One of the best parts of becoming a debut author has been the community of writers I have met and connected with through social media. Being able to share this once in a lifetime journey with all of them has been a really special gift. A gift made even more unique given the situation the world is currently in.
I discovered the lovely Samantha Vérant through the 2020 Debuts group and I knew immediately from her posts that she was my kind of people. In addition to writing in the same genre – contemporary women’s fiction – Sam has a quick wit and love of wine. Both of which are qualities I highly respect.
Already the author of two memoirs, Sam’s debut adult fiction novel—The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux—comes out in September. As an American living in France, she has some unique perspectives on the writing process and her journey to publication.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A classically trained mezzo-soprano, at the age of fifteen I auditioned at The Chicago Academy for the Performing and Visual Arts, but chose theater as my major. When my family moved to Boston the following year, I stayed involved in the acting community (the world’s worst actress unless I’m in a musical comedy), but thanks to an awesome teacher, art became a big part of my life. A triple threat, I could sing, act (like a clown), and draw. But I couldn’t do all three things at once, or so I thought. Once high school came to an end, it was on to Syracuse University, where I traded in arias and monologues for advertising design.
Then, one day in 2007, I finally found everything I’d been looking for: a passion for the written word. Thanks to writing, I can sing on the page, act out scenes, and design new worlds. The writing bug bit me hard. Funny, because I’d been a book omnivore since the age of three. I guess some of us find our true paths later in life.
What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was getting published?
A happy dance, along with a bunch of squees, a weird cry (and another dance-I may have fallen down), followed by champagne.
How long did it take you to write your debut novel?
Tricky question. I’ve had two memoirs and a middle-grade novel published before my debut women’s fiction. Each scenario has its own rocky road story. But, as far as my debut novel goes, it took me two years to write—a lot of research, finding an agent (I was agent-less when Sourcebooks took my memoir on), and then working through revisions with my now agent. Yep. A lot of work. Passion and perseverance! (And a whole lot of crazy! And wine. Hey, don’t judge, I live in France. The wine is good here.)
What does your writing schedule look like?
My husband leaves for work at around 6:30 am. I usually roll out of bed around 7:00, mostly because my cat jumps on me or stretches his body across mine like a furry (and very heavy) seatbelt and says in cat French, “Maman, feed me now,” as he lovingly pushes his claws into my thigh. After feeding my giant cat, I start my day by checking emails, then social media, with a cup of coffee, of course, followed by another one. Then, I shower (if I shower– a bonus of being a stay at home writer who lives in France and can’t get a day job due to her bastardized French.) By 10:00, I’m ready to dig into edits or a new WIP. I usually work until 6:30 pm, checking social media and emails sporadically. There are some cases, though, when I’ll write and revise until 11 at night. On these rare nights, when something is on deadline and I’m stressing out, my husband cooks. 😊
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk or habit?
I write down my dreams and goals, keeping them in front of my computer. It’s called manifesting and I believe in it. It’s worked for me – keeps me focused.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
How supportive the writing community is. We’ve got each other’s backs. (Oh, and publishing a book is a sloooow process).
What is your biggest writing-related dream?
My dream: to keep writing books people want to read.
ABOUT THE SECRET FRENCH RECIPES OF SOPHIE VALROUX
A disgraced chef rediscovers her passion for food and her roots in this stunning novel rich in culture and full of delectable recipes.
French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she’s dreamed of.
Until her career goes up in flames.
Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change.
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ABOUT SAMANTHA VÉRANT
Samantha Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she’s married to a sexy French rocket scientist she met in 1989 (but ignored for twenty years), a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to a ridiculously adorable French cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées or embracing her inner Julia Child, Sam is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations.
Author Website: SamanthaVerant.com
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Publisher’s Website: penguinrandomhouse.com