Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with Janet Skeslien Charles and book giveaway!



**Giveaway is now closed**

Janet Skeslien Charles hails from Montana but has been living in France for the last ten years, after traveling overseas. She spent time in Odessa, Ukraine, which inspired her debut novel, "Moonlight in Odessa" (reviewed here).

How fitting that our names are Melissa and we're interviewing someone who won an award named after another Melissa? That's right, Janet Skeslien Charles won the highly coveted Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance this past summer!

Janet is very friendly and we enjoyed learning more about writing and traveling through her eyes. She has also offered to give away two copies of "Moonlight in Odessa" to readers anywhere in the world!

MA: How did you feel when you won the Melissa Nathan award?
JSC: When I learned that Moonlight in Odessa was six of 80 books to be shortlisted for the award, I was thrilled. When I bought Melissa Nathan's novel The Nanny, I learned that she died when she was only 37, and I could not stop thinking about her and her family, especially her young son. I am 39 and don't know what I would do without my mother...

The award ceremony was a charity gala in the very posh Cafe de Paris and it was lovely to meet Sophie Kinsella and Joanna Trollope, two of the judges for the award. It was an honor to win and to spend an evening surrounded by Melissa's family, friends, and fans. I was so honored when Sophie Kinsella said, 'The winner this year was Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles, which is a fantastically quirky, wry and funny story with some great characters. I highly recommend it.' What could be better?

If you would like to see some of the photos from that evening, you're welcome to check out my blog post.

MP: What is your usual writing routine?
JSC: I write in the morning when my mind is fresh. In the afternoon, I read and research, then in the evening, I answer e-mail pertaining to the novel.

MA: Do you have plans for another novel?
JSC: I would like to write another novel set in Ukraine, then move on to Montana and Paris as settings. To me, the setting of a novel is a character that shapes the story.

MP: How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing or working?
JSC: To be honest, if I am not writing, I am thinking about it. Perhaps revising a scene in my head or listening to people talk and making mental notes of the cadence of their voices, thoughts that seem important to them, or funny phrases that they say.

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. My friend Anca and I meet once a week to write in a café, which is always a treat.

MA: If "Moonlight..." were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
JSC: Don’t you love the word ‘casterbation’ – dreaming about would play the roles of the characters of your favorite books? To be honest, I don’t think too much about it. For Tristan, I think someone like Russell Crowe, a brute, would be interesting. I would love to see my characters on the big screen. Who do you think should play Daria?

MA: Side note...I could see Emmy Rossum as Daria.

MA: Was Emerson based on the town in Montana where you grew up? If not, have you ever been to towns similar to Emerson?
JSC: Emerson wasn’t based on any specific town. I just wanted to show the positive and negative aspects of life in a small town through the eyes of a big city girl. Personally, I live in a city now and miss small-town life.

The name of the town came from a young woman I worked with when we attended the University of Montana with. Her name was Elizabeth Emerson. I loved her positive attitude and free spirit.

MA: What was your favorite thing about living in Odessa?
JSC: My favorite thing about Odessa was without a doubt, the fabulous people that I met there. I loved my friends, neighbors, and coworkers. They were so generous and open and kind.

I also loved the sea, the lush green parks and flowers, and the French and Italian architecture.

MP: Have you gone back to visit Odessa since you left?
JSC: Yes, I have been back several times to visit my neighbors and my students. The last time I went, my husband came with me, which was a real treat.
You have been living in Paris for over ten years, do you plan on staying there permanently?
I never planned on living here. Like many Americans who come to Paris, I meant to stay for just a year. Then I kept re-applying to stay as a teaching assistant. It is hard to believe that a decade has passed so quickly. My husband and I just take things one year at a time. It would be hard for me to think that I would never return to live in America. I would love to teach creative writing at a small college in America. I love American university towns, the friendliness of the people, and taking classes – I am a life-long learner.
My husband and I spend time in South Carolina each winter -- so many colleges and activities to enjoy. This year, we were in Charleston and loved the energy of the city. We wanted to move there!

MP: What is your favorite thing about living in France?
JSC: I love that everyone, whether they are a CEO of a huge company or a waitress, has paid time off for vacation (five weeks) and health care. That may not be very romantic or sexy as an answer, but it does mean a lot to know that you don’t have to worry about how you will pay your medical bills or your children’s medical bills if disaster strikes.

MA: I read that you met your husband on your first day in France. What was that first meeting like?
JSC: The short story is that we met on my first day in France. The long story is that I had helped his brother, who was working in Montana. When I got a job in France, his brother asked him to pick me up at the airport and to drive me to Mulhouse, France, where I had a job teaching English.
I had spoken to my husband once over the phone and loved his French accent. The way he said ‘ah leetle’ instead of ‘a little’ was so charming! I was looking forward to my new job but also looked forward to meeting my friend’s older brother. We spent the day in Paris – just walking the streets and stopping in little cafes – before driving five hours to Mulhouse. At the end of the day, I was already in love and knew that we were meant to be together. And he says that knew it, too.
I think these first moments of falling in love are universal, we can all relate to them and appreciate them. That’s why I wanted to write about different kinds of love in Moonlight in Odessa, and to show the different ways we can meet and the vast impressions we can have of someone at first. Can first impressions be right? Can they be changed? It was a fun idea to explore.

Special thanks to Janet for answering all our questions and providing the books for the giveaway.

Thanks also to Melissa P. for asking such thought provoking questions.



How to win "Moonlight in Odessa":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted.)

For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite thing about the country/province/state/city where you live?
OR
2. Please tell us: What was (or is) your most favorite job?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

Giveaway ends Monday, September 13th, at 6 pm EST.

63 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great interview! I can see falling in love with someone who said "a leetle"!!! Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I follow this blog.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

My favorite thing about Tucson is the other-worldly vegetation - huge saguaros, beautiful flowers coming out of spiny cacti, and in general plants that look like they come from a science fiction movie!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Jonita said...

Great interview- I can't even imagine getting to meet Sophie Kinsella and Joanna Trollope!!!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I live in Ontario, Canada and there are TONS of things I love about living here. I love the South Coast, filled with beaches. I love the sense of community of my small town. I love the annual fairs and events that I can count on to happen every year. And, yup, I love free Health Care!!!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I am a follower of this blog through GFC.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I follow CLC on Facebook.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I've added this contest to my sidebar at http://book-chic.blogspot.com.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Sarah said...

Great interview and thanks for the chance to win!!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I love the weather in WA....we get a little bit of everything:)

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I am a loyal follower!!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I tweeted @happymama82

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I am a member of facebook:)

foxchick0323@live.com

Vera said...

I would love to win! I'm originally from former USSR and have many friends from Odessa!

vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

My favorite job was a seasonal/Christmas job at Zany Brainy wrapping toys for kids :)

vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I'm a follower vvperesk2gmail.com

Vera said...

I'm a member on Facebook! vvperesk@gmail.com

Ruthie said...

Loved the interview...she sounds like fun to be with. Please enter me, thanks.

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

FB follower

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

I live in North Carolina because it has a 'leetle' bit of everything. Mountains, beaches, great climate & VERY friendly people.

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

laura said...

lovely interview

Bonnie said...

Loved the interview and want to read this book! Best thing about upstate NY is the Adirondack Mountains! Never had a job I really loved except for now that I am retired! Love it!
I am a follower!
intrepid9923@yahoo.com

Margie said...

Thanks for the giveaway. This book looks intriguing.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

current follower via GFC
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

The best thing about our community is the fun activities...the parades, farmers markets, etc.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Moridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karenk said...

i like the changing of the seasons...

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

i'm a follower :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Tiffany said...

Let's see... I would like to win.. this sounds like a great book!
schlarmette [at]gmail[dot]com

Tiffany said...

I am a follower! yay!
schlarmette[at]gmail[dot]com

Tiffany said...

My favorite thing about where I grew up (NH) is the pizza and steak & Cheese subs... you just can't find it like that where I live. Also the Ocean and the Mountians are within driving distance... it is wonderful and I miss it!

Tiffany said...

I follow via facebook fan page too!
schlarmette[at]gmail[dot]com

Tiffany said...

I am posting this on the sidebar of my blog!
http://acozyreaderscorner.blogspot.com
schlarmette[at]gmail[dot]com

Dreamworld Book Reviews said...

This novel looks super fun, I'd LOVE to read it! Enter me in the contest. My email is dreamworldbooks@gmail.com.

Dreamworld Book Reviews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dreamworld Book Reviews said...

My favorite thing about being in Las Vegas is the people-watching. I get a kick out of watching all the women wearing the highest heels they can find and being unable to walk in them, as well as watching people buying the tackiest outfits they can find for Vegas. Yowzaa! Forgot my email the first time, whoops, dreamworldbooks@gmail.com.

Dreamworld Book Reviews said...

My favorite job is writing book reviews! My favorite brick-and-mortar job was working at Blockbuster Video when I was a teenager. I loved my co-workers and the fact that I supplied cheap entertainment for people. Email: dreamworldbooks@gmail.com

Dreamworld Book Reviews said...

I follow this blog!
dreamworldbooks@gmail.com

Laura Rachel Fox said...

This sounds like a great read. Thanks for the interview.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

My most favorite job was as a Librarian in Kansas City, MO. I fell in love with the Library & the city.

Laura Rachel Fox said...

I'm a follower.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

I tweeted the contest.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

I'm a follower of ChickLitCentral on Facebook.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Heather said...

I love the winters in Texas...nice weather and no snow!
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I am a follower.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I posted to facebook.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

avalonne83 said...

Great giveaway! I'd love to be entered.

Please count me in. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at]yahoo [dot] it

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Interview, I would like to see Odessa, now.

My favorite town is Bloomington, IN. Not living there now. It has a lot of events to go to: dog shows,
plays, speeches, special appearances, great library, the local one and the IU one, lots of great places to eat. I really feel like my roots are there along with Nashville, Indiana and Brown County with its great scenery.

I am a GFC follower of this blog.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Samantha said...

I would love to win! I also follow you on Facebook and posted the contest on my Facebook!

samantha at chicklitplus dot com

piabernardino@bermillion.com said...

1. My husband and I love everything in Bellevue, WA, from the weather, the trees to the people.
3. I am a followe
4. Posting on facebook and twitter.
5. I am a follower of this blog

piabernardino@bermillion.com

Meg said...

Oooh, please count me in!

writing.meg [at] gmail.com

Meg said...

My favorite thing about Maryland, my home state, would be the pride we have in our Chesapeake Bay (and crabs!), our sports (even though our teams are often terrible!) and our proximity to so many places, like D.C. and New York (if we're so inclined!). I love being on the East Coast, and definitely love being a Maryland girl!

writing.meg [at] gmail.com

Meg said...

I'm a blog follower. :)

writing.meg@gmail.com

Meg said...

And, last but not least, I'm a fan on Facebook!

writing.meg [at] gmail.com

Kathryn said...

Another great interview ladies!

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kathryn said...

My favourite thing about the city I live in is simply that my family is here too. And there are too many things to list about why I love Canada.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kathryn said...

I am a follower of this blog.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kathryn said...

I've posted this on Facebook.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kathryn said...

I've joined Chick Lit Central. :)

ladykathryn@rogers.com

ukraine-vacation-guide.com said...

Odessa is a pearl of Ukraine and the Black Sea and lots of tourists visit this wonderful city every year. To feel an atmosphere of Odessa, visit its cozy cafes and talk to local people. Ukraine Travel Guide created a directory of the best Odessa cafes to help tourists. You may also find there tips on accommodation, car rent, theatre guide and much more. Actually, you will find there everything you may need for Ukraine tourism.