Every book I’ve written was borne from something interesting that struck me, causing me to research the questions raised. Usually it’s something unusual—as with The Queen of Paris. I came across a non-fiction book about Chanel with information about the famous designer that I’d never before heard. The book is Sleeping with the Enemy, by Hal Vaughan., published by Random House. After some research, I knew this was a story made for historical fiction. One I had to write.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day my son, Scott, was born. He was the light of my life. At the time I was working at various jobs, just sort of wandering around. His birth motivated me to straighten up. I had to support him. I went to college by working at a university and getting free tuition for classes in my spare time. Then I went to law school. I became a lawyer because I wanted to be certain that regardless of whatever happened in my son’s life, I could give him what he needed and protect him.
How has being published changed your life?
With publishing came new confidence and ambition and a whole new career. I’d practiced law for twenty-five years and loved every minute of it. But writing just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. My first book, Faith on Trial, was non-fiction. But I moved to fiction after that book because not only was it more fun, but often with fiction I find you can dig down to a deeper truth. Not long after Faith on Trial was published, I resigned my partnership with a large law firm and began to write full time.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m still hooked on WWII books. I’ve found a wonderful series by Jane Thynne, someone I’d not read before. She writes about a young woman spy operating in
in the years leading up to the war. I’ve so far read The Scent of Secrets and The
Pursuit of Pearls. Her research is amazing,
and I love her crisp writing style. Berlin
What is your current work in progress?
My next book is tentatively titled The Girl from Provence. It involves two minor characters in The Queen of Paris, but is not a sequel to that book. Set at the beginning of the occupation of
this is more a love story than a war story. France
What would be your dream vacation?
If money were no object I would love to spend a few weeks in
Italy in Positano, on the Amalfi
coast in Italy, and also on
the just a ferry-ride away. I’ve been to
island of Capri Capri for day trips and it’s not only
beautiful, but exploring it would be so much fun. It’s full of history.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
In the case of The Queen of Paris, as historical fiction the book dictated the settings. Which was fine with me because most of it takes place in
Paris and the south of , two
wonderful places! Sometimes I choose a setting just because I love the place,
as in the case of my trilogy of two young women lawyers struggling to climb the
ladder in a law firm in France .
(Dancing on Glass, Chasing the Wind, An
Accidental Life) I set the story in
the 1970’s and early 80’s because that’s when I was at law school and first
began practicing. And although I’ve never practiced law in New Orleans , I do consider it home and have great
memories of those days in the city in the 1960’s and 1970’s. So it was fun to
set the story there. New Orleans
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Dr. Jim Allison, head of Immunology at
. He won the Nobel Prize in 2018 for finding a
new way to treat cancer using what’s call immunotherapy. As I understand it,
this is a way to activate the immune system so that it attacks the cancer cells
instead of treating the tumor. Lessening the need for chemotherapy. Dr. Allison’s
work has given live-saving treatments to so many people who otherwise would
have had no hope. From everything I’ve read, this man has dedicated his life to
extending the lives of people with late stage cancers. This choice may sound
strange, but twenty-one years ago I was treated for cancer for a year at MD
Anderson, and for me and many others doctors like Dr. Allison who spend their
lives working to help others are amazing. I wasn’t treated by Dr. Allison and
never met him. But I would love to know how this man’s mind works! And to meet
him and say thanks. University of Texas MD
Anderson Cancer Center
Also, I’m happy to say that I’ve been completely healthy for the last twenty years, thanks to MD Anderson cancer center. And every day is a blessing.
Interestingly enough, I have a dear friend who has an inoperable cancer tumor in her brain, but it didn’t grow larger. She was sent to a team of doctors in
who studied her. She actually had antibodies
in her body that was keeping the tumor from growing. When the discovered that, they
told her they had seeking a woman who had those antibodies. They’d found men,
but no women. They’ve been using antibodies they’ve extracted from her blood to
help them in their search to find a cure for cancer. When she first told me
about it, she said she felt blessed. Chosen to be a vessel to carry what would
help others. Dallas
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to travel. My husband, Jimmy, and I have had some great and some funny adventures while traveling. I love to explore cities and new places and talk to people. But I’m not multilingual, unfortunately. Took French in high school, but when I attempt to speak the language in
they usually scream and run! Oh well. I
do Love river boat cruises—it’s relaxing and easy. Not ocean trips though. Recently
we took one on a ship from Rio de Janerio to Buenas Aires, and we hit a tropical
storm with sixty-five mile an hour winds for about eight hours. That’s almost
hurricane strength, which is seventy mph. Never again. Paris
I also love riding bikes. I have a bright yellow bike with fat tires, no gears, and an old-fashioned pedal brake. Just like the old days. Its great exercise, and I love the free feeling I get from riding.
And I’d say that researching interesting ideas or issues would qualify as a hobby. It’s just fascinating to research an issue or place or idea online and in real books, etc. In the French Quarter of New Orleans we’ve got an amazing research library. Research is critical to writing historical fiction. I try hard to keep an open mind as to both sides of my topic or issue or question. At least until I’ve completed my quest for answers. Regardless, one of my goals in
writing, is never to write with a preordained outcome agenda.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
After about three hours of straight writing, often your mind plays trick on you. When I reread I often find the words are flat, or repetitive, or just unnecessary. That when I stop, relax, and read poetry. It’s strange, but regardless of the subject, poetry seems to expand my thinking. Clears things up.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
First, read the best books you can find, and start with the classics. After that, move to contemporary classics and other really good fiction. Read to learn how different writers handle problems, plots, characters, point of view. Pay attention to how the authors do things. For example, in War and Peace, Tolstoy has a hunting scene—man and dog in the woods. The man’s looking for prey, and the dog is patiently waiting for his master. Suddenly Tolstoy switches the point of view to the dog, and what the dog is thinking at that time. It’s fabulous, and very subtle as that’s the only scene like it I can recall in that book. That one scene taught me to pay great attention to the point of view assigned to characters. (Which, by the way, was very helpful when I was writing The Queen of Paris.)
And second, become involved in the literary community, local and far away and online. Go to literary conferences—many of them have editors attending who take appointed interviews and who will review your work as part of the conference. Same with agents—sometimes you can find a great agent at a book conference. Get to know your local bookstores, librarians, writers, book clubs—online and local, and get to know anyone who loves those same things. You will not only learn a lot about the business of writing, but you’ll make friends for life that way.
Tell us about the featured book.
The Queen of Paris is the story of Coco Chanel’s hidden life in Nazi occupied
during WWII, as discovered in recently unearthed war-time files. I came across
photographs of those files in the book Sleeping
with the Enemy and was fascinated to learn that Chanel was actually recruited
as a Nazi spy during the four years that Paris Germany
during the war. She had a code name, “ France ,”
and was assigned a number. She went on missions; visited Westminster . It was just unbelievable. When I
began researching this information, to my surprise it appeared that no one had
yet written the whole story of her years during that war. But the question that
wouldn’t leave me alone was this: Why? At the time Chanel was one of the richest
and most famous women in the world. She was an icon. Berlin
So why would she agree to spy for
Chanel was such a complicated woman. So my research turned to answering the question I’d asked myself. I think I did find the right answers in the end, and I don’t think your readers will have heard this story before. My intent was to make no judgments, but just to answer the question “Why.” Judgment is up to each reader. I think Foreward Reviews summed this up best. They said The Queen of Paris reveals another room in the House of Chanel.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Unfortunately I don’t have the finished manuscript on my computer, only edit copies. But here’s the first thing the reader will see when they open the book, before the prologue. A statement which appears to be Chanel’s, but isn’t.. It’s mine.
“I’ve found the key to survival. Trust no one but yourself.”
I think these words pretty much sum up the key to Chanel’s personality. At the time that WWII began and the Nazi’s marched into
, she had reasons
not to trust. Paris
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I invite all of you to visit my website, www.pamelaewen.com. Also readers can contact me through the website, and I read every one of those and answer. I’d love to have each and every reader here sign up for the newsletter! I’m also on FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Thanks for the interesting questions,
My thoughts and prayers go out to each and every one of you in this terrible,
trying time. God Bless all of us. God bless our country, and God bless the world
and those hurting and those who’ve passed away in this pandemic.
Yes, Pamela, all of my close friends and family are praying for our whole country during this trying time. Thank you for joining us.
And thank you for sharing this interesting book with me and my blog readers. My copy is at the top of my to-be-read list. It’s my next read.
Readers, here are links to the book.The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel - Hardback (on sale for about half price on Amazon)
The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside
North America. (Comments containing links may be subject
to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: