Interview with Juliet Young

Author of An Accidental Parisian

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Quick description of the book for a new reader - what should they expect?
  • They should expect to travel: first to Italy when I was 12 and then to the south of France where I went to university and then to Paris where I settled, with a few side trips along the way (London, New York.) They should also expect to meet my family and four significant boyfriends. I'd call this an adventure book.
What was your inspiration for this book?
  • I had read other memoirs and decided that my life was just as interesting - even moreso! - than some of the lives I had read about.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
  • Joan Didion. Donna Tartt. Iris Murdoch. Emily St. John Mandel. Mary Karr. Rachel Kushner. Alan Hollinghurst. Truman Capote. Sarah Hall. To name a few.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
  • Toronto, Canada where I was born and raised (well, a suburb of Toronto). Italy. Montpellier, France where I lived for two years. Paris, France where I now live and work. Side trips to New York, London, the Côte d'Azur.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
  • You need to sacrifice your social life for a long while because you'll be spending all your free time writing, writing and writing.
Could you talk a little about your writing process?
  • Saturdays and Sundays from 9 in the morning to 6 p.m. Lots of beverages at your side: coffee all morning, juice in the afternoon and alcohol from 5 or 6 pm onwards. There's really no other way to describe it other than "getting stuck in", as the Brits say. Bum in chair and write, rewrite, write, rewrite. It's not glamorous, it's hard work.
Which character has had the greatest impact on readers?
  • Me, I guess, seeing as how I'm the main protagonist of the book. Or maybe my parents: loving and kind. Other than that, you'd have to ask the readers.
If the book were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye ?
  • Eva Green would play me.
How have readers responded ?
  • They have all liked my book very much. Comments are - "Reading it felt like a friend talking about her life" and "She uses such vividness when describing different scenes from her life, from the weather to the food and music she encounters, that I felt that I was right there, with her" and "It was really interesting to learn about Parisian culture and see how, as the book goes along, Juliet adjusted to French and being Parisian."
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • I'm not working on anything right now. I'm taking a rest.
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Carefree, confident and curious about the world around her, Juliet takes leave from her comfortable existence back home and embarks on a journey to Paris. Her goals are to perfect her French, find a job and have exhilarating adventures in Europe for a year or two.

Chronicling her story from an idyllic childhood in a Toronto suburb to France where she lives and works today, we follow Juliet—first to Montpellier to study French at Paul Valéry University only to end up in the role of French housewife at the age of 24—and onwards to Paris where she discovers the city and its residents, hunts for a job and an apartment, works in an advertising agency and then at Reuters, all while rollicking adventures—romantic and otherwise—are thrust upon her.

A feminist, Juliet finds France to be a deeply patriarchal and sexist society, and the women acquiescent.

At the book’s core are Juliet’s loving and successful parents. She plans to return home and to them, and settle permanently. But when her father suddenly dies, and her mother six years later, her world comes crashing down.

The book is called An Accidental Parisian because it was never the author’s intention to stay so long in a foreign country. In an endeavor to understand how this happened, she must cast back to her beginnings—and her parents’ beginnings—and piece together the forces, choices and circumstances that brought her to where she is today: a French national and citizen of three countries, still living and working in Paris.