I'm delighted to welcome best selling author Jennifer Bohnet to Oapschat. Jennifer is a West Country girl now living in the wilds of rural Brittany, France. She's still not sure how she ended up there! The saying 'Life is what happens while you're deciding what to do' is certainly true in her case. She's always written alongside having various jobs: playgroup leader, bookseller, landlady, restauranteur, farmer's wife, secretary/p,a - the list is endless but does provide a rich vein of inspiration for her stories.
For three years she wrote a newspaper column in The South Hams Group of Newspapers (Devon)where she took a wry look at family life. Since living in France it is her fiction that has taken off with hundreds of short stories and several serials published internationally.
Allergic to housework and gardening she rarely does either but she does like cooking and entertaining and wandering around vide greniers (the French equivalent of flea markets) looking for a bargain or two. Her children currently live in fear of her turning into an ageing hippy and moving to Totnes.
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
It's funny what triggers an idea for a story. Sometimes a character pops into my mind fully formed, or I think of a title and work a story around it. Other times I set the buzzer for 10 minutes and write without stopping whatever comes into my mind. I do find the busier I am and the more I write, the more ideas I get. I have a small ideas notebook in which I jot down random thoughts and flip through it whenever I'm stuck for an idea. Usually something springs out! And of course living in the South of France for over 10 years was an inspiration in itself!
Please tell us about your journey from writing to publication.
I can't honestly remember a time when I didn't write, although for many years it was just me scribbling away secretly in a notebook. Then, for years when the children were little, I just sort of dabbled with journalism. I wrote features for national papers, had my own column in the local paper in Devon, edited a WI magazine when we lived in Wales, wrote lifestyle stuff for a couple of woman's magazines and tried to sell my short stories with very little success. It wasn't until we moved here that my fiction finally began to sell. Short stories led to serial writing and then on to novels.
What is the best thing about living in France?
This is actually quite a difficult question to answer. The French do tend to have a laissez-faire attitude to life which I quite like - Peter Mayle once said the best thing about France was lunch. He has a point. It would be easier for me to tell you the thing I find hardest. Even after 14 years of living here I'm ashamed to say my French is still at the 'I get by' stage which means there is a serious lack of eavesdropping opportunities for me - no picking up snippets of conversation to turn into stories!
How do you relax?
Reading mainly. Am a huge Kindle fan and have to keep myself away from the 'Buy' button. Living in France finding and keeping up with English language books was always difficult until the Kindle arrived but now at the click of a button I can any book I want. I also love going to the theatre when I get a chance which is rare these days so I have a large dvd collection. I love romantic comedies like Midnight in Paris, Paperback Hero, The Good Year. Hate anything with violence - too much violence in the world to watch people enacting horrible things as well!
Who would you invite to have dinner with you? You are allowed two male and two female guests!
Only 4 guests? Shame - I love entertaining. May I make it lunch rather than dinner please?
I'm a member of the RNA but living over here I've never been able to go to any of their meetings and meet any of the people I talk to on FB and Twitter. So I think I'd like to organise a writerly lunch with Judy Astley, Marika Cobbold, Erica James and Trisha Ashley (who can bring cake!) and get to meet them face to face. Lunch would be a simple affair but there would be lots of champagne and writerly chat.
Would you survive on a desert island? You are allowed one book and one luxury.
I really doubt that I would survive on a desert island - particularly if I had to build myself a shelter of some description! I am so not practical like that! As for a luxury item - assuming there isn't any electricity on this desert island - I'd like a solar powered laptop please if they make such a thing! Failing that lots of pretty notebooks and an endless supply of pens and pencils so I can keep myself amused until I'm rescued.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the middle of writing my next novella for Carina UK due out early next year. I'm also three quarters of the way through a novel my traditional publisher is waiting to see and I've just finished my 6th serial for The People's Friend. I've also made a secret resolution to write a short story a week in 2014 - oh bother. It's not a secret any longer is it? Now I'll have to do it.
Thank you for having me.
And thank you very much Jennifer for taking part! Happy Christmas to you and your family.
To find out more visit Jenny's website http://jenniferbohnet.com/