Here on The Paris Blog, we have featured articles on Janet Skeslien Charles, an expat writer whose debut novel Moonlight in Odessa has garnered great acclaim since its 2010 publication. Now we are honored to feature Janet’s interviews with fellow writers cross-posted here from her own blog. The latest tete-a-tete is with Anne Korkeakivi, author of the new novel An Unexpected Guest.
Anne Korkeakivi and I are both alumni of the Geneva Writers’ Conference and I am thrilled to be interviewing her about her novel, An Unexpected Guest, which will be published by Little, Brown US on April 17. It has been chosen as an April pick-of-the-week by WH Smith Booksellers here in Paris, where she’ll be reading and signing on May 31st. Also in May, the novel will be a featured alternate selection by Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, and Quality Paperback Book Club. So far, rights have been sold in Italy, Russia, Serbia, and Australia. Congratulations, Anne!
Can you tell us what your book is about?
An Unexpected Guest tells the story of an American woman, married to a high-ranking British diplomat in Paris, who is asked at the last minute to put on a dinner that could make all the difference to her husband’s career. Alas, a secret from her past chooses this same twenty-four hours to raise its hoary head. How we live with our past, how we equilibrate our private versus our public lives, global life after 9/11, modern diplomacy, perceptions of terrorism and terrorists, marriage, parenting and especially parenting in multi-national or expat families, Rodin, and even what to serve at a spring dinner party in Paris are all woven into the narrative. Clare Moorhouse, the main character, is a very multi-tasking woman!
What were some of the challenges and rewards working on it?
I am happy to say that the one mostly led to the other, starting with all the research that went into the book – from plying a retired veteran diplomat with questions about protocol to reading copious studies, histories, and interviews related to the Troubles – and how to weave that information into the story in literary fashion. Simply determining how to indicate a Northern Irish brogue without driving readers crazy took hours of study! But I came away at every step with a richer world, both as a writer and just as a person.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Writing advice? Stop to pick the fruit.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Work hard, and then work harder.