Michele Ashman Bell, known for her wonderful, clean romances, has written a super young adult novel. The way that Michele describes it is, a riches to rags story. This is the first novel Michele has written for the new Valor Publishing Group.
Here is what "Summer in Paris" is about...
Feeling like she's been sentenced to three months in Hickville Prison, Kenzie arrives in Idaho feeling like a square peg, with name brand clothes, in a round, horribly podunk, hole.
Leaving everything she loves behind, Kenzie is forced to get up at the crack of dawn, do chores, and hang out with her cousin's loser friends. She feels like she's about to die until she meets Adam White, the town outcast, whose been accused of killing his best friend and is being blamed for some trouble that's been happening around town.
Not only is Adam the best-looking guy she's ever seen, but he's also the most fascinating guy she's ever met and Kenzie is determined to get to know him and find out his secret. But, the longer she stays in Paris, the more she realizes, Adam isn't the only one keeping secrets.
I really enjoyed reading "Summer in Paris". It was especially fun to read because I have been to that area several times. I know what a small and quaint community it is. To someone like Kenzie moving there from the big city, you could see how shocking it would be.
I liked Kenzie from the beginning. She may appear bratty at first to readers, but I felt like she was a product of the way that she was raised and knew nothing else. Kenzie is thrown into a situation that she had no control over, so you can see why she probably acted the way she did when first arriving in Paris, Idaho.
Another aspect that I loved about the story is how so many of the characters truly grow into better people. Surprisingly, Kenzie has a lot to do with the growth of her new friends. Not only does Kenzie develop into a caring and thoughtful young lady, but she helps others along the way.
I know that my 12 year old daughter can't wait to read this novel. She kept peeking over my shoulder when I would start laughing about something. Even though this book was mainly written for teens, as an adult,it made me think about myself. Many times in our lives we are thrown into a situation where we have no control over what has happened to us. The critical part is how we react or respond to the events in our lives. As Kenzie was going through certain "trials" in her life, I thought of how I would have responded or have reacted in my own life. Kenzie learns ultimately what is truly important in life. This idea is presented in the novel in a good way and not preachy at all. I know that you and your kids/grand kids will enjoy reading "Summer in Paris".
I had the great privilege to interview the very sweet and kind Michele Ashman Bell. I hope that you will enjoy reading the answers that she gave to me.
1. What was your inspiration for writing, "Summer in Paris"?
I got the idea when we drove through the town of Paris, Idaho. Because of the name my imagination started going crazy with possibilities. I wanted to write a "riches to rags" story and this became the perfect venue. My favorite books are ones where the main character goes through some sort of life crisis and experiences major growth as a person. This is what happens to the Kenzie, the main character. She's not someone you love at the beginning, but hopefully by the end she's won your heart because she finally realizes what's really important in life.
2. Is the main character Kenzie based on someone you know? Maybe a daughter
Kenzie is a composite of many different people, and a lot of my imagination. Her love of dance is definitely from my middle daughter, her love of name brand clothes and shoes and shopping is from my oldest daughter, and her attitude is something I picked up while working for years with young women. To be a dancer she had to have a slim build, but I wanted to make sure I promoted a healthy image.
3. I know that you have a daughter that is a wonderful dancer. Did you
consult with her on some of the scenes where Kenzie was practicing ballet?
Absolutely. She wouldn't have let me hear the end of it if I didn't get the ballet scene and references exactly right. I actually interviewed her about how a class is structured and about how it feels to dance, not just physically, but emotionally. It was cool to get inside her head and heart and feel her passion. A person doesn't achieve that level of dance if they don't love it with all of their heart.
4. Do you enjoy writing more for teenagers or for adults?
Both. I can't choose. I still feel and act like a teenager most of the time and I still vividly remember the angst and drama and excitement of being a teenager. It is not hard for me to connect with a teen character and really get inside of them. But, womens issues are very close to my heart and I love to explore emotions and motivations for people and their actions and choices. I am such an advocate of empowering women and giving them strong characters who overcome great obstacles in life. Every one of my main characters is my hero!
5. Where do you do most of your writing? How much writing do you try to get
done each day?
The majority of my writing is done in my office in the basement. I have this little room without any windows and that is where I do my work. I get distracted so easily that I find I am more focused when I shut myself in my office and get lost in my story. I am lucky if I get one to two hours a day. Between family, church callings (I have two), book reviews, and teaching aerobics, that's about all I can squeeze in.
6. Why did you choose the Bear Lake/Paris Idaho area for your book's
setting? My Dad was born in that area and I have many ancestors buried in
the cemetery there.My ancestors were some of the first white, Mormon
settlers in the area. It was fun for me to read the book.
You are so lucky to have such a strong connection to that area that
has such a wonderful history. About seven years ago our family went
to Bear Lake on a vacation. I had never been there before and was
quite surprised at how beautiful the lake and the Bear Lake Valley
was. Someone was telling me about the area and mentioned a town
called Paris. I was shocked. I'd never heard of Paris, Idaho before.
I told my family we had to drive to Paris because I had to see this
place. It is a tiny, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it sort of town, but
it is quaint and charming and I knew I had to use it for a setting and
take advantage of the town name.
7. Can you share the message that you hope young adults, as well as adults,
can gain from reading "Summer in Paris"?
This is such a good question! There are several themes in this story
that I hope will resonate with readers. One of the main messages is
peer pressure and having the courage to stand up for yourself and what
you believe in. Kids are bombarded with pressures from all sides and
I want them to learn to have confidence and courage to not cave into
those pressures. And to choose good friends. I also think that the
story shows that you can't always judge people based on appearance.
Some people seem harmless on the outside, then you find out they have
a dark side, and secrets. Others may look like they don't fit in and
are considered outcasts, but inside they are wonderful individuals.
Of course, one of the most tender messages is the importance of
family. Holy cow . . . is there a limit to how many themes a book can
8. What book/s are you working on now?
I have about a gazillion book ideas in my head and seriously need to find more time to write. Right now I am desperately trying to finish up the third book in my Butterfly Box series. It is the final book so I have a lot of loose ends to tie up. I'm so excited about it and have loved the characters of this series. I'm going to miss them when it's done. I have a sequel to "Summer in Paris" that is percolating and will be my next project.
9. What do you enjoy the most about writing and having your books published?
I love everything about writing. Even revisions - although for me, that is the most difficult part. The creative process is so much fun and so rewarding. I absolutely love to do research and find that I get overzealous with my research and end up with tons more material than I need. I love learning! (Too bad I didn't feel like this in high school!) When it comes to being published there really is nothing more exciting than going to the library and typing your name in and seeing your books come up. I still love doing that! But the greatest reward is when someone takes time to write to me and tell me that one of my books has touched them in some way, or even helped them in their life. Wow, that's really what it's all about.
Here is the purchase link for "Summer in Paris": http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Paris-Michele-Ashman-Bell/dp/1935546171/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268429507&sr=1-4
If you would like to know more about Michele and her books please go to her website here.
I also really love to go and visit Michele's blog here. She has done some of the best author interviews I have read.
You can follow Michele on facebook or twitter.
I also want to remind all of you, that the drawing is still open to win a copy of "Love Your Body". Please go to the post below this one to find out how to enter to win the book. The drawing will end this Saturday at midnight. Then the winner will be announced on Monday.