The Paris Book Fair: Quite Fun

Audrey Petit, Caragh O'Brien, and Sarah Millet in Paris, 2011

My French editor at Mango, Sarah Millet, kindly fetched me from the airport in Paris a couple Fridays ago, and we were joined by Audrey Petit, the sci-fi series editor of Mondes imaginares, for lunch at La Marlotte, a quaint restaurant in the 6th arrondissement.  Sarah was friendly and engaging from the first hello.  She spoke of how she came to Paris to study, stayed on to work in publishing, and has grown to enjoy the busy city as her friendships there deepen.  Audrey welcomed me warmly, too, and when I asked her how she entered publishing, she explained that she originally studied philosophy, then started editing in sci-fi and fantasy.  Eventually, she advanced to directrice de collection, and as such, she edits collections like the one I’m in at Mango and another at Orbit.  We spoke of the shortage of childcare, the beleaguered educational system, our concerns for devastated Japan, Colin Firth movies, and President Nicholas Sarkozy’s low popularity, but most of all, we talked of books. It was fascinating, and so, so fun.

In case anybody cares about such things as food, I can report that I enjoyed a creamy vichyssoise with asparagus, then salmon over a bed of creamed leaks, and then chocolate liégeoise, which is extremely rich chocolate ice cream with mountains of frothy whipped cream in a tall glass.  Note the cream theme.  Hard to go wrong there. Thanks again, Sarah and Audrey!

Afterward, we went to the Salon du Livre/Paris Book Fair, where thousands of books and booklovers filled a room so vast I couldn’t see from one end to the other.  The air hummed with French voices.  Colorful book posters hung overhead, and a stage was busy with a panel presentation.  At the grid location E44, Fleurus Editions was set up with brightly lit bookshelves and tables, like a mini bookstore.

My daughter and I, Salon du Livre 2011

I met some of the people on the team who decided to wrap my book in a ribbon—that red band of the title is actually printed on fabric—and they also showed me the website where people can take a personality quiz related to characters in the book.  How cool is that?  Two other writers for Fleurus were there, too, and I had a chance to talk with them a bit about next projects and balancing writing with life.  We’re all doing versions of the same thing, it seems.  As I sat at a table close to the aisle, with a poster of the cover of my book behind me, people stopped by to chat and ask me to sign my book.  A few even asked for photos, which I found amusing.

The happiest moment was when I glanced past my next group and saw my daughter standing there.  She’d come from Rennes, where she’s a student, to meet me, and I was so happy to see her.  Books are about bringing people together, you know?  Sometimes they bring people together in unusual places, like Paris.  I’m so grateful Sarah invited me to sign at the Salon du Livre.  For me, the entire day was unforgettable.

5 Responses to The Paris Book Fair: Quite Fun

  • I so want that chocolate liégeoise! 🙂

  • Tez ~
    Very sorry. I ate it all.

  • Still very jealous.

  • so…I’m one of those book “groupies” who actually selected Birthmarked to share with my friends.
    I really, really enjoyed the book and felt that it opened doors to so much in-dept conversation about life as we know it and life as it could be….very intriguing.
    I did have a question for you.
    The “personality quiz” that you linked in this post is in French – which I don’t speak. 🙂
    Do you know of a copy of that quiz in English. I thought it could be an interesting part of our discussion.

    Many thanks….Keep Writing!!

  • Janice ~ Thank you! It sounds like you’ve brought many thoughtful ideas to the discussion, and I’m glad you’ve found Birthmarked worthwhile.
    I’m afraid I don’t know a version of the quiz in English. My French publisher invented it, and I haven’t taken the time to translate it. This might sound a little crazy, but you might have fun creating a similar quiz on your own. It’s a unique kind of mental acrobatics. I know this from writing personality quizzes for characters in my classes when I taught, and by having teams of students write them.
    All best,

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