Interview with novelist Mary Fleming

Novelist Mary Fleming joins me today to chat
about her literary fiction, The Art of Regret.
I was born in
Chicago but have lived in Paris since 1981. After working as a freelance
journalist and consultant, then for a foundation, I turned to writing
full-time. For seven years recently, I lived half-time in Berlin too, which
prompted me to start writing a blog. Now I divide my time between Paris and
Normandy and write about that. The Art of
is my second novel. The first is called Someone Else.
Welcome, Mary. Please tell us about your current release.
McFarquhar is a thirty-something American who has lived in Paris since he was a
child. The move came after his sister and father died, events never discussed
in the family and therefore unresolved in Trevor’s psyche. Having done his best
as an adult to be a misfit, he runs a failing bicycle shop and maintains
scratchy relations with his family, all the while unable to give up his first
passion, photography. But in 1995, during a crippling French transport strike,
his shop’s fortunes take a turn for the better, while a liaison dangereuse shatters his personal life. Five years later,
his plan for non-living upended, Trevor is given a second chance to find
redemption and even love.
inspired you to write this book?
I am very
interested in the effect of our past on our present. We think we ‘get over’
events from long ago but we don’t, especially if we haven’t faced up to and
digested them. In one form or another our experiences stick to our ribs. The
novel is also something of an ode to Paris, a city where I have lived for many
years and which has been very good to me.
exciting story are you working on next?
I am
finishing a novel, set in the early 1980s, about an old American woman who has
lived in Paris all her adult life, and a young American, who has just arrived
and is trying to find her way in the world. The latter goes to live and work
for the former in a big old house on the place des Vosges. Both—surprise, surprise—have
complicated pasts. Their interaction is difficult. Squatters occupy the house
which, oddly, brings the older and younger women together.
Meanwhile, I
continue to write my bi-weekly blog, A
Paris-Perche Diary
When did
you first consider yourself a writer?
Privately, in
my own head, about 30 years ago. Publicly, about 20.
Do you
write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other
than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write
full-time, though that doesn’t mean I’m always writing. Stories need time to
gestate and good ideas often come to me while I’m walking the dog or running an
errand. Part of my ‘job’ is also reading and learning from other works of
I like to get
up about 6 and start writing. That quiet time, while the world around me is
still asleep, is when my mind is clearest, when I think the best. If I haven’t
started working by 10am, the day is usually a write-off, so to speak.
What would
you say is your interesting writing quirk?
when my mind feels unfocused or muddled I do a Sudoko puzzle. Getting all those
numbers correctly in their boxes helps reorder my brain.
As a
child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher or
a writer. I considered ranching too.
additional you want to share with the readers?
People say I
am lucky to live and work in Paris and they are absolutely right.
Thanks for
joining me today!

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