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An American in Paris

Q&A
Author Patricia Engel.

Miami-based writer Patricia Engel has just released her second book, It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, to critical acclaim, following her first book of short stories, Vida in 2010. We caught up with the author just as she was setting off on her book tour to discuss her influences, fashion and of course, Paris. 

 

You’ve just started your book tour, where are we finding you now? Where are you headed?
I'm off to Tampa where I'll read at Inkwood Books, and next week I will be in Boston, New York, and New Jersey. After that, Atlanta, then the west coast leg of the tour, and a few more east coast appearances.


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How long were you working on It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris?

This novel has had many incarnations over the years but as a concept, I can say I've been working on it for over ten years. The novel as it is now, however, was written in about three years. 

 

Did you spend time in Paris while writing the novel?

Yes. Although I've lived in Paris and spent much time there over the years, I made three trips during the writing of the novel specifically for research purposes. 

 

Can you share a few of your favorite Paris spots with us? 

I lived on the Left Bank so that remains my favorite area, all around Saint Germain. I also always make sure I visit the Rodin Museum, the boutiques in the Palais Royal and around the Marais, wander around the Tuileries gardens in front of the Louvre. I also love the Marmottan and Les Jardins de Bagatelle.

Did you pull from any of your own experiences for the protagonist’s character?

My own time in Paris is certainly part of the inspiration but I always give my characters permission to live their own lives on the page without some sort of agenda. I did live in Paris in the house of a countess, like the protagonist, but the novel's plot is entirely fictional.

Who are some of your favorite writers?
The first writers that I really fell in love with, who I feel truly changed me and the way I experienced literature at a relatively young age, are Albert Camus, Marguerite Duras, Anais Nin and Maryse Condé.

What was the first book that had an impact on your life in some significant way?
The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin.

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What was the last book you read?
Stella by Siegfried Lenz

What is your favorite thing about living in Miami?
So many things. I love the balance between natural beauty and modernist chaos. It's a city of spectacular contrasts. But I am a nature lover and spend a lot of time in parks, on the water, and at the beach.

How would you describe your personal style?
It depends on the day or night. I love fashion but I am often very distracted by my work and the recovering New Yorker in me often defaults to black.

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Who are some of your favorite designers?
My two best friends happen to be two of the most talented designers in the world: Corto Moltedo and Ronny Kobo.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, any hints you’d like to share?
I'm just starting something new. For now all I can say is that it's partially set in Florida. Just partially. 

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