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Interview and Giveaway with Laura Florand!

lauraflorand-onceuponarose

Welcome to UTC, Laura! Since this is your first time here, let’s get to know you better! Who is Laura Florand? Tell us five interesting things about yourself that readers wouldn’t know about you!

Hmm…something readers don’t know. So I guess my taste for chocolate doesn’t count? This one is a bit tricky, because I have a published memoir, and often meet complete strangers who, every time I try to contribute some interesting anecdote to the conversation or even mention my favorite color (blue), say, “Yes, I know! I read it in your book!” It’s a little disconcerting. If you ever think you want to write a memoir, proceed with caution.

Let’s see…

–I once came in second in the Great Grueling Triathlon of Doom.

–When I lived in Tahiti, I learned how to paraglide off the cliffs there, but I always landed in the trees, so I gave that up. Very tedious, landing in trees. Also a good way to break something that would take six weeks to heal.

–I could never learn to scuba dive because I get too seasick. (I get seasick in a hammock.)

–I once ran a semi-professional Polynesian dance group. We performed once in front of the razor wires of a prison—not for the prisoners, who couldn’t see us, but it was a contrast I’ll never forget.

–I really, really do not like snails. As a food, I mean. They’re okay crawling around out there doing their thing. Actually, that one might be cheating, because anyone who has read Blame It on Paris (the memoir) might have been able to gather that dislike.

Can you please tell us more about your La Vie En Roses series?

Set in the south of France, in one of the last great valleys of roses still left from the time when this whole region was full of flowers, it takes us into the heart of a family whose production of fragrance has dominated the region for four centuries. Today, five male cousins both jockey for position with each other and always have each other’s backs, as they fight to preserve and expand their family heritage.

I love working on this series! This region of France is so beautiful, full of scents and old stone, ancient villages sit on hilltops overlooking the blue Mediterranean. The whole region is just buoyant with sunlight and joie de vivre. While I’ve clearly loved the intensity and romanticism of Paris in my Amour et Chocolat series (and the chocolate!), I’m really enjoying being in this sunnier, scent-filled world.

ONCE UPON A ROSE is the second book in the La Vie En Roses series. What can you tell us about Layla and Matt’s story?

It’s actually the first book! One of the Chocolate books, The Chocolate Rose, also serves as a prequel to this series, so I think that gets people confused. And there are a couple of novellas leading up to it, Turning Up the Heat and A Rose in Winter. But this is the official series launch!

I have to confess I love this book. I think it is the sweetest (least angsty) of all the books I’ve ever written. Grumpy, growly, big bear Matt is really the softest teddy-bear on the inside, if only he dared let that softness out.

And burnt-out rock star Layla just reaches toward his heart so instinctively, exposing it in all its vulnerability.

Matt is the third-eldest cousin, but because his father was the firstborn of his grandfather’s sons, he’s the one lined up to become future family patriarch and heir to their great rose valley. This creates friction with his cousins but also ladens him with responsibility. He must protect the valley. It’s his family heritage, and it’s also the whole culture’s heritage, a world patrimony.

And then this cute girl shows up at his door…and he discovers that she’s inherited a house and several acres of land right in the middle of his valley.

He has to protect his valley, because it’s his heart.

But…she seems to have more than one way to find the most vulnerable parts of his heart.

And Layla is seeking retreat. A burnt-out rock star incognito, she needs to find a space where she can write her next album. She’s always been footloose and fancy-free, the last person in the world anyone would think would fall for a man bound by four hundred years of history and the five million tons of earth that make up his valley.

But he might have more than one way of reaching her heart, too…

Sounds like a load of fun! What can you tell us about the next book in the series?

It will be Tristan’s book. He’s the youngest of the five cousins, a consummate flirt, and one of the top perfumers in the world. And he meets the one woman who leaves him completely tongue-tied, so that all his flirting skills abandon him, every time she looks his way.

The backdrop of France is an important part of this book and series. What is it about the French culture and country that appeals to you?

I love the focus on quality of life and friendship in the French culture, the priority given to things like long meals, tastes, textures, sensuality. And writing in that culture allows me to slip just a little sideways into a fairy tale, even while set in the present. So I love that.

And I also think that I first started writing about France as a way to keep afloat in some ways. A way to process. Because I was already pretty immersed in French culture—living there, studying it, spending really all my time in the French language—when I met my husband, who’s Parisian (and pretty hot Frenchman himself, I happen to think!). And then it was like a dam broke, and I was just inundated in another culture. The time I spent writing was the only time I used English, ever, and that was probably part of where my first published book, a memoir, came from—my way of re-possessing my own experience, of taking control of it, of processing this encounter of cultures and balancing them both.

Before that, growing up, I’d always written fiction, so I think it was natural that once I got the memoir out of my system, I went back to writing novels, but this time ones that looked at the romance and beauty of France, of falling in love across cultures, of the sensuality of life.

I swear I’ll write some more books set in the U.S. one day—in fact, I have two, Snow-Kissed and Sun-Kissed—but there’s something so inherently magical about France that it suits my preference for a fairy-tale-touched story very well.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

I usually get up very early, 3:30 or 4:00, and write until my daughter gets up. Then it’s breakfast, and usually off to campus. On days I don’t teach, I might be able to write a bit more, but it depends on the other demands from my university career (grants, meetings, etc.). I used to write again after my daughter went to bed, and still often do when I’m trying to get on top of my workload, but these days I’m trying to find a better balance and spend the evening in a non-work way. I often don’t manage to take that break, though—finding the balance is still an act in progress.

Wow! It must be hard balancing different aspects of your life like that. Keep up the great work! Now do you prefer ebooks or print books?

Both, really. But ebooks make everything so much easier, in terms of travel—I can carry as many books as I want with me, and I can download new ones whenever I run out.

If we were unforgivably rude and went through your purse, what would we find in there?

Lots of notes and loose receipts and business cards! Other than that, it depends on the purse. There’s the giant one that holds my laptop, too, and in which you can find all kinds of things—melted chocolate, old barrettes—and the small one that really only has a wallet, keys, and a phone. And chocolate, of course.

Who has been your ultimate book boyfriend crush? Why?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. I’m quite fond of Aragorn, to be honest. And of course I love Curran (Ilona Andrews Magic series). Although in both cases, I feel they might be very difficult to actually live up to and live with.

What’s next for Laura Florand?

Next up is another addition to the Amour et Chocolat series, which will perhaps start a spin-off of that series. We go back to Dom Richard’s salon de chocolat from The Chocolate Touch, for the story of his chocolatier Célie. Her older brother’s best friend is back from the Foreign Legion. She’s both thrilled that he’s home alive and still furious at him for running off to it in the first place.

It’s going to be really fun to work with a female top chocolatier for once! Magalie in The Chocolate Kiss also made chocolate, particularly her hot chocolate, but of course, to her great annoyance, Philippe in that book and any other “real chef” considered her an amateur. Célie can hold her own against all those other arrogant French chocolatiers and is quite happy to do so. So I’m having a lot of fun with her!

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Laura! It’s been a pleasure.

Thanks so much for having me on! I’m so glad to get a chance to “meet” some of your readers. Thank you all for joining me here!

once upon a rose

She stole his roses.

Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.

He wants them back.

Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?

Or maybe he just wants her.

When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.

It might involve kissing.

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the chocolate rose once upon a rose

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About Laura Florand

Laura Florand is the international bestselling author of the Amour et Chocolat series (The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, etc). Her books have been translated into eight languages, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Four of her past five books have been recommended reads by Dear Author and two have been Sizzling Book Club Picks by Smart B*, Trashy Books.

Laura was born in a small town in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking in New Zealand and Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman. You can find out quite a bit more about those crazy adventures in her memoir, Blame It on Paris. She is now a lecturer in Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, that means she studies and teaches French language and culture, rather than romance. Fortunately, French culture includes French chocolate, research to which she is very dedicated. You can catch some glimpses of that research in the books, on her blog, and on her Facebook site, where you are welcome to join her and other readers!

 

giveaway

Laura is graciously giving away an ebook of ONCE UPON A ROSE to one lucky Maiden!

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Timitra

Great interview…thanks for the great giveaway too

Ruth

Growling and blushing?!? I am so in! 🙂 Great interview.

Amy R

I enjoyed the interview, I’ve read great things about Laura Florand’s books.

erinf1

I’ve read such great reviews for this author!!! Thank you for the fun interview!!!

Elizabeth

Great interview. …thanks!

bn100

interesting setting

ML

I can’t imagine getting up at 4 AM and writing. Getting up at 4 AM and injecting the coffee intravenously, yes, but writing? What a feat–and she does it every day!

Mary Preston

A great post. The early start would kill me.

Texas Book Lover

I love romances that include families so I’m sure I would love this!

DeborahK

ooh! Growling, pouncing and kissing. Once Upon a Rose sounds like my kind of read!

Jennifer Schaber

I hadn’t heard of this author before, but I look forward to reading her. I loved the blurb, too!

Linda Levine

Thanks for the info on the book

Deb James

Thank you for the interview and the giveaway