Monday, 5 December 2016

Guest Post! Location Research in France by Rebecca Bischoff, author of The French Impressionist

Location Research in France
by Rebecca Bischoff, author of The French Impressionist

When I began to write my novel, The French Impressionist, I wanted the French location to feel authentic to readers. I knew that would require research, but along the way I realized something. My research actually began long before I thought about writing my book.

In kindergarten I fell in love with a book called Arm and Arm by Remy Charlip, an American artist, writer, and choreographer. Because of his French name, I was certain he lived in France. From that young age I developed an obsession with all things French. When I got to high school and got to choose a foreign language to study, I, of course, chose French. Throughout high school and college, I studied French language and literature, took opportunities to travel to Europe to practice my French, and enjoyed getting to know a number of native speakers.

Because of that, I had many experiences to draw upon as I wrote The French Impressionist. I used my proficient (though not perfectly fluent) knowledge of French language and culture, along with my knowledge of the challenges involved in learning to speak another language. It helped me create characters that I felt were authentic. For example, when some of my French characters spoke in English, their word patterns were “colored” by French patterns of speaking. I also remembered my own awkward experiences in trying to make myself understood (or understand someone else) while struggling to learn a foreign language.

Beyond language differences, I also hoped to vividly portray the beautiful town of Nice, where my story takes place. Since I’d spent some time in France and in Italy along the Mediterranean coast, I took time to re-read my travel diaries to remember my impressions of Europe when I visited the first time. I also read travel blogs, watched informational and tourist videos (Rick Steves is great), and used Google Earth to research the specific location for my book.

I think that creating a vivid and authentic setting for a novel can be done well with help from the internet. But more than anything else, I believe it’s important to have personal, “real-life” experiences to share through your writing. My research for The French Impressionist really began long ago in a kindergarten classroom where I obsessively read a wonderful book filled with illustrations and poetry that made me (if mistakenly) dream of France.  

Rebecca Bischoff currently resides in Idaho with her family and works as a speech-language pathologist. She loves helping others, especially kids and teenagers, discover their own unique voices and learn to share who they are with the world. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, spend time with her kids, and make awkward attempts to learn foreign languages. She is drawn to all things both French and Italian, used bookstores, and anything made out of chocolate.

The French Impressionist
Rebecca Bischoff
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rosemary is fifteen and gloriously free, on her own for the very first time. Part of an exchange program for aspiring artists, she arrives in sunny southern France with a single goal: she doesn’t plan to leave, ever. She wants a new life, a new family, and a new identity. But her situation, crafted from lies big and small, is precarious.
Desperate to escape haunting images from her past and a stage one helicopter parent, Rosemary struggles to hide her lack of artistic talent and a communication disorder that has tormented her all her life. She believes her dream of a new start will come true, until she unwittingly finds herself enveloped in a decades-old mystery that threatens to ruin her only chance for success. Determined to stay, Rosemary must choose whether or not she’ll tell the biggest lie of all, even if it means destroying the life of someone she cares about.
Dramatic, heartwarming, and full of teenage angst, The French Impressionist perfectly captures the struggle of those who feel they have no voice, and also shows the courage it takes to speak up and show the world who we really are.


1 comment: