I hadn’t “planned” it this way, but as I began to write Passports, I found myself drawn to exploring those who don’t really have “intimate” sibling relationships. My younger main characters tend to be “only children,” have much older siblings, or are essentially estranged from them. In many ways, their friends come to serve as “replacement” brothers and sisters.
There’s one notable exception: the Khoury sisters. In their mid-late 20s, both Valérie and Juliette still live at home with their French mother and Lebanese-French father. Valérie is the older by about two years. Extremely close, they even holiday together without their parents.
A “sneak peek” into another chapter I finished drafting recently in Distances. James’s father, who runs the family’s Long Island construction company, has just come home from work. He found James’s mother, Joanne, sitting at the kitchen table.
Joanne had spoken to James in Paris hours before. She’d rung their son at about two o’clock in the morning New York time (Jim had been asleep and later went to work without knowing she’d had), catching James, she believed, with a female overnight guest at his apartment. It had been too early in the morning in Paris, Joanne is sure, for that to have been innocent:
Interesting to note how Americans are when they meet each other in foreign climes, be it Paris or Kathmandu (Said with affection) Your writing adds a lot of colour. I get impression colour around you is somehow very important?
“Colour” is indeed vital to me. Background. Setting. Personalities. A sentence. A nod. A look. Taking a hand. The tiniest of moments that have the most gigantic of life consequences. As in our real lives.
A major purpose of my site here is simply to convey something daily of what I am. In doing that, I like to share the hows and whys of what I write: a journal of ups and downs. I also touch on broader topics that go beyond just my books, but which are related to my subject.
It also includes an unexpected reference to “Uncle Bill.” After all, when you are connected personally to someone “famous,” well, you never know who else out there might also “know” that “celebrity.” Nor do you ever really know where you might encounter a fan.
In the first two volumes, I concentrated (unsurprisingly, I suppose) on three countries: the U.S., France, and Britain. However, I also made scattered references to Italy. I included the likes of “James” having an Italian aunt, “Isabelle” having been to a language school in Rome, “Giorgio” debating Italian girls with “Isabelle,” English “Natalie’s” younger cousin “Maddie” having studied in Florence, and “Valérie” loving Rome as a getaway destination.
I did that for two reasons. First, it’s really difficult not to be wowed by Italy. Millions of us visitors (perhaps you have been one too) are every year:
Needing a haircut, I decided to take an hour or two away from the computer yesterday morning. We’re still new in the area, and I ventured into a barber shop I’d been to once before. My cutter this time was not who’d cut my hair previously, but I recalled he had been there trimming someone else the last time.
He seemed around my age. Initially he was soft-spoken and I detected “oddly” accented. Also appearing to be somewhat (in my book, as part that heritage myself) “Mediterranean,” I suspected he might not be from these shores.
….Speaking to French radio station Europe 1 in an interview … Madonna said “antisemitism is at an all-time high” in France and elsewhere in Europe, and likened the atmosphere to the period when German fascism was on the ascent.
“We’re living in crazy times,” the 56-year-old singer said, calling the situation “scary,”….
….“It was a country that embraced everyone and encouraged freedom in every way, shape or form – artistic expression of freedom,” Madonna said. “Now that’s completely gone.
“France was once a country that accepted people of colour, and was a place artists escaped to, whether it was Josephine Baker or Charlie Parker.”….
That commentary has unsurprisingly attracted attention in France. If you click on the picture below, or here, it will take you to the interview. Her words are translated into French, but one can hear her speaking English:
Obviously she has read and heard various things over the years, and knows just enough “dinner party” banter to sound informed. Listening to her throughout her career one has never been able to suppress a feeling that she is the proverbial “mile wide and an inch deep.” You never quite believe she knows nearly as much as she appears to position herself as knowing.