B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, her debut novel. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working in Finance before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Her second novel, The Breakdown is out February 9th, 2017. Follow B A on Twitter @BAParisAuthor
Hi Bernadette – thanks so much for taking part in my Ask the Author. As you know I am a HUGE fan of your two books and was lucky enough to have my quote printed on the inside cover of Behind Closed Doors and get to read an early proof of your new book The Breakdown so forgive me if I start waffling and grinning like a cheshire cat, as I am really excited to chat to you today.
Thank you for inviting me, I’m delighted to be taking part in Ask the Author!
Your author name is B A Paris and your first name is Bernadette. What does the A stand for and do you prefer being called B, Bernadette or Bernie?
The A is for Ann, after my Irish grandmother. Most people call me Bernadette – probably because I live in France and nobody would think of shortening it to Bernie here. So I’ve got used to being Bernadette now. The only people who call me Bernie are my friends from my schooldays.
Can you please tell me the inspiration and story behind Behind Closed Doors and tell the readers about your new book The Breakdown (out 9 Feb 2017)
Some years ago, I had a friend who seemed to have a perfect marriage but there were one or two things which made me wonder if she was being ‘controlled’ by her husband. My imagination took a giant leap and Behind Closed Doors was born. The inspiration for The Breakdown came from an experience of my own. I was driving home through some woods during a storm one night and I wondered what I would do if I saw someone who had broken down in their car. This is the starting point for Cass’ story, and the guilt she feels in relation to her actions that night begin to affect her profoundly. The problems she’s been having with her memory become worse and when she begins receiving silent calls, they only add to her fear that someone saw her in the woods that night, and is now watching her every move.
Behind Closed Doors was a phenomenal success for a debut author, were you surprised at the response you’ve received so far and has the success put you under more pressure for book 2 The Break Down?
Surprised is an understatement. Ten months on, I’m still trying to come to terms with it all. My dream was only to walk into WHS or Waterstones and see my book on a shelf, so the sales figures, the 35 foreign languages and the film deal are way beyond anything I ever expected, or even imagined. It definitely put me under a lot of pressure for book 2. I had already started writing The Breakdown when Behind Closed Doors was published and because of the response it got, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to deliver the same sort of reader experience. I think – hope! – it was the most difficult book I’ll ever write!
You now live in France with your husband and 5 daughters, how often do you return to the UK and what do you miss most?
I used to go back to England during each school holiday, so every couple of months or so, so that my daughters could see their grandparents and the rest of our families. Now I go every month, to see my family, catch up with friends, or to meet up with my lovely agent and/or equally lovely editor. I live just outside Paris so it’s great to be able to jump on the Eurostar and arrive in London a couple of hours later. The thing I miss the most about England are my family, and the friendliness of the people. I love the chat as you go through the tills, or stand at the counter waiting to pay. It’s not quite the same in Paris!
Do you read your reviews and have you had any really strange or funny comments from fans?
I started off reading reviews but then it became impossible – there are over 6000 on Amazon alone. Now I only read those written by bloggers who send me a link. I like to be able to thank them for taking the time to write a review and also, to address any queries/issues they might have. I haven’t had any strange comments but I’ve had a few that have made me laugh. The ones that really touch me, however, are the messages I receive from women who have gone through something very similar to Grace. All of them speak of the desperation and hopelessness they felt, and the fear that no-one would believe them.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve been given regarding your writing?
The best advice I’ve had was from someone who advised me to send my very first manuscript to a literary consultant before sending it off to an agent. The comments that came back with regard to my writing were bruising to say the least but once I got over feeling outraged, I saw that everything he’d said was true. When I eventually sent my amended manuscript off, the feedback I got was amazing. Even though he didn’t take my book, I received a personal letter from one agent who encouraged me to carry on writing and not to give up because, he said, I could definitely write. I doubt I would have got those comments if my manuscript hadn’t been mauled first by the literary consultant. As for bad advice, I haven’t received any – yet!
What have been your highlights of 2016 and what are your plans for 2017?
There have been many amazing moments – but possibly the highlight was being invited to the Harper Collins summer party at the V&A as an author, and meeting other authors there. My plans for 2017 are to keep my head down and write books 3 and 4, and make them as good as they can possibly be.
If I was to offer you a FREE holiday anywhere in the world – where would you choose and why and who would you take with you?
Who I would take with me is easy – my husband and daughters – where I would choose to go, more difficult. I would probably choose to go to Siena, to a house with a pool somewhere just outside the city because then we’d have climate, culture and cuisine all rolled into one. Or a private cruise on a yacht around the Greek islands, complete with pilot and chef. Yes, maybe that!
Not that I am impatient, but have you started on book 3 yet and can you tell us anything about it?
I’ve made a start on it but all I can really tell you at this point is that it’s another psychological thriller.
Finally, are you a big reader yourself and what are your favourite books this year?
I used to be a huge reader – I think I spent most of my childhood reading, hiding behind the sofa where my four brothers couldn’t find me! But once I started writing, I stopped reading because I didn’t have time to do both. I’ve read quite a few books this last year though, and have enjoyed them all. But the one that has made the most impression on me is You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood. Just before the end of his trial, a young man accused of murder decides to sack his lawyer and give his own defence speech, which makes up the whole book. It will be out this June and deserves to be huge.