AUTHOR: Boyd Lemon
BOOK TITLE: Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany
PUBLISHER: Create Space
BUY LINK: http://amzn.to/Ab267z
1) Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.
After a lifetime in southern California and three years in Boston, the author at age 69 retires from the practice of a law and moves to Paris to eat, walk and write. He describes in vivid detail the challenges of learning French; dealing with the French bureaucracies, public and private; facing the charm and smugness of the Parisians; as well as the joys of experiencing the cuisine, quaint neighborhoods, art and history of the world’s most beautiful, vibrant city. After nearly a year in Paris he travels to rural northern Tuscany and revels in its serenity, scenic beauty and food until a shocking experience sends him home to California.
2) What gave you the idea for this particular book?
I kept a journal while I was living in Paris and Tuscany and posted it on my blog. I noticed that even six months after the last post, these posts were the most popular posts on my travel blog. So I decided to do some editing and polishing to make it more readable and am pleased at the way it turned out.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Since I am retired as a lawyer, I consider myself a full time writer. I am a “morning person,” so I generally write for two to three hours in the morning and work on promotion in the afternoon, but sometimes I write for longer periods if I am really into a project.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Not until the age of 67 after I had written a bunch of short stories and had the urge to write something longer. Since then I have realized that writing, not law, is my calling.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope that in reading my memoirs and my fiction readers will learn something important about themselves.
6) What types of writing do you prefer, and why?
I enjoy fiction and narrative non-fiction the most. I love telling stories.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
For me final editing and proofreading is the most difficult part of the writing process. I find it quite tedious, and it reminds me of writing law briefs. I also find promotion difficult. I would rather not do it, but I want people to read what I write, so I must do things to let people know that my writing is available. With the millions of books out there, that is difficult.
8) What draws you to non-fiction writing?
I am drawn to memoir because through my experiences, mistakes and insights, I feel that I can contribute to a reader’s understanding of himself.
9) What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
None, except for the law book. My other three books were fiction that did not require research and two memoirs that did not require research.
10) What about your book makes it special?
The first memoir is special because it is a man’s insights about what caused his marriages to fail, and those factors are present in many marriages, some that fail and some that don’t. My second memoir is special because it presents a American senior citizen’s experiences living in the world’s most beautiful city.
11) What is your marketing plan?
I have a website, I blog about travel subjects, including many guest bloggers. I interact with friends and connections on the major social media. I comment on other people’s blogs on subjects related to my books. I hold contests and giveaways. I talk to people that I meet about my books, and I attend public events where I can talk about my books. I also do limited, focused advertising. Finally, I write essays and stories and post them on various internet sites.
12) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
The best place is my website, http://BoydLemon-Writer.com.
13) Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
No and no. I think that agents are a dying breed, not that I harbor any ill will toward agents.
14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
Keep writing, and finish what you are writing. The two main problems I see novice writers having are quitting for long periods of time and/or never finishing a project, just flitting from one to another.
Excerpt from Eat, Walk, Write
One Saturday about 8:00 I got on the Metro and headed for Montmartre. I had been there in 2007 and remembered it for its music. When I looked around after getting off the Metro and climbing what seemed like a thousand steps, people swarmed the streets that looked like a hip Disney World. Unlike my neighborhood in the Fifteenth, where people always seemed to be going somewhere—to work, home, to visit a friend, out to eat, to the grocery store, the boulangerie or somewhere––in Montmartre, whether walking briskly or strolling, they just looked around, like they were trying to find something or somebody.
The first two cafes I spotted had no empty outdoor tables. Within a few yards I heard a dozen languages spoken. I found a café with an empty table, ordered a small pichet of white wine and began people watching.
The first thing I noticed was that there seemed to be few American tourists. Most were European. I wondered if it was the effect of the American recession. A young couple sat on the ground a few feet away, resting, speaking Spanish. Two bottles of wine sat between them. Couples walked by, wives or girl friends pointing at things. I don’t know what. There seemed to be nothing around except cafes and across the way a park with huge trees that covered the entire park, the type of park you see in European cities and on the east coast of the United States, but not in southern California. I remembered walking on this street, Rue des Abbesses in 2007. It felt different not being a tourist—more relaxing—no need to be in a hurry to see anything. I have two years to see whatever I want, I thought. It was a relief to not be studying French in my apartment, though I had my notebook out and glanced at my French vocabulary from time to time.
A man walked by in light brown leather pants, a darker brown leather vest, a beige hat with a brim not quite as wide as a cowboy hat, a dress shirt and a red bow tie. He walked by several times, the last time carrying a baguette. He must live here, I thought. I wondered what it’s like in winter when there aren’t as many tourists. I would find out. The tables were pushed together as close as possible, touching. Had I understood more than English, I could have heard everything the couples around me were saying. Most of the people were couples. I saw few people alone. I guess Paris is a couples sort of place—the city of love, or is it light? It’s a good thing cigarette smoke doesn’t bother me. A dozen people within 20 feet were smoking. A lot of Africans walked by, some in native costume. I didn’t know if they lived in Paris or were tourists. It’s sad that the French don’t treat their African residents any better than we do, maybe worse.
I saw a lot of people pointing to some steps nearby that descended to another street. When I finished and paid for my wine, I walked down the steps and followed a street to the right. There was Pigalle. I had heard Pigalle in recent years—maybe not so recent—had turned into a place to watch and perhaps get sex, and I noticed pictures and ads for lap dancers and nude shows and the like. I walked a couple of blocks. It all looked the same. As I waited for a signal light, a young man approached me and, in English, asked me to come to his bar down the way and have a drink. He said there were pretty girls there. Why not, I thought, so I followed him.
He took me inside, standing close to me, but not quite touching me. He pointed to a booth with black curtains that could be closed. I sat down. He said the drink would be ten euro. Just then an attractive brunette, nicely dressed in black, about 35, I guessed, sat down next to me and started talking in English. I don’t remember what she said. I do remember her putting her hand on my thigh. That finally jarred me to the realization that the place was a brothel. I thanked her and got up. The man who had escorted me came rushing over along with another woman, with a very short skirt and low cut blouse. They both urged me to stay, saying they would provide me with another woman. I told them no, that I had decided to leave and rushed out, clutching my bag to my body. They followed me to the door, urging me to stay, but didn’t physically restrain me. I sighed when I got out the door.
I walked back to Montmartre and heard music coming from a bar. I went in and sat down. It looked like a hip American bar from the ‘90’s. Looking around at the male couples, I concluded it was a gay bar, but nobody was paying any attention to me, except the female bartender, who asked me in English what I wanted to drink. I ordered a Margarita. Soon after, a young man sitting at a table with an older woman announced in French that it was his mother’s birthday and in her honor he was going to buy everybody—about 8 people––a drink. The bartender told me in English, but I had understood what he said. I didn’t want another drink, but didn’t feel like I could refuse. I sat at the bar, nursing my drinks and listening to the band playing a little French music, but mostly American music from the ‘70’s.
At 10:00 I was hungry and asked the bartender to recommend a good seafood restaurant. The place she recommended was crowded, but they accommodated one person. It was noisy and smoke filled—I had an outside table. I ordered a salad, escargot and mussels, and they were delicious, but expensive. I couldn’t afford it often, but I felt like I had been out to the part of Paris where the artists used to hang out, even if it was now mostly a tourist destination. I appreciated the history.