I am super excited to be hosting Cerella Sechrist today for a Blogside Chat! Her latest release, The Paris Connection, is currently touring around the blogosphere, so Cerella stopped by to chat it up about her Paris, food, and her book! (You can read my review—spoiler: 5 stars!—here.)
i blog 4 books: Welcome, Cerella! Thank you so much for stopping by today! What was the inspiration behind The Paris Connection?
Cerella Sechrist: It was actually a story my editors suggested. After finding Cole to be a rather charming secondary character in my first Heartwarming novel, Gentle Persuasion, my editors asked if I’d be interested in telling his story. Since I’d had a bit of a crush on him while writing Gentle Persuasion, I readily agreed!
ib4b: What do you hope readers will take away from reading it?
CS: What I like about both Gentle Persuasion and The Paris Connection are their locales. I got to take a trip and live vicariously through the characters without ever leaving my home. I hope readers will experience that same sense of travel and culture and keep those memories as if they’d visited these places, too.
ib4b: I was definitely reminded of my visit to Paris (many years ago), so I'd say you achieved your goal! Did any part of your own life or personality make it onto the pages of The Paris Connection?
CS: The food references definitely exhibit the foodie in me! I also like to think that Emma’s loyalty to her friends is a trait I embody. :)
ib4b: After reading the book, I was surprised to read in the Author's Note that you've never been to Paris before! You wrote about it with such affection that I was sure you must have lived there for a time. :) What inspired you to set the book in Paris?
CS: It was actually a request from my editor! After being asked to write Cole’s story, I mapped out an entire plot set in the United States only to have my editors say, “We’d like to see the story set in Paris.” I was initially nervous about setting the book in a European city I’ve never been to, but I embraced it wholeheartedly and read A LOT of travel guides but even more blogs by ex-pats living in France. Through their eyes, I fell in love with the city and what the daily life must be like there. It helped, of course, that my sister has always been a Francophile, and I’ve heard many descriptions about the beauty of Paris from her.
ib4b: If you could visit Paris and only see/do three things, what would be on your itinerary for the day?
CS: I actually experienced something similar to this a few years ago in London. Due to a canceled flight, I only had about 24 hours to make the most of the trip. It’s actually kind of fun to do a trip that quickly simply because it forces you to only do the stuff you really care about. So, if I only had 24 hours in Paris and a list of three things, I’d:
Stop at the Rue Cler market and soak in the culinary culture as I picked up a few items for an impromptu picnic on the Champ de Mars in view of the Eiffel Tower.
I’d want to stop at Versailles because I’m a history buff, and I think I’d regret it forever if I didn’t get to see the beauty of this palace I’ve read about.
And of course, one can’t be in Paris for the day without visiting an art museum! But instead of something like the Louvre, I’d choose the sculptures of the Musée Rodin—sculptures are my favorite art form, and I couldn’t pass up touring the outdoor garden filled with his works, just like Cole, Emma and Avery do in the book.
ib4b: Sounds like a delightful day! Your blog, Literary Fare, combines your love for both books and food. Do you enjoy cooking? If so, do you typically follow a recipe (strictly!), start with a recipe and then get creative, or invent your own dish? Do you approach other aspects of your life the same way?
CS: I always tell people that I cook, but I don’t bake. Baking is so scientific and exact with its measurements, and I’m definitely a “pinch here, pinch there” sort of cook. I love to just randomly pull a bunch of stuff out of my cupboard and see what sort of dish I can come up with. Sometimes, it’s delicious…sometimes, not. But it’s fun to try to stretch my creativity in that way! I think I approach writing a little bit the same way. I always have a basic plot laid out, but as the story progresses, I might have to mix things up a little by throwing in this or that. I think I have a greater success rate in writing than I sometimes do by trying this method in cooking!
ib4b: Ha! I like to bake but am not the biggest fan of cooking. I guess you can probably guess from that that I like to follow a recipe and measure carefully. :) If you were to make a culinary "bucket list," what would be on your list?
CS: Ohhh, I love thinking about this! I’d want to try the true version of Turkish Delight in the country where it originated. And I’d have to eat traditional haggis in Scotland. I’d go salmon fishing in Alaska and cook it over an open fire to experience how fresh the flavors can be. I’d have to try macarons from Ladurée in Paris. I’ve already been fortunate enough to experience a traditional Hawaiian luau or that would be on the list, too!
ib4b: Okay, now I'm officially hungry! It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?
CS: My personal journey was a rather long one since I decided at 10 that I wanted to be an author, wrote my first book at 16 and began submitting it to publishers at 17 and then didn’t receive a contract until an additional 13 years later. After my first book, it was another few years until I began writing for Harlequin Heartwarming. Along the way, I worked (and still do) for my dad’s construction business as his office manager, and I also spent several years as one of the main sales clerks in a bookstore. The past few years, I’ve also been working at Starbucks. I never suspected my writing journey would take the path that it did, but each experience has molded and shaped me, and it’s only helped my writing.
ib4b: And because no one becomes a published author without a little encouragement along the way, who encouraged your love for reading and/or writing when you were growing up?
CS: My mom read to me every day as a child, and she always did it with such drama! She’s a theater personality—when she reads Dr. Seuss, every character has its own voice. She made reading so much fun that as soon as I could pick up books and read them myself, I did. When it comes to the person who has encouraged me throughout my writer’s journey, it’s definitely my sister (The Paris Connection is dedicated to her!) For every time I said, “I just don’t know if I’m meant to do this”, she’d fire back with such conviction, “You cannot give up now. I will never forgive you if you do.” Somehow, she always knows exactly what I need to hear.
ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now?
CS: I'm currently working on a four-book, contemporary romance proposal. It would take place in a seaside resort town and showcase the lives of several characters, including a chef, a food critic, a country music star, an Irish folk singer, and more. Eventually, I’d love to get back to historicals, too, since that’s where my writing journey began. I’m always excited for the next story!
ib4b: Ooh! The new contemporary romance series sounds right up my alley! I'm excited for your next story too! Thank you, Cerella, for stopping by!
About Cerella Sechrist
Cerella Sechrist lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. She has won various competitions and a scholarship for her writing, which include devotionals, full-length plays, and novels. She divides her time between working in the office of her family's construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. Her novels exhibit her love for both the written word and food in fiction. You can find her online at her website www.cerellasechrist.com where she pens Literary Fare, a food-themed blog for readers.
Cerella Sechrist Online
Cerella is hosting TWO amazing giveaways as part of this blog tour! You can enter them both through the Rafflecopters below. Both giveaways are open to residents of the US and Canada.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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