**Giveaway is now closed**
Kirsten Lobe, author of "Paris Hangover" and "French Trysts," took the time to chat with us about her latest book "Paris, Baby!," a memoir about what its like to be a single American woman, pregnant in the City of Lights. Kirsten is a former fashion designer and has lived in Tokyo, Lake Geneva, Paris, and New York. For some lucky readers anywhere in the world, Kirsten has three copies of "Paris, Baby!"
To learn more about Kirsten, you can find her on Facebook.
You have lived in Paris, Tokyo, New York, and Lake Geneva. What is your favorite thing about each place?
Fascinating and fun question.
Paris- everything save the occasional dog mine on the sidewalk! I love every time of day from the sound of tiny birds singing in the Jardins de Tuileries at 3 am to the way the streets are empty on Sunday mornings as everyone is home leisurely preparing for the familial ‘Dimanche dejeuner en famille’, the aroma of fresh baguettes drifting out of a Boulangerie in the morning to the Guerlain perfume that hangs in the air passing after a woman sashays past you on the street. Rain, storm or shine, Paris is enchanting and captivating. Oh, right, you have asked about other cities too didn’t you?! ..Obviusly, one gets carried away when asked about Paris.
Tokyo was wonderful in its appreciation of its exquisite traditions; brush paintings, geisha’s, sumo’s, tea ceremonies, Kabuki, celebrating nature whether it’s cherry blossoms, zen rock gardens, bamboo gardens or volcanoes. I also lived in the neighborhood Roppongi, the hippest of areas, so it was a treat to be able to speak English when I needed to and still live and learn the culture without too brutal of culture shock.
New York was like finding my soul mate when I moved there at age 20. Finally, my manic energy, rapid fire speaking and ambition, fit right into the flow of society. I loved living there every day until I moved to Paris, but now, I think my need for that dynamism and hectic drama in just getting from point A to point B, is well satiated.
All the years in Paris, made me appreciate pausing to linger in the beauty of the wind, the feel of a cobblestone bridge under foot, and the transformative experience of watching the sunset meld into a peachy lavender Maxfield Parish painting.
Lake Geneva- Love it for the presence of family and unexpectedly, for the experience of feeling the roots & the landmarks events of my life spurred by my childhood surroundings-- every day, as I pass this building (Celebrated my 16th birthday there in a dyed grey wedding gown I got a vintage store..) or that one (went on my first date where I drank champagne there with my first big amour), it’s nice to touch base with who you were and who’ve you become by going away and returning with fresh eyes. Also, it’s spectacular for raising children; surrounded by nature which is the essence of curiousity and imagination. These became vital issues to me when I became a maman.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing "Paris, Baby!"?
Finding the time!! My son was a year and a half old when I began the book and as you can imagine, as the sole parent from day one, it was quite the feat to even get a brush thru my hair, let alone, sit down and type anything literate! As much as I could’ve used a nap when Oscar took his afternoon seiste, I dedicated myself to writing the book in those scant precious hours. Needless to say, I wrote my first book, ‘PARIS HANGOVER’ in a month and this one took almost 9 months! A birth indeed!
How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing?
Of course, just playing with my darling boy, Oscar. In fact, I think of him as my best little buddy, full time job, hobby, past time, everything. Clearly, I am one of those mothers for whom everything else pales. That said, I adore to garden, drink wine and eat cheese as much as I can without exploding, hang out with family; we are a bevy of characters for sure, and to read whenever I can steal some time. I think you have to read as much as you write to be any good at it; it’s like speaking a foreign language—saturate your life with words that keep you stimulated and on your toes.
If "Paris, Baby!" were made into a movie, who would you choose to play the lead roles?
After years of round robin in Hollywood with producers, HBO, etc..where my books were almost films, soon-to-be tv series, etc..I have learned to not fantasize too much about these tantalizing ideas..Still, I guess I could envision someone like Cate Blanchett (I wish!) as she can be hilarious while effectively and genuinely carry the emotional scenes with my mother, the birth, etc..And Diane Lane, as I just adore her work, the obvious; Sarah Jessica Parker for her comedic timing or possibly Naomi Watts.
What made you decide to trade fashion for writing?
I actually had a couple more careers in between! I segued out of fashion before I moved to Paris. The last year or so I was in Tribeca, NYC, I painted exclusively enormous oils and realized I preferred to be more personal in expressing my creativity, then fashion allowed. I continued to paint and do bronzes in Paris and designed a collection of jewelry. But after several years in St. Germain, self-financed, the funds of my savings started to dwindle and I thought, ‘what can I do that takes little start up funds, and would either work from the get-go or not?’ As I have written every day in a journal since age 7, it seemed a fluid and obvious endeavor to embark on. I was very fortunate to succeed right out of the gate and get a book deal within a month’s time!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would like to go to Nepal and trek. If I could push ‘pause’ for a month on my daily life and trail into the mist, that would be a spiritual sojourn that I would love to experience. I am forever speaking, moving like lightening and being animated with my son and while that’s just a joy and imperative as a parent, it would be heaven to be silent and peaceful for days on end.
What is your usual writing routine?
Now, there is no usual structured writing routine per se. I have to squeak in time when I find it; if my son falls asleep early one evening or, if when he is at preschool in the mornins, I can write instead of pulling Play Dough off the carpet, these are my moments! Pre-motherhood, I would write every afternoon after lunch from 1 until about 4 or 5 pm and then dress to the nines, meet friends at a cafe and dance until dawn. Now, the only thing happening at dawn is my son, sticking a crayon up my nose to wake me up to play!
Why did you choose to write "Paris, Baby!" as a memoir rather than fiction as you did with your other two novels?
I had such kind and touching feedback from readers all over the world on the first book (that was clearly a very thinly veiled memoir); that what resonated with them, was the raw honesty and the way I put it all out there; insecurities, passions, heartbreak, self doubt, all my internal private emotions and the frank truth about the French men, sex and culture. So, I learned via my readers, that they appreciate the ‘real story’ and that whether they live in Perth or Prague, the adventure of finding love, oneself, meaning and purpose, is our common binding thread.
What advice can you offer others traveling to Paris for the first time?
Indeed, there are a few great tips, 1. Brush up on your polite French phrases for basic greetings and requests. The French so very much appreciate and respond well to even meager attempts at their language, It is very obtuse and impolite to assume they prefer to speak English to their beautiful mother tongue. Dress well and elegantly, as wrong or right, you will receive far better service. Always say, Bonjour’ when entering a boutique, cafe or restaurant and ‘Merci’ when you leave even if you didn’t spend one centime. Tip well and be patient; Parisians like to linger at every meal, take forever to order at the Patisserie and move at a civilized calm pace.
You used to be a fashion designer, what is your number one fashion rule?
Just be impeccably well groomed and polished and you will always be chic. Whether you’re in a classic white tee with skinny jeans and sandals or you’re in a little black dress-- fresh faced, a great haircut, buffed nails, a spritz of parfum and a top notch shoe, one piece of interesting unique jewelry and your set. Skip the hairspray, complicated hairstyle, mascara and heaps of jewelry, less is more! Unless of course, we are talking about Champagne! Then quaff with abandon and, toast glass flutes uttering, “Chin, chin, Vive La France!”.
Special thanks to Kirsten for answering my questions and sharing her book with our readers.
How to win "Paris Baby":
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Giveaway ends September 19th at midnight EST.