Miming in French is a middle grade novel, meaning that its main audience is children ages 9 to 12, but I’m hoping that readers of every age will find it interesting and engaging. JK Rowling more than pulled that off, didn’t she? The novel is about an eleven-year-old girl named Livvie who’s forced to move to France with her mom after her parents’ divorce. At first, she feels like she’ll never fit in, in large part because everybody in her new school speaks a different language. But soon she makes friends with another girl in class named Malika, who’s an outsider too. Malika is French, but she’s also a Muslim. Together, with the help of a mysterious street mime, the two girls learn the meaning of true friendship—and also how the people you meet in life can often turn out to be very different from what you first expect.
A little backstory: As you know if you’ve read my other posts, several years ago I lived in Aix-en-Provence, France, with my husband Chris and two daughters Isabel and Faye while we were on a six month sabbatical. Isabel and Faye attended a local public elementary school in Aix.
They didn't speak any French at first, which was challenging, but overall the experience was really rewarding for both of them, even life-changing.
The population of Aix is an interesting mix of Mediterranean people, with a significant percentage of North African descent. The mix of people living there, in the context of France's complicated history and our current global challenges, got me thinking about and imagining what might happen if an American girl befriended a French Muslim girl. I'm an avid Francophile and have loved the times I've lived in France, but the country struggles with social issues just like anywhere else and I wanted to explore some of those themes in this novel. At the end of our stay in Aix, I asked Isabel and Faye if the children they had met there were any different from their friends back in Vermont and they both responded “no” without any hesitation. If they had learned nothing else from their experience of going to school in France, this would have been enough.
If truth be told, another reason I wrote this novel was because I wanted to stay in Aix vicariously after we had returned to the US. Aix is a beautiful, fascinating place, layered with Mediterranean vivacity and complexities that I find exhilarating. Writing about it from my desk in Vermont in and around my other work kept it alive for me.
The book took me about 18 months to complete. Then I spent some time revising it and vetting it with various friends, family members, fellow writers, and even a group of students in my daughter’s 6th grade class (a big thanks to those of you who read early versions of it!).
When the manuscript was finally ready to send out, I was thrilled to land an agent in New York. He’s a reputable agent and he was enthusiastic about the book, but this was around the time that the economy tanked and the publishing industry was contracting. My book got lost in the shuffle. Publishing is in a state of enormous transition, and new opportunities for a global readership have opened up online. After learning about e-publishing from other writers, I decided to jump in myself as an indie author. I'm hopeful that Miming in French will be of interest to a broad readership around the world who otherwise would have remained out of reach had I published the novel traditionally.
So what does all of this have to do with a Vermont-based food blog? Quite a bit, actually. I’m the creator of both, of course, so if you like my writing in my blog, you’ll probably like my novel. If you’re interested in getting a glimpse into what it’s like for an American to live in Aix-en-Provence, the novel will give you that. For you food-lovers out there, there’s a goodly amount of food and French culture woven in; I couldn’t help myself.
A significant difference, though, is that Miming in French is fiction, so all the characters and the plot are fictional, created from my imagination. In case you’re wondering, the character that I most identify with is Livvie, the eleven-year-old protagonist. As for the mime, I was inspired by the fascinating performers found on the streets of Aix.
The ebook will be released on April 1st, but it’s available for pre-order now at Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble. You can sample the first 40 pages of the book on these retailer websites and on the website of my distributor Smashwords. After its release date, the ebook will be available at all major global retailers, including Amazon, Google, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, Fnac, Flipkart, Baker & Taylor, WH Smith, Inktera, Versent, Livraria Cultura, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Indigo, Collins, Feltrinelli, Libris, Paper Plus, Play, Rakuten, Whitcoulis, and others. It’s a whole new world out there in book publishing and I’m excited to become a part of it.
I’ve recently joined Twitter and tweet about all things related to The Vermont Epicure and Miming in French (and other miscellany), so follow me at https://twitter.com/smcgroryklyza if you’re interested in getting updates. If facebook is more your speed, I also have a page for both: https://www.facebook.com/TheVermontEpicure?ref=hl and https://www.facebook.com/MiminginFrench?ref=hl.
After you’ve read my book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. And please pass it along to any young people, or otherwise, whom you think would be interested. Merci!