Friday, February 25, 2011

Interview & Giveaway: Carolyn Moncel

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Carolyn Moncel! Carolyn is an entrepreneur and the author of Encounters in Paris. I met her through Goodreads and she was nice enough to stop by and tell us about her book. Carolyn has also graciously agreed to give away an eBook of Encounters in Paris to one lucky commenter!

About Encounters in Paris

Life is filled with random encounters and Ellery Roulet, a 35-year-old American PR executive living and working in Paris, has experienced enough of them to last five lifetimes. When betrayal, loss, mistakes, regrets and even acceptance enter Ellery's life at different times, she learns it is not what one experiences, but how one chooses to deal with those experiences that shapes the soul within. This bittersweet collection of tales shows just how messy and complicated life can be, and that sometimes there just aren't any neat and easy solutions at all.

Welcome, Carolyn! Tell us a little about yourself.

At night I write but during the day, I own two companies, MotionTemps, LLC, a digital project management company; and also MondavĂ© Communications, a media relations training company. I’ve been living in Lausanne, Switzerland since 2007 with my husband Philippe, two daughters Chloe and Jillian and a very, very old cat called Poeme.

Describe Encounters in Paris and what inspired you to write it.

Encounters in Paris is a collection of short stories. Since all of the stories are connected, it almost reads like a novella instead of a collection of short stories and that was a deliberate decision.

The inspiration came from observing life in general while living and working in Paris. Expatriate life is hard, and I wanted to address some of the more common scenarios but through the eyes of this one character. There are five stories that all center around Ellery Roulet, a 35-year-old African-American who lives and works in Paris. Ellery thinks she has everything. She is married to handsome French guy, Julien, has twin daughters and runs a successful bilingual PR firm in one of Paris’ trendiest parts of the city. Unfortunately, Ellery soon realizes that life isn’t always so perfect. In one story she loses her job, in another she finds out her husband is having an affair, and yet in another she deals with the death of her mother. She realizes that life can be quite messy; some problems can be solved while others can’t and that’s okay.

You once lived in Paris. What was that like?

My family and I lived in Paris for exactly five years, from 2002 until 2007. In the beginning, I did not enjoy living there. We moved there very suddenly due to my husband`s job. When we arrived I had two small daughters (five and two weeks old) and everything (language, culture, city, country) was completely new. Gradually I found my footing. I learned the city, made friend and my business took off. After about two years everything was fine. There were plenty of days when I was ready to leave, but I would wake up and see a beautiful sunrise or sunset and think to myself, “Well, I think I can stay just one more day!”

How much of Encounters in Paris is based on your own experiences?

I would say that these stories are about 25 percent real and 75 percent imagination. I take my inspiration from everywhere. For example, there are some aspects of my own life represented here, but only a tiny bit. I spend a great deal of time watching other people and observing how they behave or react in different situations. I also get ideas from watching television programs or reading books and magazines. My family and friends tell me some outrageous stories at times as well.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Most of the time I am a pantser to be sure. I tried to be a plotter and all I got out of it was procrastination. I really try to follow George Orwell`s advice “…Write from the heart and then edit with your head.”

What is your writing schedule like?

I write every night from 9 pm until 11 pm. I write a bit more on the weekends. On the weekends I write between 6 am and 9 am. By then my children are up and about and the real day begins.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

I just finished my next book called 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover. It will be released in September 2011. One day recently, I was walking down the street and heard Paul Simon’s song, “50 Ways to Leave a Lover.” I thought, well that song is only half right. The ways in which to leave a lover are infinite, but the reasons are pretty finite. At the end of the day, it usually boils down to death, divorce, cheating, deception, and ambivalence. So I decided to write a fresh batch of stories surrounding these themes and Ellery and Julien Roulet from Encounters in Paris return in this series, providing further explanation into their story, but there are new characters as well.

Do you have a website or blog?

Yes, I do. My website is:

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

Currently, I seem to be spending a lot of time on the African continent! I am reading some really good books right now. I just finished Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gail Parkin. I am also really enjoying The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna and Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I know it sounds like a clichĂ© but aspiring writers should persevere and never give up. All of us have experienced rejection but you just have to keep going. Over time, you learn to distinguish between bad luck or timing, cruelty and constructive criticism. Take the positive and negative feedback and use it to become a better writer, and keep reading! 

Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn! 

You have until Tuesday March 1st to comment for your chance to win the Encounters in Paris eBook!


  1. Great interview, great advice, Carolyn. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the nice interview and for drawing my attention to this bnook, sounds interesting and what a lovely cover! I so LOVE Paris, the city oozes athmosphere and that 'je ne sais quoi' :-D Would love to read your book.

    Oh my moving across the Atlantic with two small children one of them only 2 weeks old, wow, it must have been terrifying! Hats off to you, i've lived quite a bit abroad and know first hand how daunting and scary it is to be uprooted and having to start over in a completely foreign city/country/culture.

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. I'd love to read this book! It sounds great!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  4. I have never seen this book before.
    The cover is lovely.
    I hope I have the chance to read the book at gmail dot com