Liz & Lisa's Book Club: I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

Our #bookclub pick for February is I'LL SEE YOU IN PARIS by Michelle Gable. We absolutely loved it and have no doubt you will too.

In fact, we have a copy for #giveaway. Just leave a comment here or on our Facebook page to be entered to #win. Contest closes on Friday, February 26th at 8pm PST.

The scoop: Three women, born generations apart.
One mysterious book that threads their lives together.
A journey of love, discovery, and truth…

I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. Nearly a century after Gladys’s heyday, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a dilapidated manse kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately, to Paris, where answers will be found at last. In the end, she not only solves the riddle of the Duchess but also uncovers the missing pieces in her own life.

Our thoughts: We were completely absorbed in this fascinating mystery from page one. A dazzling follow up to A PARIS APARTMENT.

Interview with New York Times bestselling author Michelle Gable

How did you come up with the idea for I'LL SEE YOU IN PARIS? And what do you hope readers will take away from reading it?

Artist Giovanni Boldini is a central character in my debut novel A Paris Apartment. Back in the Gilded Age, you weren’t anyone unless he painted you. In my research I studied every person Boldini ever rendered. When I stumbled upon Gladys Deacon, I knew she had to get top billing in a future novel. She’s too delicious to leave to history!

I used many of the Duchess’s expressions, mannerisms, and real-life stories throughout the novel. Yes, she disappeared from her palace. Yes, she turned up in a dilapidated Grey Gardens-style manse forty years later. Yes, she chased people with guns. My only problem was picking from the litany of bedlam.

I also wanted to incorporate a modern-day storyline. The post-9/11 angle struck me as ideal given a large chunk of the tale takes places in the final years of the Vietnam War. The juxtaposition of the two wars intrigued me: one very much supported (at least at first) and one vastly out of favor.

As with my other books, I want I’ll See You in Paris to be an escape. In addition, I hope it will send people googling to dig up the real-life people and events that inspired the book.

Congrats on hitting the NYT bestseller list for A PARIS APARMENT! First, how did you celebrate? Second, we know this took a lot of hard work and it was many years in the making.  Can you tell us a little about the publishing obstacles you faced and how you kept moving forward?

Thank you! I found out about hitting “the List” while at a late lunch with my tennis league buddies. I’d played a three-set match and was super grumpy. Though we won, it should’ve been in two sets! My friends convinced me to go to lunch afterward and I’m so glad they did. My agent called with the news and it was so much better to celebrate with friends versus sitting in front of my computer or something lame. It was a cool moment and I’ll never forget the women who with me when it happened! That night I went out to a nice dinner with my husband and daughters. The girls spent most of the meal praying I wouldn’t inform the waiter of my New York Times Bestseller status.

Sometimes it feels like “wow, this happened so fast” but then I remember, wait! It was thirty years in the making!  I've been writing since I was 10 years old after my parents gave me a book called Someday You’ll Write. From that time on, I wrote in my spare time, even in college while I majored in accounting and during my decades-long career in finance. I decided to “do something” with my passion the night of my 31st birthday. I signed with my agent in 2008 and we sold A Paris Apartment to Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press in April 2013. That's 5+ years that my agent worked for free!

What happened in that time? One canceled contract, a failed 5-way auction, and many rejected manuscripts. I plowed through it by telling myself I'd write a new book, and then another, and a new one after that. If my first book didn’t come out until I was 85, so be it! I was mostly unaffected until the failed auction. Five editors loved the book but pulled out at the last minute because “it's just too hard to sell a debut author.” Obviously that was disheartening. How would I ever leap the debut author hurdle? Two weeks later my agent sent me an article about an abandoned home in Paris, which was the true-life story that inspired A Paris Apartment.

Tell us about the research you do for your books + why you feel it's important.

Research is my favorite aspect to being a writer. I love hunting for facts and stories and even a sense of atmosphere through various methods such as the internet, interviews, out-of-print books, personal collections in libraries, old magazines, and, of course, traveling! I’ll even watch television programs vaguely related to whatever I’m working on. Much of I’ll See You in Paris takes place in the 1970s and while writing it I watched every episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Not exactly “real” research but it got me in the mood!

Writing historical fiction can be intimidating. I want to get the facts as accurate as possible. For me it’s important to nail the details, big and small. That’s why it’s often difficult to stop the research and write.

What's something about you that your readers might be surprised to learn?

I love numbers and math and working in Excel. Before I had kids, I used to read advanced Excel programming books in my spare time. Also I once had a job that involved sending faxes to members of the Bin Laden family. It was a long time ago, as evidenced by the word “fax."

Give us three words that describe your writing process.

Regimented, old-school, sunrise.

Give us three words that describe YOU while you're writing a book.

Focused, introverted, slovenly (housekeeping goes out the window).

What's up next for you?

My third novel is called Book of Summer and is slated to launch in May 2017. As with my first two, there are multiple time periods but this one takes place on Nantucket. It’s based on the real-life erosion affecting the island.

Thanks, Michelle! xoxo