught with powerful feelings and difficult choices, and she must find a way to navigate a tumultuous week and all the fallout it has for her future, her family, and her friends.”
Intriguing! So how did the idea for this book form? Was there a lightbulb moment?
“There was a definite lightbulb moment after weeks of struggling around an idea, trying to combine my love of travel with a woman's story. I wanted her to be the kind of character who'd sacrificed something she loved when she was young, and who was re-examining that sacrifice after a transformative experience. I find my subconscious sometimes comes through when I've been worrying at an idea and getting nowhere, and suddenly one morning I had the idea for The Paris Wedding. I then knew the character would have sacrificed her romantic love for a greater one (for her mother), and that there would be echoes of that same kind of choice in the other characters. I wrote a synopsis fairly rapidly, and though the telling of the story had substantial changes between drafts, it has remained the same idea I envisaged back in 2015.”
Okay, so let’s address the baguette in the room. What prompted you to set part of this book in Paris? Rural Australia and Paris are quite different. How do they flow together in the book?
“Paris is in many ways symbolic – sending a character who is still grieving the loss of her greatest love to the very city of love, and then expecting her to witness his marriage to someone else is the ultimate way to push that character's buttons. Paris also represents a polar opposite (almost literally) to the life Rachael has lived up until the novel – it's on the other side of the world, it's sophisticated, and far from the familiar comforts of family and home, all designed to have her feel least at ease. At the start of the story, Paris also symbolises the life that Matthew has moved on to (with his new fiancée) – a glamorous, unattainable dream, which aligns with Matthew's fiancée's romantic idealism. Rachael once aspired to be part of Matthew's future, and now as she struggles with that notion of unattainable dreams, the trip is transformative, setting herself and her life in a different context that no familiar place could have done, and which she can only appreciate afterwards.
“Overall, Paris is not Rachael's choice at all – it's one that someone else makes for her. And in this echo of one of her flaws, Paris is an uprooting, albeit in an elegant and inviting disguise!”
We can’t wait to read it! So what's next for you?
“My next book is a story about a generous young mother who is placed in an impossible situation, and has to find both the courage to act and to stand up for herself. It mostly takes place as a ‘road trip’ across America, with our mother teaming up with an unlikely trio of septuagenarian nursing home escapees. Each of them are on very different journeys, but all find their worst fears waiting … and a way through. There are volcanic eruptions, romance, trust, betrayal and kindness. The working title is The Lucky Escape.”
And finally, what THREE pieces of advice would you give to aspiring romance writers?
“First, find a way to get good critique of your work. Joining RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) is a great start, and you need to find people who know what they're talking about. Improvement without critique is painfully slow.
“Second, keep writing and finishing things, no matter what your skill level – lots of people can write beautifully, but persistence is less common. You get better by doing, and by doing, I mean finishing and editing. You'll be 10 times better as a writer when you've finished two complete books, than when you've written just the first few chapters of 10.
“Third, expect nothing more than the joy of creating what you write. Then, when and if success comes, you'll take it in good grace. Aim for steady advancement in your skill and your ambition, and let writing give and take with the rest of your life.”
Wise words – thanks Charlotte!
Charlotte Nash’s new book The Paris Wedding is published by Hachette Australia – and available now!