Jennifer Bohnet is an English writer whose thirteenth novel was published earlier this month. She has sold hundreds of shorts stories to the women’s magazine market in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. She even had her own newspaper column in a group of local Devon papers at one time. Jennifer’s latest book (impressively, number 13), Villa of Sun and Secrets , was published by Boldwood Books on 8th August.
I’m very interested to find out more as Jennifer is a long time resident of France. Not just ‘France’, but a cottage in Brittany, with family and dog and cats and ducks and chickens … It sounds like a dream come true. (What do you mean, I sound envious?!)
Welcome, Jennifer! You live in France, I believe, and have for quite a while. It sounds like it is a brilliant place to write.
Jennifer: I find it hard to believe but I’ve lived in France now for twenty years. After eleven years down on the Cote d’Azur where Richard was a guardien for a villa, we moved from the Mediterranean coast to a small quirky cottage in the depths of Brittany. A bit of a culture shock to say the least!
And your latest book is described as ‘an escapist summer read’ – it looks great. Can you tell us something about yourself that you think anyone who reads your book/s really ought to know?
I write contemporary women’s fiction set in places I know well and I stay true to those settings in my books. If I mention a certain street or building by name, or an historical incident that has a bearing on the storyline, it exists or the event did take place. My characters are imaginary though.
What is your favourite scene from your own writing? Why?
In my latest book Villa of Sun and Secrets I really enjoyed writing the scene where Josette meets Gordon for the first time. It’s winter time and Antibes, in the south of France, has had a snow storm – yes it does happen! Here’s a snippet of the scene:
Back in early January, after a disturbed night listening to a ferocious blizzard battering the coast, Josette had got up early and discovered the Riviera slumbering under a heavy and unexpected snowy duvet. Within minutes, she was dressed and stepping out into an eerily silent town, making her way through the empty streets to the nearest park, just one thing on her mind. Once in the park, she began to make a snowball, rolling it through the pristine snow and patting it together. When it was too big to move, she began to make a smaller one.
She barely registered the first snowball that hit her in the back, she was concentrating so hard, but the next one, arriving seconds later, got her full attention. Oooh – somebody wanted a snowball fight, did they? Carefully, she placed the smaller snowball on top of the first one before swiftly bending down, gathering a handful of snow and turning, throwing it expertly at the child who’d thrown the snowball. Except it wasn’t a child. It was a man. A man who smiled and threw another snowball at her, calling out, ‘Game on,’ as he did.
The image of these two people in their 70s having childish fun together brought a smile to my face as I wrote it.
That’s fabulous, I love it. You said earlier that settings and historical events in your novels are based in fact, but that your characters aren’t. If I told one of your characters (you get to choose which one) that they were imaginary, how would they respond?
I think Anna, the main heroine in Rendezvous in Cannes, would laugh and say, ‘I’m involved in the film world, darling. Everything in that world is a product of someone’s imagination – including me!’
She sounds delightful! Can you think of any books and/or writers who inspired you on your path to be an author? Can you tell us about that?
Oh a difficult question! I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always read a lot. When I read Katherine by Anya Seton years ago, I longed to write historical stories – and quickly realised that wasn’t my genre when I tried. Penelope Lively’s The Ghost of Thomas Kempe and Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden had me trying my hand at children’s books, again not my genre to write (although YA might tempt me yet). Favourite authors of the last ten years or so have included Joanna Trollop, Marcia Willett, Veronica Henry, Jill Mansell, Erica James – I suspect all have influenced me and my writing in someway.
Take yourself back ten years – what would you like to tell yourself?
To stop worrying about the future that things would work out – and they mostly have.
Good advice! What’s next for you in the world of writing?
My next book with Boldwood Books will be out February 2020 and I’ve got two more books to write for them – as well as editing my backlist for re-publishing. It’s going to be a busy winter!
It certainly is! And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character – one of yours, or someone else’s?
I think I’d enjoy being Eloisa from my novella You Had Me at Bonjour. Half Italian, half French slim and fun, she’s a feisty lady with attitude – a good attitude I hasten to add – who grabs life and seizes the day. A true extrovert – unlike me in real life.
I’d very much like to meet her – but it has indeed been a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us on last Word of the Week. More power to your pen!
Amazon link: http://mybook.to/VillaofSun
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/@jenniewriter
Facebook Author page: goo.gl/PDKQ8D